Unlearn Week seeks to challenge stereotypes
The annual Unlearn Week is underway at Calvin College.
This week, Oct. 7–12, chapel services, seminars and lectures across campus will challenge Calvin students to engage in discussing issues of racism and multiculturalism.
President Le Roy commenced Unlearn Week with a speech at Monday morning chapel.
“We have Unlearn Week to learn in the context of unlearning,” Le Roy quipped in his preface to Unlearn Week.
Le Roy emphasized the scriptural foundation of Unlearn Week, in particular three significant truths that underlie Calvin’s goals for this week.
“Calvin’s diversity goals are deeply rooted in our Reformed faith and our academic goals,” said Le Roy.
The first truth — that all human beings are made in the image of God — is fundamental to Calvin’s Unlearn Week, Le Roy said.
“I look out at you and I see God’s creativity and artistry,” said Le Roy from the chapel platform. “And God said this is good. These differences are part of God’s design.”
Le Roy continued by discussing a second truth, that sin enters the world and corrupts everything, including all human relationships.
“Because of sin, human beings enslave one another, or believe certain races are superior or inferior,” he said. “Learning to work effectively across differences of all kinds is an essential skill if you want to make a difference in the world.”
Le Roy concluded with the third truth, that Jesus enters into the world to save, transform, heal and redeem this broken world. He challenged students to listen and learn again, finishing with the words of Micah 6:8.
Ebonie Atkins serves as the Program Coordinator for Multicultural Student Development. She works to ensure that Unlearn Week runs smoothly.
“The Multicultural Student Advisory Board (MSAB) is charged with making Unlearn Week a time to engage the Calvin community in purposeful discussion of race, cultural identity, and social injustice. Every year Unlearn Week programming is designed to educate,” said Atkins.
“It is a time to intentionally focus on learning about the life experiences of others and to explore our own cultural identity. I hope Unlearn Week enables us to learn how to better love one another and share God’s love for us, through gaining a better understanding of the people who make up God’s Kingdom.”
While Unlearn Week is an annual event at Calvin, it is different every year.
“The MSAB members are instrumental in keeping the topics fresh and relevant,” said Atkins. “We spend a lot of time as a group brainstorming about topics that will pique the interest of the Calvin community and offer opportunities for intense dialogue. MSAB is a diverse group of students with varying interests and ideas. I think that is what keeps the Unlearn Week programming fresh and new every year.”
Allie Buell is a sophomore member of the MSAB who has worked to plan and prepare for the Unlearn Week events.
“I hope that people from the Calvin community would realize the need for racial reconciliation and cultural celebration in bringing God’s kingdom,” said Buell.
Buell hopes that Unlearn Week helps Calvin students to build a stronger community, and that these tough topics generate discussion among students.
“It’s an issue that sometimes gets overlooked and ignored because people think it doesn’t exist anymore, but it does. I hope that through the Unlearn Week events we all challenge ourselves to think differently and stretch ourselves to love more fully throughout the week and in the weeks to come.”