This is an open letter written to the faculty of Point Loma Nazarene University from a group of alumni. The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Point. Letters to the editor and opinion columns are subject to editing for length, taste, grammar and clarity. Any content provided by our op-ed contributors are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company or individual.
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To the faculty at Point Loma Nazarene University on behalf of myself and other alumni of the university,
We are upset, enraged, and exhausted from all that we’ve seen in the past few weeks. Our black students, current and past, are experiencing the collective trauma of the inequalities of COVID-19, the economic crash and the state of police brutality. The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade and so many others at the hands of police brutality are inexcusable. These acts highlight the centuries of racism and colonialism that perpetuate violence and inequity in our society.
We are strong in our conviction that Black Lives Matter. We offer our solidarity in the current movement and to denounce racism in any form, but that is simply not enough.
The mission statement on the Point Loma Nazarene University website states that we are “a vital Christian community where minds are engaged and challenged, character is modeled and formed, and service becomes an expression of faith.” Included in the core values are the development of students as whole persons, a global perspective and experience, ethnic and cultural diversity, the stewardship of resources and service as an expression of faith. We must live out the university’s mission statement, but we cannot move forward without first addressing systemic oppression and inequities that are so deeply rooted in our society. As an academic and Christian institution, we have a unique responsibility to address these issues. PLNU takes pride in extending these core values to benefit communities outside of the ivory tower. However, if we do not fully understand or address the issues the communities we work with face, we are doing them an extreme disservice and contributing to their oppression. We are past the point of striving for change; we need to take action now.
We’ve seen statements from various members of the Christian church and associated colleges, but words are not actions. We ask PLNU to support black students and people of color by:
- Creating an external oversight commission that ensures internal policies align with ensuring racial equity.
- Communicate solidarity and anti-racism messages to undergraduates, graduate students, staff and alumni.
- Use social media presence, alumni network and email lists to amplify black voices that highlight and address these inequities.
- Evaluate ties with all outside organizations and their commitment to equity, inclusion and diversity as well as making public PLNU’s relationships for transparency. We implore the university to cut ties with groups that intentionally or inadvertently support racial discrimination.
- Provide space and time to have tough conversations by incorporating anti-racism texts and discussions that result in action in undergraduate and graduate courses facilitated by the campus.
- Organize and support workshops that focus on equity, inclusion and diversity for students, faculty and staff, and make these a yearly mandatory training for all members of the college.
- Leverage university funding and resources to support and encourage equity, inclusion and diversity-focused research and activities.
- Commit to adding black people and people of color as members to advisory boards and governing bodies.
- Leverage university funding and resources to diversify the PLNU body and leadership, especially with black people.
- Take our influence outside of PLNU and use our voice at the division and university-wide level to push for change and justice.
- Support black-owned business whenever possible, including using black food vendors for events.
- Make public the graduation rate and time to degree for all students broken down by demographics.
We must make addressing inequity a priority at PLNU so that we may also serve as a model for other Christian universities, students and the church. As alumni, we acknowledge that action is going to require a joint effort among faculty, staff, students and alumni and we are committed to doing our part. Now we ask that you commit to doing yours.
Eduardo Po Alvarez
Class of 2014
Contact Eduardo at firstname.lastname@example.org