Group focused on promoting diversity, unity on CU campus
by Kathryn McDonald
Race. Gender. Equality. What do these words have in common? Each one has become increasingly tied to one of the largest hot-button issues facing students and young people across the country: how can we remain unified while embracing diversity?
In recent months, Cedarville University has worked to bring together a committee of leaders to address issues surrounding diversity on Cedarville’s campus. What began as a few passionate leaders organizing a prayer chapel for racial reconciliation quickly turned into a long-term effort for campus-wide unity surrounding the topic of diversity. The Kingdom Diversity Committee is a team of professors and uniquely qualified individuals who are coming together to promote unity and diversity in the Cedarville community.
The student body’s first introduction to the team was made official on Sept. 18 when the members held a prayer chapel covering topics related to unity and diversity. University President Dr. Thomas White opened the chapel by welcoming the students and introducing the members of the committee.
“There is no place for discrimination,” White said. “There is no place for racism at Cedarville University. We will not tolerate it. We will not endure it. We live out a theology which says that God created us all. … We must recognize that all men and women are created equally in the image of God, that all come from Adam and Eve, that all have a sin nature, that all need the grace of the gospel, and with common needs we come together to strive for the kingdom of God.”
After Dr. White’s introduction, those in attendance heard Patrick Oliver, Sarah Gump, Carolyn Barnett, and Derrick Green each share about their personal experiences related to diversity, read from God’s Word, and pray for the university community. Dr. White concluded by reading from Ephesians 2:11-22 and closing in prayer.
In keeping with biblical truth, the Kingdom Diversity Committee wants students to know that unity is a biblical mandate that cannot be ignored in our communities. As students live in a world filled with people who are different from themselves, it is vitally important that they learn to view diversity through the lens of Scripture.
Jones commented that, as Christians, the committee’s aim is ultimately to “train students to be biblically and culturally competent as it relates to issues around ethnic diversity, gender diversity, and all forms of diversity.”
The very nature of the gospel being for all people regardless of gender, ethnicity, origin, social background, etc., should compel us to embrace people that are different from us, Jones said. It is Jesus’ concern for all of humanity that should remind us that we are to be concerned about diversity. That includes a passion for the nations and a heartbeat for inclusion here at Cedarville, Barnett said.
“Cedarville needs to be a place where other cultures are welcomed,” Barnett said.
One of the team’s goals is to evaluate every area of student life to see where faculty and staff can encourage the growth of diversity in our student body so that they can welcome others. Cedarville’s faculty wants to help the campus represent the global body of believers both in the different cultures that are represented on our campus and in the unity among all students.
Oneness in Christ transcends racial, ethnic, cultural, and national boundaries, the committee emphasized. Welcoming students from a variety of cultural backgrounds with open arms is something they want to demonstrate to every one of their students.
“We are understanding diversity in light of the nature of God’s kingdom,” said Owens. “The reality is that it is only in the gospel that actual unity can happen in humanity. We are trying very much to take a very gospel-centered approach with this [committee].”
The Kingdom Diversity Committee is also looking to gather information regarding minority students at Cedarville University and broaden their knowledge of the population statistics on campus. Who is represented on campus? Are they being reached, communicated with, and represented effectively? These are the kinds of questions that the team will be asking in an effort to ensure that no student is marginalized.
The team brings a variety of perspectives and backgrounds to approach these questions. By working together, they hope to implement policy changes that will positively impact Cedarville University. As they assess campus dynamics, they aspire to use this information to effectively unite our student body, building on the existing foundation.
In the words of Dr. Kevin Jones, “This is not new for Cedarville; this is an enhancement for Cedarville.”
As students seek a biblical perspective on diversity, the Kingdom Diversity Committee aims to implement educational opportunities to inform students on pertinent issues.
Additionally, members of the committee are seeking to highlight the opportunities that are already available for students to educate themselves on diversity. While opportunities to directly provide activities for students are limited due to COVID-19 restrictions, the committee is already working toward creative solutions as well as future possibilities.
Kathryn McDonald is a sophomore Psychology major and writer for the Campus News section of Cedars. You can probably catch her writing a letter to a friend in the library or drinking coffee from her favorite mug. When she is not at her desk studying, she is probably on her phone catching up with friends or reading her favorite American poetry.