As we continue to engage collectively as a campus community, the University Diversity Committee (UDC), Staff Caucus Exec and Faculty Senate Exec have collaborated on the following statement as representation of the university’s broader campus wide commitment. As a community we will continue to take active steps to seek peace and justice.
In light of recent events, including the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, the University Diversity Committee, Staff Caucus Exec and Faculty Senate Exec are compelled by their commitments to the prophetic witness articulated in The Fresno Pacific Idea to take a clear stance condemning violence and racism at all levels: individually, communally, nationally, systemically and spiritually.
We grieve with every family and community that has lost a beloved sister or brother. Standing in solidarity with victims and their families, we mourn with these recent public victims along with the countless others whose stories may never be shared. The sorrow of lives that have been torn apart, both literally and figuratively, is incalculable.
We lament all murders that are a result of latent and blatant white supremacy, a view that is made manifest in episodes of police brutality. We emphatically condemn such violence, and we condemn racism in all its forms, boldly engaging in the prophetic task of “engaging in…critique of contemporary culture and practice” (Fresno Pacific Idea). This practice of truth-telling necessitates naming racism and white supremacy as evil. These evils become manifest in the sins of human action and inaction. We recognize our complicity in these evils, whether conscious or not, and we repent of these sins. The Apostle Paul offers these instructions: “No longer present your members to sin as weapons of wickedness, but present…your members to God as weapons of righteousness” (Romans 6:13). Paul’s strong language demands that we as Christians take a strong stand against sin and evil in every form, including the forms of racism, oppression and injustice.
President Joseph Jones has recently called the FPU community to move beyond “rhetoric about our values” (“A Message No One Wants to Hear,” June 2, 2020). Likewise, we have taken seriously the words of Scripture that urge, “Let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action” (1 John 3:18). This call from Scripture itself discourages relegating racism and white supremacy to spiritual problems with only spiritualized solutions.
To that end, Staff Caucus and Faculty Senate Exec are committed to partnering with the UDC in the work that it has been undertaking on a comprehensive University Diversity Plan that is aimed at actively engaging anti-racist actions. This comprehensive, five-year diversity plan is tied closely to the University’s Strategic plan. The plan outlines several action steps, such as plans for matching faculty and staff demographics more closely to student demographics, course “Diversity Audits” and bias-incident response procedures that will contribute to culturally sustaining pedagogical practices, increased intercultural competence among students and pathways to vocations that will equip FPU alumni to carry out the task of engaging the cultures and serving the cities broken by racial violence in California’s Central Valley and beyond.
In short, we are already taking active steps to ensure that the FPU community is equipped to practice “reconciliation and love in settings of violence, oppression and injustice” (Fresno Pacific Idea) in the service of bringing about God’s Reign on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10). As we continue to work toward this vision, we encourage all staff, faculty and offices at FPU even now to pursue introspection, reflection, conversation and education about issues of race and diversity. The UDC remains available to provide resources that will facilitate these endeavors and is eager to foster partnerships both within the FPU community and beyond in contributing to the full flourishing of all God’s people.