“No light, no engagement; no light, no understanding.”
Transcript for In Thy Light, We See Light
I’ve always been the kind of person “get in where you fit in.” I was a black student leader on the campus when I got here, and we’d started the Black Caucus out of a support system for the minority students at that time. We did it for several reasons. One was for the sense of community, and also for the support system aspect; and the same time, for the cultural deficit that existed.
So from the aspect of being the black student leader on campus, I said, we need to get together and begin to gel the ideas and the concepts of what we could do at the university to make it more inclusive. So I ended up having a lot of engagements with the then-president, O.P. Kretzmann, to be able to heighten and show some of the differences, because, at that time, the university saw students in one just homogenous common, “Well, you’re students.” All students do the same, think the same, wanna do the same things, without any recognition that the students come from different backgrounds and different experiences.
And it was an education for him because from a religious background, you know, his perspective of Christianity, those kinds of things, but there was not really any chance to practice what you preach, so to speak. Talking about it, but now you’ve got somebody who’s the least of you, but you’re not doing anything to accommodate them, so that was kinda like one of the ongoing themes that I engaged with him about. And so I used the school motto, in lucem tua videmus lucem, to challenge him to say, you know what, you’re our president here, you’re the leader, and the motto says, “in thy light, we see light.” That’s the school’s motto. So, we engaged, or at least I engaged the president to say: in your light, we see light. If you don’t provide light, the university is dark. There’s gotta be light for all of the people at the university to see. So that’s how we started making the changes on the campus, with that perspective.
That kept us a little different, uh, from a lot of the other places where there was an out and out confrontation. We had at least that door open to begin to talk about no light, no engagement. No light, no understanding. Everybody here if they would really understand that and see how much they embrace or do not embrace that and let their light shine. So everytime you’re doing something, every time you’re interfacing in some aspect, if you’re taking the high ground, you’re letting your light shine. Instead of hearing, are you listening? Instead of looking, are you seeing? And that’s the challenge, I think. So when the students do that, the professors do that, then we’re gonna have a much better university.
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