More than just PC: Engaging the campus on issues of diversity

For the better part of spring quarter, the hot topic on campus was diversity.  And our students represented Christ with distinction.

What touched off a firestorm was an April off campus party featuring demeaning costumes of various nationalities and cultures that was documented on camera by another student. This led to an explosion of articles, emails, blog posts, TV news reports; my facebook newsfeed was saturated with various comments and status updates on the topic for weeks. For many students, this incident was yet another example of how the University has not done enough to make NU a welcoming environment. The mood on campus was tense and hostile to say the least.

It was into this environment that our students rose up. Jazzy (left) at the time president of House on the Rock and the chair of the Coalition of Colors (a joint movement of all cultural groups), spearheaded the NU4DiversityNow initiative, meeting with top university officials (including President Schapiro), bringing together student and faculty communities.

At a time when there were often louder, angrier voices, Jazzy was able to bring together groups that otherwise may have been absent from the conversation like GreekLife and the Asian American community (both of these communities had strong leadership from InterVarsity students as well). And even in the midst of this, Jazzy made time to have lunch with one of her Atheist team members to share how her faith motivated this work.

Over 300 students gathered for one of the rallys Jazzy organized.

Another student, Yehsong, was also busy at work mobilizing the Asian American community, organizing an event to explore what the Asian American voice should be in issues of diversity. Yehsong and a number of other AAIV leaders were central players in the NU Asian Project, a student group that put together some of the most engaging and fruitful events on Asian identity I have seen in years. share how her faith motivated her work.

I don’t believe it was a coincidence that our students were at the forefront of diversity initiatives this year. Through their experiences in their ethnic specific ministries, through projects like the Chicago Urban Program, we are developing student leaders whose ethnic identity is informed by their primary identity in Jesus Christ, and doesn’t negate their culture but rather develops it more fully for the Kingdom.

  • Pray for Northwestern: that the campus would be a welcoming place for all people and that fruitful progress would be made to ensure the campus is an inclusive place for all people.
  • Pray for InterVarsity students: to be bold campus leaders in issues of diversity, but not simply for political correct reasons but as an overflow of the Gospel.

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