"It's an ultimatum! But what does that do? What are they going to do after a week?"
We are not sure, but we do know they are actively seeking dialogue with the administration. I have heard from some sources that the students intend to meet with administration on Tuesday. We ought to pray that that meeting might bring healing and peace and understanding. The speakers themselves do not say it is an ultimatum so we should reserve from mislabeling things; however, for those who want to hold up dictionaries and say yeah but it's still an ultimatum, then the question comes back to you: What's wrong with an ultimatum?
Are ultimatums inherently bad? Since when? Let us not commit a logical fallacy in assuming ultimatums are inherently negative. In fact, in relationships, ultimatums can be a very good thing because it can show the offending party how serious the hurts are.
So even if it was an ultimatum (which its not--rather, it is a demarcation of the timeframe within which they want to come to agreements with the university administration)--then the critics need to prove their case for why ultimatums are inherently bad.
Moreover, there is a particular reason why they are using the one week timeline.
"I don't like the tone. The tone is demanding. They are entitled millennials!"
I am going to try to assume the best about this criticism even though this criticism commits the same fault it accuses the speakers of the video for. (Who made you the arbiter of tone and pain?)
To answer this, I would say that when social change is being mustered, it takes all sorts of voices and tones. Polite and restrained speaking only gets one so far. The students believed that it was time to take a different tone--perhaps a more direct tone, but still a polite tone nonetheless. (I mean, the video's message is fairly restrained).
"Why didn't they mention specific actions of institutional racism?"
If they had, would you have believed them to be true for the general Andrews experience, or would you have rationalized them way as unfortunate one-time events that in no way describe the whole of Andrews? How many specifics would you have wanted?
"Hiring based on their ethnicity is just as bad as hiring only white people!"
Ok, well, that's not what the petition stated. The request was not to hire ethnic individuals in a de facto manner, but rather to hear in a formal document that the university is committed to going out of its way to diversify its faculty and staff in a manner reflective of the student body. This is a good thing by the way. Students identifying with the people governing them helps mentorship. Now, I will admit that this is the most complex request and one for which the administration may not be completely at fault.
For example, I have spoken to enough administrators to know that generally speaking, our Adventist institutions are committed to creating racially diverse departments. However, there are challenges in actually making that happen. Sometimes the qualified applicants are just not there or fi they are, they are not applying.
Now, we might further deconstruct this and ask if perhaps the qualified PoC candidates do exist but simply lie outside the social circle of the deans of departments. After all, you might say, it's not about what you know but who you know. And that's fair but it's a call I cannot make. So the staffing is the most difficult issue to address and I'm not sure if I would've made that petition explicit in the video had I been in charge, but they did and I understand why.
"Black style of worship is out of harmony with biblical principles just like the white style of worship is."
Ok, well the problem here is that from my understanding, it is more popular for the first part of that statement to be taught then the second part. Additionally, since the "white style" is the norm for many of our institutions, it can be easy to infer that that must be the ideal. Honestly, I think that both styles would probably lean closer to biblical harmony if they were forced to co-exist in the same stages. Whether or not they are in harmony or out of harmony, we must recognize this: in the never-ending music debate in our church where the white/European tradition of reverent piano and hymn music is presented as the holiest, it is our black brothers and sisters who end up being castigated for their charisma, enthusiasm, and rhythms. (I mean, there are a lot of preachers and teachers who have made entire ministries out of teaching how African/black styles of music are more evil than European/white styles of music so the ethnocentrism is real.)
So yes, perhaps there are issues across the ethnic spectrums with Adventist worship, but I do think it's completely fair for black voices to ask that Adventists stop de facto demonizing what our black brothers and sisters bring to the table.
"Why are you demanding an apology? Jesus never demanded an apology for anything."
Ok well technically He asks us to repent as a part of our salvation process. Repentance is a confession of being in the wrong and an active turning away towards the right. So....
"They already issued an apology last year"
I have seen a number of people reference an address given by President Luxton last October in which she apologized on behalf of the university. And that was great, but #ItsTimeAU is not about that. #ItsTimeAU is a response to particular events that occurred on campus over the last two weeks—events that left minority students on campus feeling disappointed and undermined. Therefore, the apology and plan of action being requested in this video is something like a check on the institution.
It's saying, Hey, here we are going to hold you accountable to what you said you were going to do last year because we feel like you once again prioritized a white conservative group over us minorities. Additionally, the manifesto or plan of action being asked for is to help students and university administrators be on the same page about how to make Andrews University the best place it can be for everyone.
Even the title of the program, "Journey Towards Healing and Union" acknowledges healing and union will be a journey, and journeys take time and sometimes have ups and downs.
"(Insert biblical quote about how we all suffer persecutions)"
Haha. Ok. Yes, I agree that this world and even this church will never be perfect. But aren't you the same person who says we should never be complacent in our walk but strive for excellence?
And isn't that what this is all about?
Have we forgotten the roots of our heritage? Adventist pioneers were fearless in their abolitionist views. They participated in breaking the government law to help fugitive slaves. They believed that once slaves had been freed, they needed to be educated and given a trade (so that their humanity would be restored) and then called to follow Jesus.
Our pioneers believed that we could see the Land Beast acting like a dragon in its oppression of blacks. Are we able to call out the Land Beast's actions today, and not just within partisan lines?
Yes, we ended up having to accommodate to the racism of the South because of violence, but the separation of ethnic groups was not supposed to be the norm. Just because we have institutionalized the separation and white-European normalcy doesn't make it ok.
In fact, 92% of the Adventist church resides in the Global South.
The average Adventist church member is a poor brown/black woman.
These voices pushing for change and pushing towards more diverse teaching in our institutions are prophetic and necessary for anyone who wants to truly dwell and serve in our global Adventist communities.
And if you believe in united, integrated, wholesome, and reconciled communities, then I would say that you might be suited to support this message. I have friends who are at Andrews and are involved in this and so I am fully supporting them.
But even if you are not comfortable completely supporting them right now, then in the very least pray that this might be the next step in the church's racial healing process. And perhaps, go and really commit yourself to diversity--not just racial, but ideological and generational so that we might truly be a united body of Jesus Christ.