By Micah McIntyre
At the first faculty business meeting following the controversial posting of a meme about the chapel led by Unidad on Sept. 16, the Wheaton College faculty unanimously voted to pass a resolution in support of Unidad and Latinx students on campus.
The faculty diversity committee, led by chair and Blanchard Professor of Old Testament M. Daniel Carroll R. Rodas, worked with faculty to write the draft. Four of the members of the committee come from a Latino background and were able to represent that community through the drafting process.
Carroll explained that the faculty resolution is not an official statement by the institution but reflects the faculty’s desire to address the meme biblically as Christians.
“The faculty care about these things,” Carroll said. “When something like this happens, it can be reduced to [calling it] hurtful language, but my feeling is that’s not good enough at Wheaton — this is a Christian conversation.”
The resolution states, “We, the faculty of Wheaton College, publicly condemn this meme as unacceptable sin. We walk in solidarity with Unidad and all our students, faculty and staff, strongly affirming the diversity of race, ethnicity, language, ability and culture as good gifts that enrich our community. We thank Unidad for bringing this rich contribution to all of us in chapel.”
On Oct. 18 the President’s office released a statement that announced they had identified the student who posted the meme. The administration declined to comment on the context of the student’s identification and the conversations that followed, citing legal reasons pertaining to student privacy protection. However, Vice President of Student Development Paul Chelsen shared that the school has grown in its understanding of how to respond to situations similar to this one.
“This process in many ways reinforced many lessons learned from past situations,” Chelsen said in an email interview with the Record. “[We understand] the importance of meeting as soon as possible with campus members directly involved and affected to understand their needs in addition to gathering key campus leaders together as soon as possible to coordinate the follow-up responses.”
Carroll said that although the chapel meme has been difficult to process for many students, he hopes that the faculty resolution and other responses will further conversations about the issue of racism on campus.