A letter from Student Senate

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A letter from Student Senate

Photo courtesy of Student Senate

Photo courtesy of Student Senate

Photo courtesy of Student Senate

Photo courtesy of Student Senate

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We, as Student Senate, the representatives of the Calvin College student body, call for appropriate policy changes as it relates to how faculty are evaluated in their dedication to the Reformed mission at Calvin.

Of three total faculty requirements, we have identified two that need to be addressed: Calvin expects faculty members to participate in local Reformed churches and send their children to Christian schools. We do not believe that these requirements are the only way to evaluate faculty members’ commitment to the Reformed worldview. We also understand that college decision makers have been discussing differing approaches to these obligations, and we urge them to consider student perspectives as they do so.

The identity of Calvin as a Reformed institution is integral to its mission to equip students to think deeply, act justly and live wholeheartedly as Christ’s agents of renewal in the world. This purpose creates a unique approach to education at Calvin: as God is sovereign over all things, He is also sovereign over education. Thus, we are called to work as Christ’s agents of renewal and conduct intellectual exploration to know God and seek restoration of His world. This fulfillment of the Reformed mission is within a different sphere of kingdom service than the Christian Reformed Church itself. Calvin serves as a ministry of the CRC — just one branch of the diverse set of believers that are united under Christ as His living church. Calvin’s academic freedom, powerful mission and unique role within the Reformed faith facilitate the engagement, examination, and the challenge or affirmation of alternative ideas.

This healthy exchange of ideas and fulfillment of Calvin’s mission statement is derived from its faculty — specifically, a diverse set of faculty. Having professors with a variety of Christian backgrounds creates a strong exchange of Christian thought. Similarly, having professors that come from a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds enriches the academic exchange of the institution. Calvin is committed to both interacting with other Christians and having cultural and ethnic diversity. However, the current faculty requirements outline a narrow range of backgrounds for its faculty, which restricts the diversity of thought that Calvin needs and desires.

We do not believe that Calvin should shy away from its Reformed identity. Rather, Calvin should continue its Reformed mission of engagement with other embodiments of Christ’s church and people. In doing so, Calvin must retain its commitments to its Expanded Mission Statement and other doctrinal creeds. However, this cannot be accomplished with the current faculty requirements, which inhibit the creation of healthy dialogue within the Reformed project. Furthermore, these requirements limit the diversity of thought and background that students desire.

It is not the purpose of this letter to prescribe Calvin with a conclusive narrative as to how to cultivate a diverse set of faculty. If one is to receive a singular take-away from this letter, it should be this: students, and Student Senate, desire to be a part of the conversation on faculty requirements — specifically, in how to reach a broader talent pool and create stronger academia.

Sincerely,

Calvin College Student Senate