An Auburn Academy Firing Exacerbates Equity and Diversity Questions

“The worst case scenario just happened. I just got fired. And my mother-in-law was here, and like, my kids were here in the house, and it was just like, what just happened?” That remains the persistent question for Auburn Adventist Academy's former athletic director, Steve Martin, who was handed a non-renewal of contract letter the day after graduation celebrations last summer. "I was just at graduation the day before. I wasn't thinking about taking pictures with all my students and saying goodbye to everybody."

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Does anyone know why “Black” is capitalized in the article but “white” is not? Doesn’t seem equitable.

Interesting article, these issues only seem to be amplifying…when the first and only lense through which you view issues is race, you will find racism everywhere

Well done Jeremy. Shocking but not surprising turn of events. Those of us on a college campus when MLK Jr was assassinated in Memphis on April of 1968 well remember the desperate need for our community, led by a black faculty member, to commemorate the event with a special service. That should have been (and hopefully would be now) an obvious response to the racism behind that murder. Fear and ignorance are incredibly powerful forces warring against trust and understanding.


None of this is remotely surprising in Adventist education. The lack of a true HR system, separate from the pressures of rich donors and principals who either have no backbone or do not like employees who don’t always agree with them, makes teaching in Adventism untenable. Ask the former AD and the former History teacher at Columbia Adventist Academy about their similar experiences. Someone doesn’t like your political views, how you’re doing your job, disciplining a student, not playing a student the minutes they want in a game, whatever it is, and years of service are immediately called into question. Modern day witch hunts do exist. We can laugh all we want at the ignorance and provincialism of the American colonists who executed people because of mass hysteria, but the experiences of so many dedicated Adventist teachers call our system out. One unhappy donor or board member often results in the public dismantling of someone’s career and life. Teachers (and other Adventist employees) have been locked out of their offices, emails gone through, students questioned, anonymous letters given credibility, and so many more McCarthy-like techniques employed to find something, anything, to justify the action the administration or board already wanted to take place. This is not a surprise or uncommon story in Adventist employment anymore. How Mr. Martin remained a Level 1 employee for that long is in and of itself is a crime. That is lack of leadership and accountability on the part of the personnel committee and the principal. Those levels are the only thing that protect teachers in the Adventist system as there are no union representatives or employment guarantees in place. I am sorry for Mr. Martin and his family. These experiences are traumatizing to the whole family as it affects not only your job, but your community. We are already asking teachers in our schools to work for low pay. In a boarding school setting especially, expect double the work hours of a 9-5 job for $50K a year. But in recent years, you can also expect the added bonuses of job instability and the potential of having your life ripped apart.


What do you mean by this, @Yoyito?


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i see it in many major printed media outlets. quite common. but there is also push back to capitalize both. (its been a point of debate in joirnalistic circles.) it’s all par for the course. society has experienced a perturbation of late. once it gets through this awakening to and correction of various social injustices and we’re hopefully in a more egalitarian place, i predict that both will eventually be lowercase.

Steve Martin, thank you for your mind and vision for a just learning environment. The brief snapshots of your work over your recent years at the school is beautiful and healing. I am very sorry you were treated this way and I trust that if you haven’t already, you soon will uncover new places to grow and thrive in, hopefully in a more supportive and life-giving environment.

Mr. Martin, Jeremy Gray, and Spectrum, thank you for sharing this situation with the public–it would have been easy to just let it go. I am not an alum, nor directly associated with the Academy and have heard of the issues of racism there. I am grieved to read much of this content and am encouraged by Mr. Martin’s work, the work of the EDA Coalition, and NAD’s interest in it.

It sounds like this sudden non-renewal contract for this dedicated, creative, loving, and pro-active young professional is a deep loss for the school, the conference, and many individuals and families in the community, particularly for the students of color.

Mr. Martin’s experience at the Academy seems to mirrors the traumatic experiences involving students of color mentioned in this piece–random negative action taken toward them, leaving individuals and families left in confusion and dehumanized. Unfortunately for many minorities, these seemingly random situations occur over and over and over. It can be crazy-making and sometimes life-threatening. It is easy for me to forget that it is never only the “targeted” ones that are affected—we are all connected.

God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.


At age 70, I can’t believe that a competitive sports program even exists at this academy. It’s just a guess that team members are not females. But besides that, the games will always be funded by wealthy parents who can have wonderful conversations with their neighbors about their own school’s athletic program as if their academy kids will have an edge in getting scholarships, too. Going back a few years, I can’t remember a year that AUC (RIP) that there wasn’t the New England-New York basketball game, with the spectators also somewhat safely sitting together to cheer on “our” side. We can see how well the fence straddling turned out for that college.

When I was in high school there was no competitive sports program with outside schools. At the very end of my time we got to compete against other Adventist schools but certainly not if it involved contact sports.

Glad to see that aspect of school life in an Adventist school has been rectified.


Googling the phrase “religion causes problems” returns any number of articles and studies detailing all of the troubles in the world which have their root in religious thinking and numerous discussions about why this is the case.

Given this information, however, isn’t it reasonable to predict that working for a religious institution will most likely be more problematic than employment at a secular one?

Perhaps the only less gratifying professions are those which involve working for or with political people?!?!

(Assuming, of course, that there is any substantive difference between politics and religion. (Google “politics is religion” for further details.)



Hello, I’ve never noticed this before and wasn’t aware it was even an issue or debate. Thanks

I’m not familiar with the arguments in favor of this but it doesn’t make sense to me. Seems like it’s replacing one form of prejudice with another. For example if “white” was traditionally capitalized and “black” was not, the answer isn’t to swap the capitalization, it’s to cap both or lower case both. The concept of “we need to swap the inequality to make up for past inequality“ doesn’t make sense

the answer is that past grievances can’t just be swept under the carpet, with the resolve taking hold that from now on everything will be equitable…past grievances need to be redressed for justice to have occurred…

at this point, real justice for slavery is starting to look like a figure somewhere between $10 and $19 trillion (with a T):

america’s GDP in 2021 was $23 trillion:

the dollar amount being attached to justice for America’s slavery likely means we’ll never see it…but without justice, society will probably never heal…

I don’t see how the US has swept this issue under the rug. Slavery was faced and addressed and abolished. Jim Crow was faced and over time addressed. The 1960’s civil rights era was the country not sweeping this under the rug and making many legislative changes that we all benefit from today. The welfare system was advocated for primarily to benefit blacks during the civil rights era. We’ve dealt with this in movies music sports society , colleges etc. to say we’ve swept under rug is not accurate.

To say that unless we pay Trillions in reparations then we can’t heal is ludicrous to me. Many African Americans are beyond this concept that America is fundamentally racist and they can’t succeed. And if individuals can get there then we all can get there. However, these African Americans are always ridiculed by other African American leaders as uncle toms and sellouts etc.

And what I see is that the issue has been framed in a way that it will never be resolved. They can’t point to a specific law that needs changing so they developed the idea of “systemic racism”. With looks at the outcomes and if they are not equal it must mean the system caused it. Which doesn’t work because even if all the laws are equal, it doesn’t matter because the outcome is not equal. How do you fix that?! You can’t! Getting equality of outcome is not only impossible it’s not correct. So healing will not happen until we all reject this idea of equality of outcome and focus on how to resolve the core issues facing minority communities and it’s not racism.

But the black leaders won’t do this because they’ve found an issue that will never get resolved (inequality of outcomes) and they can fight for this for the rest of their lives and stay relevant and in power trying to resolve and issue that cannot be resolved

I meant that we’re at a point where we don’t view each other as individuals anymore. We view someone’s actions thru the lens of what group they belong to. So we interpret a white Mersin actions differently than a Blake person even if they are saying or doing the exact same thing. This leads to thinking that a white person’s actions are motivated by racism regardless if they as an individual are not racist. This leads to seeing racism everywhere

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I smell a won lawsuit here.

Thanks, @Yoyito:

So, some questions, please:

a) When did people stop seeing each others as individuals for the first time?

b) Where is there not racism?

c) What is a racist individual?

d) What is a “not racist” individual?



Can add one more question:
What is the difference between a person who does “racist actions” and a “racist individual”?

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As a person residing in Washington State who highly values diversity and justice and as a former adjunct teacher at Auburn Adventist Academy, I am sure there is more nuance to this situation than is provided in this news release.

It would be well for Spectrum to research its articles carefully before choosing to promote a one-sided approach to a complex situation.


while slavery was abolished, how was it faced and addressed…were any of the slaves who’d worked
7 days/wk for decades paid for their labour…should that labour, that brought so much wealth to many Whites, be forgotten…are the Jim Crow laws that stretched from reconstruction to the '50’s completely inconsequential…should the descendants of slaves take what they got - freedom - and simply let bygones be bygones…

this is certainly what most GOP Whites want…their view is that no-one is owning slaves now, and so all is a level playing field…everyone needs to just move on…

more thoughtful individuals are seeing in the persistent wealth gap between Blacks and Whites the legacy of slavery and its aftermath - the incredible difficulty Black slaves and their descendants have experienced just to survive, let alone accumulate wealth:

slavery and its aftermath is actually a very big subject…if you’ve ever looked into it, you’ll know much more is needed now than a glib, insouciant conclusion that all is well because all are technically free…


Here’s a thought, slavery reparations are owed to all kinds of people in all kinds of countries. Slavery has been practiced since time began; and news flash - we are all, right now, benefitting from the slavery of some people somewhere, which makes us hypocrites unable to tell the big tech companies to clean up their act, as we look eagerly forward to the next version of the Apple iphone, not to mention good deals we get on Black Fridays every year, as we are hooked on the slave labor practiced every day in China. Just google child slaves in the cobalt hell holes of the Congo and you will see what our “techy” lifestyle is all about - both black and white.