The following letter was sent on February 12, 2018 from student groups Dismantling Racism: Beloved Community and ReCharge at Luther Seminary in response to the listening sessions held by President Steinke and the student council. It was read by Student Council President Tom Gehring at the first listening session as an explanation for why many students (particularly students of non-white color) were not present.
A majority of the minoritized/marginalized students will not be attending this meeting. It was brought to our attention that President Steinke might interpret our absence as if we do not care. To that we would like to respond by saying: We have been creating safe spaces, table conversations and talking circles for the last 2 years addressing the problems that we all have been experiencing. During these 2 years President Steinke nor any of her representatives have attended any of our meetings. The staff/faculty members that have showed up are the same staff/faculty members that are still showing up and helping to create the space and conversation along side us.
During these two years we have come to the conclusion that President Steinke does not care about our experience in this institution. Within the last year racism has elevated to an all-time high, the passive-aggressive racism within the faculty, staff & students have become way too familiar. From our perspective, their injustices go unanswered and unpunished while any black/African American staff that gets hired lasts less than 6 months because of their failure to “do their job”. Talking has been the theme since we began attending in this institution. It has been occurring for decades before we got here. We talk & talk until we graduate and move on and nothing really gets fixed. We decided not to attend this meeting because we are tired of listening to empty promises, words without meaning and with no intent of action.
We do not want to talk if it will not be followed by action. We do not want to hear you say or promise change, we want you to show it & prove it; We are visual learners. In the meantime, we will continue to pray for God’s presence in this institution; That the spirit’s grace turns hateful hearts into loving ones, and that our creator provides courage to the ones in positions to make Luther Seminary a proper representation of Christ’s love knowing that our redeemer forgives those who trespasses against us. We will pray for God to give us the strength to persevere as the oppressed, as the chosen ones and as children of God. May Justice prevail.
ReCharge & DR:BC