Statement on Racism
An Inclusive Campus Environment: Knowing, Embracing & Celebrating an Intercultural Campus
A Personal Statement by Former President Nicholas V. Kroeze
to the Kuyper College Community
March 18, 2010
I am very proud to see the history and present efforts by many people at the college with regard to diversity, anti-racism, fostering mutual respect across cultures, and to holding a continual eye to how well we reflect the inclusiveness of the Kingdom of God as seen through our interactions with all “races, languages, peoples and nations.” (Revelation 5.9) The missional purpose and spirit of Kuyper since its founding have characterized us as being particularly supportive of and encouraging toward international students, recognizing and appreciating how they enhance the quality of the educational and campus life experience for all of our students. We traditionally have been known—and remain so—as excellent hosts to these students, hearing back from many of them decades later of how much they still treasure their years at the college.
Herein lies a subtle yet strongly significant way of thinking that has impacted our ability to be a united and diverse community of Jesus: we benevolently view ourselves—the traditional, majority race—as the hosts, leaving all others to be perceived as the guests. The college has been well-intentioned and individuals have gone to extraordinary lengths “to welcome the stranger” (Matthew 25.35) but we need to appreciate the impact this mentality has on our serving minority students as equals throughout the college. These students—fellow citizens, members of our community, schoolmates of our children, leaders of our future—are certainly not guests: they are one with us as members of the body of Christ. (1 Corinthians 12) What are the implications of this realization?
I believe that we at Kuyper College need to acknowledge that our personal way of thinking, our corporate policies and procedures, our classroom practices, our campus environment and our demonstrated image to the public need to change—need to mature—so that we may first of all understand what it means to be free of racism—subtle, unintended or overt—so that we may then truly embrace every student equally and so be free to celebrate each other as an integral part (not guest) of our multi-cultural campus community.
I believe we need to be intentional in gaining understanding. This means that at every level—board, faculty, staff, student, constituency—we acknowledge our need for racial reform, plan to address it, speak to inspire it, and act to achieve it. Addressing racism and embracing diversity must be concepts and efforts that are part and parcel of every level of planning and activity the college engages in—foundational, integral and achievable.
I believe that anti-racism is not only an institutional effort, it must be a personal commitment as well. This means that the college must look for trustees and employees whose heart, spirit and personal activities reflect the desire to address issues of racism and that they demonstrate such in their interactions and involvements in their personal and professional lives.
I therefore call on the college community to assist me through individual activities, committee work, formulation of policies and procedures, curriculum review, campus life activities and mutual accountability to ensure that we are identifying, addressing and eradicating racism wherever it exists in our college. Likewise, I call on the college community to look for ways we can improve and celebrate our identity as a truly diverse community in Christ Jesus.
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In June of 2003, the presidents of area colleges signed the following statement:
The West Michigan College and University presidents together commit to combat racism whenever and wherever it appears in our institutions of higher education and in our community. To that end, we commit to education and ongoing training that will enable our leadership, faculty, and staff to better identify and address systemic and cultural racism in our institutions. We will encourage efforts to address the issues of racism, diversity, sensitivity and understanding in curricular and co-curricular ways for all students. And we pledge that our institutions will work together to:
- Share efforts and resources,
- Support activities of other institutions,
- Engage in appropriate reciprocal partnerships with the broader community,
- Hold each other accountable to these goals,
- Cooperate in concrete ways to promote anti-racist efforts and cultural diversity on our campuses.
Former President, Nicholas V. Kroeze was a signatory to this agreement and is committed to the diversity efforts of the campus and community. He continues to be a part of this group of college presidents and multi-cultural leaders that meet monthly and which Kuyper College also hosts on a bi-monthly basis.