Coming to a Christian school, students are aware that religion is sewn into the fabric of Whitworth. Students are not tricked into believing that faith is not an integral part of the university. This editorial board believes that this approach by Whitworth should be appreciated and embraced by the student body.
Whitworth has Christian values and mission, but it does not strive to impose these elements on its students. Opportunities abound for students to explore and implement their Christian values, but these opportunities are not forced upon students. The university itself acknowledges its Presbyterian background while making a conscious effort to be as accepting as possible. It is impossible to attend this school and not expect to be exposed to any elements of the Christian faith.
Modern culture seems to value inclusiveness, but there comes a point where that inclusiveness precludes any attempt to converse frankly on difficult subjects. It would be easy for Whitworth to lose its rich and religious background in an attempt to conform to the values of today. Instead, the school does a good job of allowing students of different backgrounds and beliefs to have a say in what happens at Whitworth without losing religious traditions.
For a university founded on Christian doctrine, Whitworth is comparatively liberal. At Azusa Pacific University, students are required to attend chapel three times a week. Here, chapel is not required, but half an hour has been blocked out twice a week for students to gather if they so desire. It’s an open invitation without the pressure.
From others’ experiences, Christian universities refrain from having discussions surrounding taboo topics. Whitworth, on the other hand, embraces these discussions.
The campus comes together to shed light on topics including homosexuality and racism. The ‘Hear from an Atheist’ event has also become tradition. The fact that the university sponsors a discussion surrounding atheism is a testament to the idea that Whitworth is not imposing in nature. Not only is it accepted to be of a different faith, a space is created to hear what one believes and why one believes it.
The school also offers a wide-range of classes that are based off the perspectives of others and Whitworth allows students to engage in academic work by authors of various backgrounds and faiths. A fair portion of the Core program provides students with ideas that are non-Christian and opens their eyes to many views.
Whitworth also encourages study abroad experiences, allowing students to dive into a completely different culture. For many of these trips, students experience cultures that are not dominantly Christian or Western in their ideology. This allows students an opportunity to understand different perspectives and to bring that new understanding back to Whitworth when they return.
However, there is only so much that professors and administration can do to promote an open atmosphere. At some point, it becomes the students’ responsibility to embrace the different perspectives and backgrounds of others.
College is a time to explore and discover, and part of that is beginning to own your personal beliefs. When we pass up the opportunity to openly discuss things with people who may have different views, we make it easier to hold the views we already have, but we also reject an opportunity to hone our beliefs and come to new, deeper understandings.
Whitworth gives us an incredible opportunity for openness, but many viewpoints will never make it to the surface if students do not show a willingness to listen respectfully to differing opinions. Students must embrace Whitworth’s approach to Christian values and be grateful for an environment that fosters growth in spirituality.
Whitworthian Editoral Board Contact the editorial board at firstname.lastname@example.org