Dear Vanguard Community,
Last week I wrote to the community in response to the tragic killing of George Floyd. I shared our commitment as a Christ-centered institution to address any form of racism and racial injustice in and beyond Vanguard University. As I have heard from members of our community since my last message, I am grieved by the stories of pain stemming from prejudice and discrimination experienced during their time on our campus. We cannot tolerate this sin among us.
Let me be clear, as a University rooted in the Lordship of Jesus Christ and affirming the dignity of all persons, I state unequivocally that Vanguard University denounces the evil of racism made manifest in any form; whether individual racism, systemic racism or institutional racism. I lament with our Black brothers and sisters that we continue to see the ugly and painful reality of racism and injustice toward the Black community in our nation. Further, I stand against any form of hatred and the loss of innocent life. We stand against brutality against persons formed in the image of God; including police brutality.
We ask for forgiveness from our Black students, faculty, and staff – both current and former – for when our actions have not matched our words. We seek that same forgiveness from all people of color in our community for the times we have fallen short of our values and ideals. Simply put, I have heard from you that we can do better; and we will. We must. We must speak prophetically and work tirelessly against racism on our campus and in our nation. Further, we must consider our work incomplete until the biblical ideal of racial reconciliation that is at the heart of our Pentecostal heritage in Azusa Street is the lived experience of every person at Vanguard.
I know you want action. So do I. Words and grief are not enough; faith without works is dead (James 2:20). I want Vanguard University to live up to our Christian claims of inclusion and community in word and deed. Therefore, in the coming week I will provide the community with action steps we are taking to ensure that our Black students and every student of color feel seen, welcomed, and celebrated. I am engaging Black voices, leaders on campus, and alumni in this process, and because we must get this right, we are taking the appropriate time to look internally to develop a plan for short and long-term change.
I know Vanguard University can and will move forward so that we experience reconciliation and equity in every classroom, dorm room, office, and gathering space on our campus.
We remain more committed than ever to our shared pursuit of a Christ-centered learning environment that is free of racism and prejudice – where our Black community members know their story and their lives matter to me and to us.
Grace and peace,
Dr. Mike Beals