The youth are demanding change through T-shirts and peaceful demonstration. Three months into the listening process, students are organizing in response to the hiring policy. “Hire like no other; support change” is the slogan emblazoned on the first 50 of hundreds of shirts designed by Sophomore Rachel Schrock.
Junior Matt Hershey and Sophomore Madeline Miller assisted in organizing donors, printing, and other logistics. As of Tuesday, Hershey had raised $1,200 for printing costs by calling students, organizations, friends, family, and even out-of-state church connections.
Miller was inspired to take action after visiting Goshen College for spring break. “It opened my eyes to how dead our student body can be . . . I was done believing and not doing anything.”
Hershey, who also visited Goshen, agreed. “[The trip] brought awareness of how active as students we can be.” He asserted that students will be the most powerful voice in and have many resources to contribute to the listening process outcome.
Students who get t-shirts will receive emails on days to coordinate wearing them, to “be a visual on campus.”
“I’ve always said that I can’t stand apathy,” said Schrock, who saw the t-shirt project as a way to combat her own apathy. Schrock has been excited to see so many students get involved with listening process initiatives recently. Hershey anticipates far-reaching consequences from this involvement.
“The decision made at EMU isn’t going to stay at EMU,” but will affect the whole Mennonite Church by showing what its youth wants.
Hershey, Miller, and Schrock are all members of the Mennonite Church.
Extra money from donations will be donated to student organizations to host events as “a peaceful way to show students’ voices,” such as the candle-light vigil set for Monday, Mar. 24 at 9 p.m.
Sophomore Rachel Bowman has been busy gathering hymnals, candles, speakers, poets, and media attention. Senior Krista Nyce and Sophomore Hannah Mack-Boll have also prepared for the vigil, assisted by Seniors Peter French and Seth Stauffer, and Sophomore Bethany Chupp.
Bowman explained why the listening process is significant to her. “What we are talking about here is human rights, it’s about discrimination, and about our opportunity in the Mennonite education realm to be a leader in practicing radical inclusion. Our current hiring policy robs us [of] the opportunity of learning from highly skilled, intelligent, and creative faculty by systematically eliminating such individuals if they are lesbian or gay and choose to be in a relationship.”
The vigil is meant to encourage student engagement and, much like the t-shirt project, provide a visual presence on campus representative of participants’ opinion.
Bowman summed up the feelings of many students with the statement, “it’s far past time for inclusion on this campus, and we want to be on the open, loving, inclusive side of this his- toric time in our school’s history.”
-Randi B. Hagi, Co-Editor In Chief
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