As ACU grows, it is beginning to evolve into a more diverse and inclusive community. With that being said, ACU students and professors need to prepare more than ever for students who come from different backgrounds.
Years ago, the typical ACU student came from a white upper-middle class Christian household. This is becoming less of the case. As ACU grows in student body and in name, people from varying backgrounds come to ACU for the quality education and the small Div. I atmosphere.
Many students now are not Christians, don’t come from upper-middle class households and come from various ethnicities or even nationalities. Professors are unaccustomed to students who have to work full-time jobs in addition to their classes and students who don’t already have a robust Church of Christ background, and that negatively impacts the spirit of those students.
Professors often require expensive equipment for classes that could be rented out by the school for use in classes and frequently require students to attend afternoon events that could get in the way of their work schedule. While course materials and attending classes are the student’s responsibility, professors should be lenient on things that are beyond the scope of a normal class.
Requiring students to purchase expensive course materials beyond textbooks without much advance notice puts students from lower income households at risk for financial instability. These course materials often times could either be provided by the school for use during class or for rent, or the professor could inform students about the requirements before the students sign up for classes.
Instead of only giving extra credit opportunities or even required class assignments in the afternoons and outside of class times, professors should provide an equal opportunity for credit for those who are unable to attend.
ACU is a Christian university, and it should never stray from those values. However, if the university hopes to grow it will acquire a variety of students from different backgrounds and the community should be respectful of that.
Of the six Div. I Christian universities in Texas, ACU has the tightest requirements on religious activities. The other universities still educate on religion and maintain a Christ-centered community, but their larger size and increased diversity led to decreased requirements on religious activity. By loosening requirements, they were able to be more accepting to diverse students.
Texas Christian University, the largest Christian university in Texas, requires only one religious course and has no chapel requirements. The religious course discusses various religions and provides a space for those from various worldviews to develop their own opinions on religion.
While ACU’s emphasis on Christian community is more prominent and wouldn’t bend to those extremes, I don’t think it is unreasonable to reduce the requirements or encourage groups on campus for other religions to form. I’ve heard from those from different religions or denominations that they feel coerced into the Church of Christ faith or uncomfortable expressing their beliefs from their respective denominations in class, and if ACU aims to grow beyond its traditional numbers and bounds, it needs to be more accepting of diversity.
Overall, ACU’s community has a long way to go towards accepting diversity on campus socioeconomically and religiously. If professors, administration and students work together to be more accepting of everyone who comes to campus and shows the love of Christ through inclusion and acceptance, we will become a more diverse and Christ-like community.