Columbia Theological Seminary Commits to Repair the Breach Caused by White Supremacy
Deepening Columbia’s Commitment to Black People and Their Flourishing
June 30, 2020 — Throughout the 2019 academic year, Columbia has wrestled with its history and participation in the enslavement and oppression of Black people. On Monday, June 15, 2020, the Board of Trustees met via Zoom to continue wrestling with Columbia’s history and future. The board meeting occurred in the midst of a national outcry for justice on behalf of the killings of Ahmaud Arbury, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Rayshard Brooks. Within this context, the Board of Trustees voted to unanimously affirm a commitment statement titled, “Repairing the Breach: Deepening Columbia’s Commitment to Black People and their Flourishing.”
The commitment statement explicitly outlines steps Columbia is implementing to begin directly addressing the harm that slavery and its aftermath have done to Black people and communities. New commitments include:
- Full tuition and fees for all Black students who apply and are admitted to masters-level degree programs;
- Naming Columbia’s signature residence hall Marcia Y. Riggs Hall (Riggs Commons) in public recognition of her ground-breaking research, teaching, and dedication to this seminary that has often failed to fully appreciate and celebrate her contributions and the those of other Black scholars;
- Implementation of new policies to develop external partnerships with and support for others who are actively working to combat police brutality and anti-Black racism.
Columbia’s board, leadership, faculty, staff, and student body have collectively acknowledged that these new commitments represent one step toward dismantling systems of oppression. Therefore, the Board also reaffirmed a commitment to long-term processes that work to disrupt global cycles of oppression and create new realities at Columbia and beyond. Reflecting on this new commitment, Columbia President Van Dyk stated, “Columbia is more diverse than it has ever been. We work together and challenge one another to put our faith into action. Now is a time for us to move beyond conversations and toward concrete actions that decenter whiteness, center Black and brown people, and transform the structure of this seminary. We are committed to the long journey – and, we are committed to doing this tough work together.”
The full text of “Repairing the Breach,” as well as additional information about other Columbia commitments to equity, diversity, and inclusion, can be found at https://www.ctsnet.edu/home/repairing-the-breach/.
About Columbia Theological Seminary
Columbia Theological Seminary’s exists to cultivate faithful leaders for God’s changing world. As the most diverse educational institution of the Presbyterian Church (USA), Columbia Seminary is a community of theological inquiry, leadership development, and formation for ministry in the service of the Church and the world. Columbia offers six masters and doctoral degree programs, and opportunities for continuing education through The Center for Lifelong Learning. In the fall of 2019, Columbia committed to the Transforming Community Conferencing (TCC) process with Dr. David Hooker. This process is designed to unearth Columbia’s deep narratives and invite the community to adopt and live into a new preferred narrative. More information about the TCC process is forthcoming. For more information, please visit our website: ctsnet.edu.
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