Support Listening Process

After years of conversation around campus, EMU has decided to have a conversation about its hiring policy at an official level. This decision has generated a lot of scrutiny from both inside and outside of the EMU community. Articles about our university have appeared in a lot of places, from “The Christian News Network,” to “Inside Higher Ed.” This media attention has already caused lots of conversation online, most of it incredibly stupid. Users on the “Christian News Network” opined that we should simply remove all “bad apples” from the school so that we can “do God’s will.” Followers of “Inside Higher Ed” shot back by loosely comparing EMU’s former—and I guess current—policy with Nazism.

Obviously this is not the kind of discussion period that EMU is envisioning as it examines its hiring practices, but it does serve as a useful warning. Even though we are entering this period of conversation with the best of intentions this does not mean that it will have the best of results. The danger with listening processes is that they can become preaching processes, or arguing processes. If this happens it will mean that those who feel marginalized will continue to feel marginalized no matter what decision is made.

Part of being in a community is accepting that there are differences of opinions. We cannot choose to act on every opinion, but we do have an obligation to hear them respectfully because no matter what the end result of the listening process is, there will be those who believe that EMU has betrayed them in some way. Those who feel alienated by the decision that will be made will only feel more alienated if they feel that their voice was not heard.

As the first Mennonite school to engage this issue, EMU will receive a lot of attention. It will be important for those who are participating in the listening process to focus not on the out- side conversations, but on the conversation within EMU. We allow ourselves to worry about how those outside of our community feel about this process; we must instead focus on choosing to do what is right for members of the EMU community.

This will mean listening to different opinions, but more importantly, it will mean seeing the faces behind those opinions and realizing that any decision will have an effect on the people that we interact with everyday.

I want to urge everybody involved in the listening process, whether it is faculty, staff, students, or administrators, to support a full listening process that includes space for all parts of the EMU community that will allow us to move forward without leaving others behind.

-David Yoder, Co-Editor in Chief

Categories: Opinion


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