Assembly brings awareness to community
A university-wide call to repentance and prayer led to a tearful plea for understanding. | Marika Adamopoulos/THE CHIMES
Updated May 5 at 10:34 a.m.
Approximately 1,100 students, staff and faculty gathered on Metzger Lawn at 9:30 a.m. on May 4 to respond and pray about the recent swastika incident in Blackstone Hall.
Shifting to reconciliation
Students and faculty spoke to the audience regarding a swastika drawn above the door of two Blackstone residents: one African-American, the other Caucasian. Speakers at the event included various professors, administrators and students. Many attendees were brought to tears, saddened and disheartened by the apparent prior disinterest in issues vital to the reconciliation of the body of Christ.
Junior communications major Tebraie Johns came forward and informed the community of his primary concern regarding the desecration of the Christian cross defaced above his own door. The symbol’s association with racial hatred was a sad byproduct, but not his initial concern. However, he believes it became a catalyst for conversations that needed to occur.
President Barry Corey also spoke at the assembly, urging students to continue the conversation and not to allow the assembly to become an isolated event.
Junior intercultural studies major Amber Koch appreciated the conversations brought forth from the incident and has prayed for revival at Biola.
“I really like that the conversation has shifted to reconciliation because that is going to be eternal, where I feel like at Christian universities we are so tempted to talk about marriage and we’re so quick to talk about gender roles, which are both good things, but that is not going to be in heaven. Marriage will not be in heaven. Ethnicity will be. And reconciliation will be in heaven,” Koch said.
During a speech by sophomore sociology major Janae’ Sims, Koch and approximately 50 students stood and wore shirts with the word “Unheard” on the front. The group previously had conversations with administration about hosting an awareness week on campus. The “Unheard” shirts showed how students of color wanted to challenge administration to listen and work with them to change the reality of racial tension on campus.
“A group of us have been trying to do a white privilege week, which was supposed to be this week, we have been working since February every week,” said Stephanie Lindo, senior journalism broadcast major. “We had like three meetings with different deans, and vice provosts and we ended up getting shut down. And they told us they wouldn’t fund our shirts [for the awareness week] even though SPA [Student Programming and Activities] had already approved allotting the funds for it.”
Interim provost and senior vice president Deborah Taylor, believed the devil intended to divide the Biola community but God brought everyone together in unity through the incident.
“I think this event, the enemy intended it for evil, to divide our community to cause there to be a polarization, I think. And what God intends to do is to bring us together in unity. And I think this event is the beginning of that happening,” Taylor said. “And like [Pamela] Christian said, we’re working on so many things. I think we are going to see changes to the curriculum pretty quickly, I think we’re going to see more support for students of color, and that’s one thing I’ve been thinking about too, I don’t think the administration has always communicated clearly enough to students when things are in process.”