Discussion on diversity

The 19th annual SCORR conference addresses difficult topics on ethnic diversity with the theme of “His Beloved: The Bride of Christ.”

Sophomore nursing students lit a candle at a ceremony Saturday night to mark their official acceptance into the five-year program.

Sophomore nursing students lit a candle at a ceremony Saturday night to mark their official acceptance into the five-year program.

Jenna Schmidt, Writer

The Taiko drum group performs in Sutherland Hall during SCORR 2014. Biolans address the topic of diversity and its use on campus. | Karin Jensen/THE CHIMES [file photo]

 

The 19th annual Student Council on Racial Reconciliation conference, commonly known as SCORR, begins this Friday, Feb. 20, welcoming students and faculty from universities across the United States in an effort to open dialogue on racial tension at the Christian college level.

While the SCORR conference is not new to Biola University, the discussion it has invited the Biola community to participate in for the past several years has been shaped by the events of 2014.

“It most likely will come up throughout the conference regardless, because it is something that people are thinking about, confused about. If we are going to be Christ’s witnesses, we need to be able to address whatever issues are happening with society and to show the relevance of Christ and to mirror what justice and reconciliation and unity is,” said Glen Kinoshita, director of Multi-ethnic Programs and Development at Biola.

Kinoshita explained that the theme of the 2015 SCORR conference, “His Beloved: The Bride of Christ,” places diversity as a central aspect of the church. 

“This is also part of our message and our witness and testimony, is to reconcile people to God and to see people brought together, because when you’re baptized to Christ, you’re baptized into a body,” Kinoshita said. “SCORR seeks to bring that down into the Christian college realm, that we have this dialogue and see this dialogue grow and mature, so that we better mirror the diversity of God’s kingdom.”

The language of “diversity” often carries the connotation that it solely applies to ethnicity, an idea that senior sociology major Michelle Kim hopes will be redefined for the student body.

“When you think about diversity, people always think it’s about color. But diversity covers more than that,” Kim said. “Diversity isn’t necessarily ‘let’s see what kind of race you are.’ Rather, it also focuses on gender, on socio-economic status, on abilities — like we are able-bodied, but there are people on campus that are coping with disabilities, who are not able to see, or hear, or walk. Diversity covers all those aspects of God’s heart at the end of the day.”

In morning chapel on Wednesday, Feb. 18, associate professor of sociology at Western State Colorado University Melanie Hulbert said that racial reconciliation is the gospel, not simply an add-on or something that nice Christians do.

“I think racial reconciliation is the very heart of the gospel, especially today in a very divided America and in a divided world that provides the perfect arena to manifest and live out this reconciliation,” Hulbert said.

Hulbert also noted the negative connotations that often follow conversations about racial reconciliation, specifically understanding individual ethnic identity.

“The truth is, I haven’t experienced racism to the extent that others have, but I do know that my racial, ethnic identity is really important, and it says something about who I am. It also says that God made me to be white, and there’s a reason for that,” Hulbert said. “And I say that also knowing that being white in America today can carry with it some kind of guilt, some kind of shame, and some kind of oblivion.”

However, despite the negative connotations, students hope the Biola community can participate in active dialogue on racial reconciliation.

“Especially as Christians, we should be at the forefront on talking about reconciliation and justice and looking toward the marginalized and those who are oppressed,” said senior sociology major Asnat Ghebremedhin.

Junior psychology major Brenae Jones-Daniels hopes that students will attend SCORR with an open mind to the difficult conversations, with the goal to bring all cultures together to glorify God.

“Even if the response is negative, that in a way can still be taken as a good thing, because it’s still a response. I’d rather have a response than no response, because if there’s no response, then you just blatantly do not care. But if your response is negative, then you cared enough to voice it,” Jones-Daniels said. “There may be people who don’t want to hear it, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t do your part, that you don’t speak. Because just because they don’t want to hear it now doesn’t mean that ten years down the line what you said won’t resonate with them and change how they handle a situation.”

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