As a Christian university, Whitworth strives to educate the “mind and heart” while integrating Christian values into the curriculum of every class. As a result, Whitworth attracts students who are Christian or were raised with Christian influences. Nevertheless, it is important to note that ‘most students’ are not ‘all students.’ While all faculty are required to have a Christian commitment, Whitworth welcomes students from all faith backgrounds.
But a dissonance arises here. Whitworth is a Christian institution, but the student body is more diverse than one might imagine. A number of students have expressed a discomfort with some class structures failing to be sensitive to students with non-Christian worldviews.
We believe that Whitworth succeeds in familiarizing students with viewpoints outside of Christianity. The Core classes, for instance, provide students with diverse worldview perspectives from thinkers such as Plato, Aristotle, Buddha and Nietzsche. Additionally, our course catalog consists of 432 diversity-oriented courses.
While the university clearly has made strides toward creating a more diversity-friendly atmosphere, there are still many steps students and faculty alike can take to establish a more welcoming academic environment.
Whitworth instructors and students commonly make statements beginning with, “We believe.” In using these collective pronouns, professors and students subtly suggest that all Whitworthians subscribe to a singular belief system, which can make non-Christians feel left out of the academic community. Careful consideration of the wording in statements of belief may help to make non-Christian students feel more welcomed.
In a similar trend, assignments often ask students to consider how they approach a subject from a Christian perspective. Responding to these kinds of questions can be difficult for students from non-Christian backgrounds. Instead, assignments such as these can ask students to consider how they approach the subject from their individual worldviews.
Whitworth has an institutional commitment to loving across religious differences. With this in mind, we urge students and faculty to carefully consider how they can make the academic environment more open to perspectives other than Christianity.
Editorials in the “In the Loop” section reflect the majority opinion of the Editorial Board, comprised of five editors.