As Chance the Rapper says, “And we back… this ain’t no intro, this the entree!” And Chance is (usually) right; we’re back & hitting the ground running as a campus. We have a newly-renovated World Famous Bean. Construction all around campus. And new freshmen! Let’s chat about the meat of what life is like here.
ACU is a place where community is present everywhere. The ACU promise itself even says: “ACU is a vibrant, innovative, Christ-centered community that engages students in authentic spiritual and intellectual growth, equipping them to make a real difference in the world.” And this has mostly proven true, at least for me. I’ve been privileged to engage in many ACU communities that have changed my faith and me for the better, and I’ll be forever grateful. But that does not mean we can accept stagnation in our community and shy away from growth.
While ACU claims to be an innovative, Christ-centered community, many struggle to find community here. I know many students who have felt isolated, lonely and/or shamed during their time at ACU. We all do at one time or another. If there’s one thing you take away from this column, it’s that we have to find ways to marginalize less and love more. I’m firmly convinced that there are so many ways we as faculty, staff and students can embody ACU’s promise better than we do right now.
Sometimes, it feels like everyone here fits in the same box, besides you, right? We all have our struggles. Personally, I have depression and anxiety, and I have felt marginalized at ACU. People don’t talk about mental health awareness on campus enough, even though on most American college campuses, about 25% of students are taking medication for their mental health.
Another huge part of our community has been marginalized by race relations or LGBTQ+ policies on this campus. We need to have conversations about all of these topics in classrooms, in the Bean and in our daily lives. These conversations shouldn’t be avoided or talked about behind closed doors. We need to do more than just improve our food options in the Campus Center and bring scooters to campus, as fun as they are.
Real change starts with conversations including all types of students, faculty and staff. ACU’s Title IX office just hosted the first ever Sexual Assault Awareness & Prevention month in April of 2018, and this was a positive step in the right direction for real change at our university.
Don’t get me wrong; ACU is an incredible place. The sunsets are spectacular. Praise Fridays are a tradition like no other. I have fallen in love with parts of ACU that I will hold dear to my heart, as I’m sure many of you have. But I’m ready to keep bettering our community and not put band-aids on the real issues facing us.
So let’s give this semester “all we got” and make real differences out there: on campus, in Abilene and in this world.