We Are Calvin [too]: student introduction

Photo courtesy We are Calvin [too]
Photo courtesy We are Calvin [too]

In my three years at Calvin, I’ve had 29 white professors and only one professor of color. These numbers aren’t too surprising in light of the recent State of the Campus report by the Multicultural Affairs Committee (MAC) which highlighted the fact that “no faculty of color have ever retired from Calvin and few have been tenured.”

The retention of faculty and staff of color is significant because it directly correlates to the experience and retention of students of color. Low retention rates for faculty of color reveal racial injustices, policies and practices that are still deeply embedded within Calvin’s structure and suggest the need for further change.

A growing number of students, staff, faculty and alumni of color, along with white allies, have organized to address these concerns. Our movement aims to make Calvin a more welcoming environment for people of color. This includes telling our personal stories. Many of us have found a tension between grace and truth here at Calvin College. Grace can be used to veil truth in a way that allows inequalities to persist.

Our understanding of any authentic form of grace and reconciliation stems from truth. Grace without truth isn’t really grace; love without truth isn’t really love. As Desmond Tutu said, “True reconciliation exposes the awfulness, the abuse, the hurt, the truth.”

We want to be clear, the stories here come from a place of love; we love Calvin College, we love the people here, we love the work God has done and is doing here. God’s work is not done at Calvin; we have a long way to go to become the reflection of God’s kingdom we are called to be.

If Calvin is serious about our mission to “equip students to think deeply, to act justly and to live wholeheartedly,” and if Calvin is truly guided by a vision for the kingdom of God and renewal, Calvin’s administration, faculty, staff and student body will acknowledge the experiences of people of color at Calvin and actively work toward addressing Calvin’s problems of systemic and individual racism.

This begins by listening to the stories of those affected by the sin of racism here on our campus. True narratives of people of color here on campus include joy and pain, love and hate, trust and mistrust, acceptance and suspicion, exclusion and embrace.

Our narratives cannot be used to justify the sinful actions (and inactions) of our institution. Calvin needs to press on toward a movement of justice and love that isn’t just talked about but lived out daily. We can’t stop at peripheral change — our sin is deeper than that.

We want Calvin to pick up our responsibility for adequately equipping its students, faculty, staff and alumni, as well as its faith and academic communities with the tools necessary to fight racism. That burden should not be placed on the single first-year student of color in her classroom or the only student of color on his dorm floor.

Calvin needs to take anti-racism seriously and extend it beyond rhetoric, the FEN document and UnLearn week and into the classroom, the dining halls, concert venues, service-learning activities, sports events, residence halls, faculty meetings and the fields of academia.

We pray these stories will illuminate the need for change at Calvin and spark fruitful discussions about anti-racism throughout every square inch of Calvin.

We invite Calvin’s community to engage in dialogue about these stories and this movement by attending a forum which will be held in the Chapel Sanctuary on April 28 at 6 p.m.

Wearecalvintoo@gmail.com — Wearecalvintoo.tumblr.com — Add us on Facebook: Calvin Too.

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