Whitworth grad attends Obama Foundation Summit

Rachael Ayres | Staff Writer

Ashton Skinner, a 2015 Whitworth graduate, recently had the privilege of attending the second Obama Foundation Summit after completing the Obama Foundation Community Leadership Corps program. The summit was held in Chicago on  Nov. 18 and 19.

According to the Obama Foundation’s website, the goal of the Leadership Corps is to “empower and train young leaders to create the world they want to live in by working to address an issue in their community.” The program is for people 18-25 who live in Columbia, SC, Phoenix, AZ and Chicago, IL.

Skinner applied to the Leadership Corps and was selected as one of 35 young leaders from Phoenix. During the six months of training, participants were given mentorship and funding from the Obama Foundation to respond to an issue in their local community.

“That mentorship was really indispensable for us. And really, it is such a cool thing that they are investing in so many individuals who will be able to then give back to their communities,” Skinner said.

Skinner’s project for the Leadership Corps coincided with their work as a transgender & millennial outreach coordinator at the non-profit ONE Community. ONE Community is an Arizona “statewide coalition of socially responsible businesses and individuals who support diversity, inclusion and equality,” according to its website.

Skinner’s project was founding QuTopia, a website that connects trans people to resources for addiction and recovery, crisis intervention, mental and behavioral health, pediatrics and adolescent care, primary care, sexual health and family planning, social and peer support groups, specialists, transition-related care and more in Arizona. Skinner had help from friends they recruited to be on their project team.

“For my project I built a Yelp! style directory website that hosts profiles like listings for doctors and therapists who treat trans patients. That way trans people can find safe, direct access to competent medical care, which is a huge need here and something that is often a really big hurdle to people transitioning in Arizona,” Skinner said.

Arizona ranks 12th in the United States for concentration of transgender adults, according to the Williams Institute.

At the Obama Foundation, Skinner met with the other individuals from the three cities who had been also working on their own community related projects for the last six months.

“It was really cool because we all had in common the celebration of our hard work and common values but we didn’t know much about each others’ projects. So, we got to learn from each other and talk about the different ways we were impacting our communities,” Skinner said.

While attending Whitworth, Skinner met professor of political science, Kathryn Lee who, with another faculty member, hosted a book discussion group at her house on a book that was “trying to sort through LGBTQ issues and Christian theology,” she said. Lee and Skinner have continued to stay in touch.

“It has been an important friendship for me, to educate me about [Skinner’s] life and what it is like,” Lee said. “It is just spectacular that a Whitworth alum was apart of the Obama Foundation Summit.”

To learn more about Skinner's work at ONE Community and QuTopia, go to https://www.onecommunity.co/ and  https://qutopia.us/.

More information about the 2018 Obama Foundation Summit can be found at, https://www.obama.org/summit-2018/roots/.

Beeksma Theology Center dedication and Storm Family Dean of Spiritual Life installment

‘Oh, no no no, we are not going to go the route of the other universities and colleges, some of which who used to be strongly promoting a Christian mission and aren’t doing that anymore. We intend to maintain that mission and we have got a symbolic center to convey that.’

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Accreditation results

Whitworth was commended on “a strong and uniform sense of mission,” “the thoughtful, collaborative and productive work of faculty and staff through the shared governance structure,” and its “robust use of institutional research, information systems, data analytics, and mathematical models as well as its advanced work related to data security.”

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Response to "Masks"

Courtney Murphy | Editor-in-Chief

Yesterday, the Whitworthian published an online opinions article where the author discussed a personal experience with discrimination on campus.

This morning, the office of diversity, equity & inclusion issued a statement via Whitworth Advisory email called "Whitworth Committed to Safe Learning Environment" responding to the article and stating their commitment to "creating and sustaining a learning community that provides a safe and constructive environment for all students."

Contact Courtney Murphy at cmurphy18@my.whitworth.edu.

Read the statement in full below.

Dear Whitworth Community,

In a recent online article published in The Whitworthian, an anonymous Whitworth student details an alleged experience with racial discrimination in the classroom. The university became aware of this situation in the middle of Jan Term, and it began a timely and formal investigation pursuant to its antidiscrimination and harassment policies. As part of the initial inquiry into these allegations, and before any formal investigation was initiated, the student, the professor, and other individuals familiar with the allegation were interviewed multiple times. In addition to myself, the university provost, associate provost and members of the office of student diversity, equity & inclusion were deeply invested in discovering the truth. After those initial conversations, the student declined to file a formal complaint and has refused to participate in a formal investigation. Despite the student’s refusal to participate, the university has continued its formal inquiry, and no determination of racial discrimination has been made to date.

The university takes any such allegation seriously, which is why a formal and thorough investigation was launched even after the student decided against filing a formal complaint. The university has been, and continues to be, very invested in this matter. Whitworth’s faculty, staff and administration agree that there is no tolerance for the mistreatment of students, either inside or outside of the classroom, based on race, gender, nationality, ableness, sexual orientation, or any other dimension of human difference. Additionally, the university remains committed to creating and sustaining a learning community that provides a safe and constructive environment for all students. Any behavior that devalues another human being is not consistent with the university’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, a commitment grounded in the university’s Christ-centered mission.

Lorna Hernandez Jarvis, Ph.D.
Chief Diversity Officer and Associate Vice President for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Whitworth Universit

ASWU executive-elects speak on their hopes for the future, campaign experience

ASWU president-elect Tersa Almaw wants to get students involved with events on campus.

ASWU president-elect Tersa Almaw wants to get students involved with events on campus.

Cambria Pilger | Staff Writer

The results from the recent election resulted in junior Tersa Almaw as president, sophomore Andrews Boateng as executive vice president and sophomore Chelsea Shearer as financial vice president. Each elect had a different experience during the campaign process and looks forward to working in ASWU and developing new relationships within the Whitworth community.

Almaw wants to better unite Whitworthians in order to give them a shared experience as well as to find new ways to get more students involved in events, she said. She also hopes to spark conversation about the issues in our community.

Boateng desires to help Whitworth students become more service-oriented both on and off campus. He plans to make ASWU more inclusive through brainstorming how to incorporate different groups that do not feel like their voices are being heard currently.

One of Shearer’s goals is to make the responsibilities of the financial vice president role more known and present at Whitworth. She plans to meet with club leaders frequently and to create a comfortable environment for students to talk with her. Along with clubs and club leaders, Shearer will continue meeting new people on campus, she said.

EVP-elect Andrews Boateng hopes to make ASWU a more transparent organization.

EVP-elect Andrews Boateng hopes to make ASWU a more transparent organization.

“I think next year there’s going to be a lot of changes,” Shearer said. “I think there were so many more people voting in this election because they want change, and so I think that Teri and Andrews and I are going to implement a lot more of what students have been asking for.”

As president, Almaw also hopes to integrate intersectionality because it is very important to her, she said. Since she is taking fewer credits next semester than she usually does, Almaw said she will have more time to serve and give all that she can to the community.

One of Boateng’s goals is to make ASWU more transparent. He will work alongside Shearer to communicate with students about how their money is being used.

During the campaign, balancing work, school, campaigning and time to be alone was a challenge, Almaw said. Meeting up with new people, encouraging them to vote, and being surrounded by people for long periods was overwhelming at times, she said. It was exciting to meet new people, however, and taught her to push herself out of her comfort zone and genuinely talk to people. She learned to interact with people more and reach out to others, she said.

FVP-elect Chelsea Shearer wants to create a comfortable environment for club leaders.

FVP-elect Chelsea Shearer wants to create a comfortable environment for club leaders.

Boateng said he is glad that students were able to experience democracy on campus during the election and to get involved. The campaign period was not long enough to fully campaign, he said. He wishes there had been more time to meet one-on-one with students and to hear everyone’s voices.

“I want us to put whatever happened in the election behind us and work towards a common goal of making this campus a better place,” Boateng said. “My message is we can coexist despite our differences. I want us to be united no matter what you believe; no matter who you are.”

For Shearer, the campaign gave her time to relate to others on campus, she said. It was challenging to manage time, especially when balancing door-to-door visits, campaigning, and talking to others.

The elections were a stressful time for all the candidates, Shearer said. It was a lot of work but very fun. The candidates each grew together and realized that students want change and new ideas, she said.

Contact Cambria Pilger at cpilger21@my.whitworth.edu.

President Taylor leads blessing ceremony for new Beeksma family theology center

Cambria Pilger| Staff Writer 

As the new Beeksma Family Theology Center construction is underway, president Beck Taylor held a blessing ceremony for the new space. The ceremony took place in the chapel on April 12 with attendees from the board of trustees as well as Whitworth students, faculty and staff.

Breaking ground on a new project is always exciting at Whitworth, Taylor said. It is a tradition to gather and pray for safety of those working on the project as well as for successful completion, he said.

Ian Busik|Photographer   President Taylor giving a speech at the blessing ceremony of the new Beeksma family theology center 

Ian Busik|Photographer 

President Taylor giving a speech at the blessing ceremony of the new Beeksma family theology center 

During the ceremony, Taylor introduced another gift for Whitworth’s campus ministry. The donors, who wish to remain anonymous, gifted $3 million to establish an endowed dean of spiritual life position. This gift will allow for expanded campus ministry programs and increased chapel staff. It is believed to be the first of its kind among the nation’s Christian colleges and universities, according to a Whitworth press release from April 12, 2018.

“I think one of the main focuses and part of why this is happening is to keep Christ in the center, and this ceremony is a good way to bring everybody together and reaffirm that and just to pray over everything to come and to continue to keep Christ in the center,” sophomore Andrew Beeksma said.

Campus pastor Forrest Buckner said the ceremony was a time to acknowledge God as the giver of all gifts and to take time to receive this gift from God. It is also a chance to thank the amazing people who have given these gifts to make the project possible, he said.

It is a celebration of where the university is headed and a chance to get excited about what campus ministry and life in the chapel will be like next year, junior Tom Dale said.

There have been many supporters and sponsors for the project. The biggest contribution came from the Beeksma family, primarily Barney and Joyce Beeksma, for whom the project is named. The family donated $1.5 million in total.

Ian Busik|Photographer   Crowd gathered to attend the blessing ceremony of the Beeksma family theology center 

Ian Busik|Photographer 

Crowd gathered to attend the blessing ceremony of the Beeksma family theology center 

Along with their donation, Barney and Joyce Beeksma charged Whitworth with the task of keeping Christ at the center of all that happens on campus, Taylor said.

Whitworth’s mission is to expand God’s kingdom through higher education. The recent gifts and chapel expansion contribute to that mission of honoring God, following Christ, and serving humanity, Taylor said.

“I love creating new spaces for students to congregate, to relate to one another, to grow in relationship, to walk through life together,” Taylor said.

Buckner said the new space will also allow more students to engage in campus ministry and have natural connection with other faculty, staff, and students.

The Seeley G. Mudd chapel was first constructed in 1978. Increases in the theology department caused the department to recenter to Westminster. Theology professor Jerry Sittser originally presented his idea for the expansion to Taylor. He had a vision to re-center the theology department back into the chapel.

The renovation will be finished by the beginning of fall 2018, and there will be a formal dedication of the completed project on Oct. 11, 2018.

The theology center expansion will bring new offices for more than 20 faculty and staff as well as new student spaces. There will be a new audio and video system, more restrooms and increased seating.

The ceremony ended with a prayer of dedication from Buckner and a congressional sing of “Amazing Grace”.


ASWU holds annual executive debates

Cambria Pilger| Staff Writer 

Whitworth students and staff gathered to watch the ASWU executive candidate debate in Lied Square on Tuesday, April 10. After an introduction from each of the six candidates, the candidates answered general questions, positions-specific questions and questions from audience members.

Each candidate ran for one of three ASWU positions: president, executive vice president, and financial vice president. The candidates for ASWU president were juniors Tersa Almaw and Hunter Smit. The candidates for executive VP were sophomore Andrews Boateng and senior Ethan Clardy, and sophomores Chelsea Shearer and Bakari Green were running for the financial VP position.

Each candidate spoke on the issues they believe need change and the change they want to implement. They all said that they hope to represent students more.

Each candidate also said they have learned how to manage their time well through being involved on campus in academics, clubs, work, and relationships.

Almaw said she wants to create a space in which students can talk, come together and discuss important issues without being separated by differences. The ASWU president should lead others toward positive moral change and invite all students to respect one another and come together, she said.

“Listening allows understanding. Listening allows engagement in the conversation,” Almaw said.

Smit said he hopes to make ASWU more transparent and open and to become friends with people to make himself more accessible as president. In ASWU it is important to ask hard questions, seek the truth, and look at issues in a more binary way without letting personal agenda and personal political beliefs get in the way, he said.

“Leadership in general, when you can inspire people to do the best work possible, is great,” Smit said.

Clardy said it is important to ask questions and learn other perspectives. As  EVP, the main role is to reach out to senators and make sure ideas are addressed. He wants to input more clubs, bring ASWU members to more casual events, and take all voices into consideration when voting on topics, he said.

Ian Busik| Photographer  From left to right sophomore Andrews Boateng, senior Ethan Clardy, juniors ersa Almaw and Hunter Smit, and sophomores Chelsea Shearer and Bakari Green.

Ian Busik| Photographer

From left to right sophomore Andrews Boateng, senior Ethan Clardy, juniors ersa Almaw and Hunter Smit, and sophomores Chelsea Shearer and Bakari Green.

Boateng said he wants to work closely with senators to make sure they represent the residents and to be open and available so people can reach out to him. People want more transparency and inclusion and want their voices to be heard, he said. Whitworth has come a long way, but it is time to begin moving in the right direction, he said.

Beside international students, there are also many other minority groups such as first-generation students, LGBTQ+ students, and students with disabilities. Boateng said it is important to listen to all voices and not downplay or lift up one over another. He said he hopes to do so by going to different meetings and fostering communication.

Shearer said she wants to implement clear expectations of what’s going to happen throughout the year with ASWU and the Whitworth community. ASWU is the main thing that ties Whitworth together and presents a strong sense of community, she said.

It is important to work one-on-one with the clubs and leaders as financial VP, she said. If elected, she hopes to bring communication and compassion in the role.

Honest communication is the best policy, Green said. Through his experience, he said he has noticed that some clubs feel left out on campus, and he hopes to pursue a relationship with clubs and their leadership.

Executives should be reaching out to people on campus, regardless of position, Green said. It is important to empower the LGBTQ+ community to have its own voice as well as to learn from and support them from a basis of self-determination rather than his own actions.

Many of the candidates were asked questions regarding the international students on campus, because of recent discussions regarding the addition of an international student representative position in ASWU.

Almaw said the international student representative position is a way to advocate for those students and include them. International students are considered a minority and need to be better represented, she said. For this to become possible, ASWU needs to immerse itself in the community of international students, she said. It’s important for ASWU to be intentional about what it is doing and to include and join those students, she said.

Smit thinks international students and students that don’t fit the typical Whitworth “vibe” are underrepresented, he said. If elected, he plans to have personal conversations with students who do not feel like they fit in and work with them to allow them to feel more connected and accepted across campus to the best of his ability, he said.

The general elections will take place Thursday, April 12 and Friday, April 13. The results will be announced over the weekend.

Beeksma Theology Center breaks ground

Ezekiel Pagaduan| Staff Writer

Whitworth University officially announced a $ 1.5 million chapel expansion last Oct. 25, 2017. The remodeled Seeley Mudd Chapel will become a new home for the theology department, office of church engagement and campus ministries. The money for the expansion was donated by Barney and Joyce Beeksma, and it will be named The Beeksma Family Theology Center.

The new facility will provide a bigger worship space and new offices for the theology department. “The university has been planning to do this renovation,” said Forrest Buckner, dean of spiritual life and campus pastor.

There are going to be three major elements. The first is the addition of offices for the theology department and office of church engagement, next is renovation and update of existing chapel. The goal is to have a new wing for students and faculty to use for meetings, Buckner said. This will also help to clearly distinguish between campus ministry and the academic department of theology. The new renovation will also provide more workable space for the office of church and engagement

Buckner said, the university has been planning for a chapel renovation for several years.      

“It’s going to be great for the experience of students who will take theology classes and who are involved in theology, as well as the church engagement. The new offices of church engagement will help Whitworth connect with the broader church community around the world and this has been beneficial to many students,” Buckner said.

This new addition will help the chapel be accessible to a lot more people, Buckner said.

Illustration courtesy of Forrest Buckner

Illustration courtesy of Forrest Buckner

“The purpose of building and renovating the place is to make a more warm and welcoming space for students, ministry staff, and people that will visit Whitworth,” Buckner said.

The extension to the chapel will be in front of Ballard and McMillan hall.

“I am happy for the theology department that they will get to have more space. However, I am a chagrined that construction is going on during the pre-frosh visiting that is happening because normally when they are visiting they see the natural beauty of  BMac, ... and the Ballard boardwalk will also be blocked for the moment,” junior Ballard resident. Chloe Taton said.

Barney Beeksma is a Whitworth alum and three of his grandchildren currently attend Whitworth.

“To my knowledge, my grandfather Barney Beeksma wanted to donate money toward the theology department because he wanted to see more of Jesus in our campus and he made the donation last year and now the construction has started,” senior Stuart Beeksma is resident assistant in Macmillan Hall, said.

“I have heard from a couple of people from the BMac community some complaints that because they love to frolf that this might interrupt their frolfing, but it is a worthwhile disruption other than the view disruption,” he said.

 The renovation project will continue through the summer and will finish fall of 2018 before classes start.