As the spring semester comes to an end, Andrews University (AU) took the time to reflect on the discussion surrounding #ItIsTimeAU in the cover story of the Winter 2017 volume of Focus: The official Andrews University Magazine.
#ItIsTimeAU, a video filmed by Andrews University students and a staff member on Saturday, February 18 in response to concerns raised about a Black History Month chapel and a call for “Andrews University to apologize for the systemic racism it has perpetuated on its campus.”
On Thursday, February 23 during Chapel, Andrews University President Andrea Luxton apologized and presents a formal video response entitled #ListenDialogueChange. In the video, faculty and staff acknowledge the “tragic realities of racism and injustice” and present commitments such as “celebrating all the ways we seek and achieve community.”
In #ListenDialogueChange, Andrews University administration make a total of five commitments to students, the first being to “search for a full-time, senior-level administrator of diversity, a new cabinet-level position that reports directly to the president and will drive meaningful, visible and ongoing change.”
While the AU Diversity Council began discussing the need for this position in 2011, the urgency of this need increased with the videos. President Luxton plans for the position to be filled by the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year.
Focus magazine released the following anonymous quotes from AU students and alumni who had thoughts on the story:
From an anonymous student: “Andrews University actually took the high road on this! I don't have blind pride in any organization I’m a part of, but I'm proud of us when we do what's right, and I will share in the pain and shame when we do wrong.”
From an anonymous alumni: “I look forward to attending alumni weekend as an equal to my fellow classmates. My wife and I never returned for this weekend because we felt like we didn't belong. I can't wait to feel like a part of the AU alumni culture. I love this institution and I'm happy to see they're taking the necessary steps to remain the flagship school in the church.”
Andrews University is making intentional efforts in addressing the #ItIsTimeAU video. Several students, alumni, and members of the SDA community said they were impressed by how Andrews University handled this scenario.
One such student, Olivia Woodard (freshman, graphic design) said, “I really think Andrews University responded in a very timely way. They also showed that they will actively seek to address the concerns of the student body and make changes to issues.”
Some students also hope the entire church community reflects on the racial injustices and issues as a whole.
Oviri Duado (senior, social work) said, “This should not begin and end with Andrews University. We should strive to change church communities throughout the country. We could all take a lot more time to listen and dialogue with each other to start positive change.”