Kyle Berg is a senior language arts student at Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska, and in early February, he nervously stood before Union's Board of Trustees to address the school's racist past. Berg wrote for The Clocktower, Union's official student paper,
From the 1930s to the 1960s, Union College participated in racial discrimination and segregation on campus. My point was that Union did take part in this, and my part was to insist that a formal apology be made by the college.
Union College has made headlines lately with the acrobatics accident and slow recovery of student Heather Boulais and the election and upcoming inauguration of its first woman president, Vinita Sauder. Union also received a $2 million donation from Florida's Adventist Health Systems to underwrite the Adventist Health System Endowed Chair of Business Administration. The apology for past descrimination is headline material of a more precarious nature.
Adventism in North America, especially, has a fairly well-documented history with racism. The discord racism has caused the church bubbled to the surface again in the wake of a sermon by Pastor Dwight Nelson of the Pioneer Memorial Church at Andrews University. Seen by many as a move to do away with regional conferences, the sermon evoked a Town Hall-style response from leaders in the Allegheny East Conference.
For Kyle Berg, the way to reconciliation began with admission of wrong and formal apology, and on February 9, he got precisely that from Union College's trustees. He said that it became apparent such a statement was needed after hearing stories from Union's alumni who had experienced discrimination. Berg heard from several alumni, and after conducting research, went to the board for action.
After the Board of Trustees heard about the research, process and most importantly Harriott’s stories, they voted to approve the formal apology letter on February 9, only a little less than a year later.
Read Kyle Berg's Clocktower article entitled "Union College Takes a Step Forward."
For a longer version of Berg's research, see "Racial Discrimination and Segregation at Union College from the 1930s to the 1960s," which won the 2014 Union College Board of Trustees Writing Award for Expository Writing.
Jared Wright is managing editor of SpectrumMagazine.org.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/6669