SPU faculty members such as Tina Schermer-Sellers have recently shown their concern about the safety of students due to the U.S. president’s remarks against undocumented immigrants.
“I have been vocal across many issues over the years where I have believed it was important as an educated, privileged Christian woman to speak against injustice both inside and outside the church,” Schermer-Sellars said.
So she signed a statement that has been highly recognized by many other members of SPU faculty and administrators and circulating among faculty members of Christian and Catholic universities across the nation. The statement can be read on confessingfaculty.org, and any faculty member can sign the statement themselves.
The statement referred to the current political climate, saying that it revealed “long standing national sins of racism, misogyny, nativism and great economic disparity.” These issues, the document continues, prompted the creation of the statement.
In efforts to try and combat the current fears, 56 out of the 384 total faculty members at SPU have signed a statement related to the topic.
Schermer-Sellers is an associate professor of Marriage and Family Therapy and also holds the authoritative title of director of Medical Family Therapy.
After hearing about the statement on factnetglobal.org, a website endorsing education for global warming and social justice issues since 1993, Schermer-Sellers said she felt encouraged to show her support for it.
She feels that it is her duty as a professor at SPU to voice the injustice of those being oppressed.
“I believe every time we join with other members of our faith community to stand with those who are being marginalized and oppressed we are not being complicit in our silence,” she said.
In the introduction of the statement, the unnamed authors say that they were inspired by two institutions: North Park Theological Seminary, a graduate program located in Chicago and affiliated with the Evangelical Covenant Church and Westmont College located in Santa Barbara, California, affiliated with interdenominational christian faith.
Since the statement’s birth, faculty from nearly 160 universities across the U.S. have signed the statement.
The document explains that it is the religious duty of Christians to comfort and accept those who are in a place of injustice and insecurity.
The statement continues, saying that “as faculty members of Christian institutions of higher education who represent varying degrees of privilege and power (but who are not representing those institutions in this document), we, the undersigned, join our voices with those who are most vulnerable.”
Out of the 56 total SPU faculty members who signed the statement, not many gave reasons as to why they initially decided to sign.
Tim Nelson, a biology professor and current director of the Blakely Island Field Station, felt strongly about the need for this statement.
“Some kind of statement needs to be made, and I need to make it,” he said. “Signing a statement like this is a confession that in the past I have failed to make these statements.”
He says that his hesitance when speaking on these subjects in the past is what ultimately drove him to sign this statement in particular.
“I hope that my confession will lead to my being more willing to take action in support of Christian principles that challenge those who engage in hateful rhetoric, especially those that call themselves Christians,” he said.
Nelson encourages SPU students to read “The Hiding Place” by Corrie ten Boom. This book describes a story where a Christian was suspected of hiding Jews, resulting in them being placed in a concentration camp. The book analyzes how the Christian faith helped the main character overcome this challenge.
Regarding the statement, Nelson said “In terms of actions by and at SPU, it seems to me that our goals and progress, albeit slow, are consistent with this statement.”
Nelson said that his home and office are open to any undocumented students at SPU.
While the faculty members that signed the statement all hoped to alleviate the injustice that could potentially be served within U.S. college campuses, members of the SPU community focus highly on their religious commitment toward reconciliation.
Schermer-Sellers said, “Inside this activated community, there is a hope we can join together to find honoring and humble ways to serve those disempowered in efforts of reconciliation and empowerment.”