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In Conversation with Walter Augustine: Upcoming plans for diversity at PLNU

Last week, The Point interviewed students and faculty members about their perspectives on Point Loma Nazarene University’s efforts to incorporate diversity on campus. The Point spoke with Walter Augustine, who serves as the associate vice president for diversity and belonging and he hinted at some upcoming diversity-focused projects that would soon be shown to the PLNU community. 

The Civil Rights Pilgrimage Course:

The California Civil Rights Pilgrimage course describes the role of California within Civil Rights history, aiming to revise the narrative that only the South was affected by this historical movement. This course will include a trip to Civil Rights Movement sites in California during Spring Break. Augustine states that the importance of this course lies in educating students about historical events and allowing them to experience it first-hand. Students are also encouraged to reflect on how these events have impacted the world as it is today. As of right now, there are plans to include two courses bi-yearly: with the Southern Civil Rights Pilgrimage being one year, and the California Civil Rights Pilgrimage Course the year after. 

“These courses are important, because they can be transformational in how we see ourselves, one another and our society,” Augustine said. 

The Student Congress on Racial Reconciliation (SCORR) Conference:

The yearly SCORR Conference is happening on Friday, April 5, at Vanguard University. At this event, students are given the opportunity to engage with a variety of student voices from other Christian universities. This conference will also allow them to learn more about topics of diversity and justice.  

The LomaFirst Student Advisory Board 

According to Augustine, the board has been established since the spring and gives first generation students a space to share their thoughts and ideas on how “LomaFirst” faculty can provide a space of belonging and inclusion for students at PLNU who are first generation. According to the PLNU Fall 2023 DataPoint, “8.6% of traditional undergraduates are first-generation (neither parent attended college).”

“The desire is to help them, and all of our students, find spaces and ways to belong and thrive during their time at PLNU and beyond,” Augustine said. 

Re-launching the PLNU Gospel Choir:

From their partnership with Worship Ministries as well as faculty, the choir was given the chance to sing with the Martin Luther King Jr. San Diego Community Choir at chapel in January. This choir holds a lot of significance because it invites students, faculty and staff of various backgrounds to come together in worship. 

“It can serve as a “taste of home”, so to speak, for those who may have grown up worshiping God through this style of music. Thus our PLNU community can grow together in our expressions of how we worship God,” Augustine said. 

“Juneteenth: Faith & Freedom” Documentary: 

The documentary is screening on Feb. 12 at 7 p.m. in Crill Hall. Following the film, Pastor Rasool Berry, who assisted in creating as well as narrating the documentary, is holding an interview and Q&A session. There will also be a “Lunch and Learn” from 12-1 p.m. the same day, which will be located in the Activities and Recreation Center. 

“This is a great opportunity for our whole community to learn how God was at work in the lives of our brothers and sisters in Christ who experienced freedom from slavery. All are welcome to attend,” Augustine said.

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Additional projects will be announced upon the introduction of the Strategic Priority for Diversity and Belonging. 

“Until then, though, we are excited about these initiatives which are upcoming and already underway,” Augusine said.

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