#ItIsTimeAU: Listen. Dialogue. Change. Andrews University Responds to Viral Video

During the February 23, 2017, Thursday morning chapel service at Andrews University, administration and student leaders responded to the #ItIsTimeAU video that went viral on Saturday, February 18, 2017, with a video of their own, entitled, “ItIsTimeAU: Listen. Dialogue. Change.”

The video was met with a standing ovation from the audience. The church was full to capacity, and an overflow room was set up in the Youth Chapel to accommodate additional audience members. Those off-campus could live-stream the chapel service at andrews.edu/livestream.

Andrews also posted a list of five commitments and next steps to its website which can be read here.

The first commitment states that “Andrews University will immediately begin a search for a full-time, senior-level administrator of diversity, a new cabinet-level position that reports directly to the president and will drive meaningful, visible and ongoing change.” Other commitments center around revised and expanded cultural diversity training, continued diversification of faculty, staff, and administration, a strengthened grievance process, and a commitment to honor, support, and celebrate “all the ways we seek and achieve community – including how we gather and worship together.”

WATCH: “ItIsTimeAU:

Alisa Williams is Spirituality Editor at SpectrumMagazine.org

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/7887
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wow…this andrews university response video is so direct, intentional and moving…i’m really believing that andrews’ best days are ahead…

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The ironic part was things were probably going smoother before the video that started this whole thing. Now a whole new obscure ethereal department level has been created to deliver on the nebulous, unquantifiable “change”.

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In events such as this people respond ONLY to the Letter Of The Law, or Letter Of The Policy.

Hearts are never changed, attitudes do not change when one is coerced by another group.
Only Lip Service is maintained. So the REAL change that is looked for never does arrive.

Remember the “Homeless Shelter” fund raising event. Did NOT change anything in Administration.
Ultimatums are usually found to backfire on the one’s giving them.
I don’t recall the LG’s giving ultimatums. Just announced their plight of not being able to "help"
those in need. Raised thousands more than could have at a Village Market bake sale as a result.

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Black Student Christian Forum has succeeded in persuading Andrews University to hire a cabinet-level officer in charge of diversity and take unspecified actions to promote diversity in the curriculum, strengthen the grievance process, and celebrate different worship styles. It was easy for the University to agree to all of the Forum’s demands, paltry as they are, because the University has been doing for a very long time much of what the Forum chose to demand.

It would have been nice to see the students lead a march to the Lake Union headquarters one-half mile down the road, hold a press conference, and demand the integration of the Union’s racially-segregated conferences. Student leaders of the Forum could have also placed calls to Southern Poverty Law Center, Black Lives Matter, and various other national organizations with records of significant accomplishment for guidance on what other reasonable demands for meaningful change could be made.

There is a limited reservoir of political oxygen on any campus. The biggest mistake students can make, especially highly talented students such as the Forum’s leaders, is to underestimate themselves and squander opportunities. But I think we all can be proud of our students at Andrews University who are putting their Christianity into action to make the world a better place.

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I’ve never lived in America though I have often visited. I struggle with many American shiboleths. I understand that the two majority skin colors in America ie black and white, are particularly sensitive to the way that the other deals with them. I once was in a third country and was brought face to face with an American young woman of a different skin color than my own. The two of us were part of a small group of individuals. Apparently this lady felt quite strongly about the fact that in her eyes I was ignoring her. And she let it be known in rather unambiguous terms which left me questioning myself. But I could not see her point of view. for this was never my intention.

I Corinthians 13 reminds us all that love is easily entreated. Yet love also demands that we restrain ourselves from forcing each other to be politically correct! In our relations with those who are different from us there is a delicate balance to be maintained. I trust that this balance has been maintained in this situation. I am too far from the situation in question to make an informed judgement about this!

However, I do know that people can be in a rush to judge others altogether too harshly when the situation involves relations between people of differing races. It is also easy but not so wise to condemn practices of former generations without much thought! This is folly!!

Several weeks ago I heard a story of how in the 1950’s the very English principal of Avondale College [or the Australasian Missionary College, as it was at the time] sought to prevent an inter-racial friendship. The two young friends did not differ greatly in their skin color. And in fact the two individuals involved were from neighbouring countries but differing cultures. In defence of the principal, he was merely seeking to provide guidance to these two individuals within the system operating on campus at the time where the faculty were adjunct parents to students.

I assume a cabinet level position has a total annual manpower cost associated with it on the order of about 10 student-years worth of tuition. And, the annual cost in man-hours of the diversity training will be on the order of 10-20 student-years worth of tuition. Put another way, tuition at AU will need to be increased by an amount equivalent to 20-30 students’ tuitions in order to pay for this initiative. Will next year’s poorer students complain about economic injustice?

I found it interesting to hear the apology in the video for earlier prohibitions of interracial dating. Since those were rooted in EGW’s counsel against interracial marriage, was Andrews apologizing for EGW? Or simply apologizing for following her counsel?

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Good for you, Andrews. Thanks for stepping up to the plate. May this purposeful spirit of humility and dialogue pervade every Adventist campus on the planet.

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Andrews University’s administration was put on a one week notice by some black AU American students demanding a response to their grievances. The administration’s top officials and key players produced an unprecedented video that is going viral, world-wide, for public consumption, to oblige, within less than a week. Something not seen nor heard of in Adventist history before, to my knowledge. The future will tell if this will be used as ammunition against AU to raise court cases for compensation of past mis-treatment and injustices committed against the AU’s black community. Therein lies a potential for the bankruptcy of our beloved AU. Meanwhile, the budget for a “cabinet-level” (a political terminology for sure) director of diversity appointee will possibly have to be reflected in raised tuition fee. I may stand corrected, but I am not aware that AU has ever had a black President. To make good her apology Dr Luxton may have to cede her position to a Black President. AU’s Board chairperson will also need to be black. In the UK we have what one might terrm reverse-positive discrimation in favour of the black Adventist church community. All three Presidents of the Union and two conferences are Blacks from the West Indies following on a trend which began in the 1980s when Black members from London rebelled against and ended Presidential White supremacy. Conversely, Newbold College has only had White Presidents since its beginnning in 1901. This is due to the fact that it is a Trans European Division funded and chaired institution. That Division has also only had White Presidents all along (today led by a more White than light brown Lebanese married to a White Scandinvian). Come to think of it, all GC Presidents have been White males from the very beginning. At least one consolation is that it’s only Blacks that are treated unfairly, and being discriminated against (as bad as that is and for which there is no justification), and not the plethora of other ethnic minorities on AU campus. I cannot quite fathom as to why one colour of the whole spectrum of skin colours has been so mis-treated for generations, at AU that called for such a jaw-dropping, profuse waterfall of apology from the AU President to the PMC Lead pastor and every other VIP on the AU campus. Since AU is a GC institution, one wonders if the GC officer team and education department had a say in the matter. And what about the GC legal department. Were they consulted? I somehow get the impression that that video was a well-intentioned and well-meaning knee-jerk reaction. One can only hope and pray that the saying, “Q: what do you do with a can of worms, A: you open a bigger one”, will not apply to AU.

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Solid! This is the kind of sound, wise, spiritual leadership we can expect when we ask bright, principled, God-fearing women of the Church to run things. My faith and confidence in my alma mater hold firm. Happy to be sending two of my sons there, to that wonderful institution, in the very near future.

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I also found that very interesting. I feel they were trying too hard to be politically correct and therefore left the door open to exactly what you said above. So sad.

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I wonder what would have happened if AU hadn’t given in to the angry “one week” ultimatum.

A BLM-type retaliation? Burning cars, cinder blocks thru windows, “speaking truth” via vandalism?

We all know many black alumni from Andrews who had an excellent racial experience there. They have gone on to enjoy prosperous, highly successful lives, and are not willing to waste time moaning and complaining about what might be labeled imperfect. These movers and shakers produce a very powerful silent rebuke to those who would rather rant and call it a “sermon”.

So how many white professors will be quitting in order to make room for “equal representation in faculty”?

Paul said “I have learned to be content in any circumstance.” Kowlessar says, “I won’t be content and neither should you.”

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With all due respect, but I don’t understand how your statement at the end can be interpreted as anything but a sexist statement. “Now a woman president.” General Conference policy allows for that and Andrews is a GC institution. I believe even Ted Wilson himself said that he didn’t have a problem with Andrea Luxton being president. So please explain how the fact that you don’t like a female being president isn’t sexist.

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This is a step forward. A very small step. But what of the LGBT community that is systematically spoken against in official publications at Andrews University and symposia? We stand in solidarity but also demand that more LGBT staff be hired and that diversity cover all diversity, not just some. They also need to have facilities that welcome transgender students which are all but unseen on campus because of the way they are marginalized.

Was there a specific incident or moment that precipitated this event, or was it something simmering for a long time that finally had to find an outlet?

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I was going to say that if black students still have racism issues after a century and a half and post Civil Rights legislation in the land of the free and the home of thge brave, AT the very flagship of higher Ed of “God’s Remnant Church” , then just get up and register elsewhere. I have not heard about spitting in faces, or lynchings at secular universities, recently. But I am impressed with the dignity and firm but low-key demand for racial justice by the black student leadership at Andrews University. I am also impressed with the response of Andrews’ Admin. These are good whites, determined to exhibit the best of christian principles. I hope this mutual love fest endures. Bravo Andrews!!!

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Hmph. This seems vague.

HA

Did God counsel against interracial marriage? Is the discussion of race even in the Bible? The Bible speaks of being unequally yoked spiritually, not because of skin color. God made us different hues, it is man that has created the separation of people because of color and culture. Just because Mrs. White counseled against interracial marriage does not mean it was a Biblical mandate. First and foremost we are to follow God’s counsel, and His word says, “…for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God,whom we cannot see?” 1 John 4:20 Also …“Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace…There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all.” Ephesians 4:3 & 5.(NLT)

Finally, refer to the book of Acts where God gives Peter the vision of the sheet full of unclean animals. After the vision Peter replies, “I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism. In every nation He accepts those who fear him and do what is right.” Act 10

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I’m late on this topic but find it interesting that the actions of students to do something about injustice at an institution that has systematically discriminated against them has made such a positive impact on the administration at Andrews. Almost to good to be true. I should feel proud of these young people and hopeful that their experiences will be different now that change is in the horizon, however I feel like they are setting themselves up for more disappointment. You see, the worse kind of bigotry and prejudices are not systemic but come in the form of micro-messaging which lead to micro-inequities. You know those attitudes and behaviors that you can sense and feel but you can’t necessarily see it, hear it or even have language to describe it.

You can create as many diversity offices and officers as you like, even include policies to mandate inclusive behaviors but only Jesus through the power of the holy spirit can change a person’s heart to see you as an equal. To see you as a child of God, to be valued, loved and accepted as you are. Despite the changes of the administration, those micro-messages will be there in the dead faces, sneers and lack of attention that will pervade chapel during times when a more ethnic approach is taken and there will be nothing any person can do about it. This is why it is so important to love and accept yourself and find your worth in Christ alone. Not in the eyes of man or an institution that may never be able to appreciate you as long as sinful hearts make up the organization.

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