As students enter the Weter Student Lounge, they can catch a glimpse of the phrase “Remembrance and Witness: A Seattle Pacific Diversity Timeline” boldly printed on the center wall. It references an intricate web of history, leading its viewers through the journey of diversity and transformation at Seattle Pacific University.
Proposed and achieved by Seattle Pacific University’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ODEI), the wall-mounted timeline highlights key historical events that shaped SPU’s diversity and reconciliation efforts for the faculty, staff and students within the community. Wrapping around the entire wall, individuals at the university receive a visual representation of the force and power of history, time and the connections global issues have with local ones.
Beginning with the year 1853 and continuing to the year 2018, the intricate layout pinpoints nationally and globally transformative events, laws, decisions and movements that circulated down into small, local communities and influenced the methodologies and
practices at work within those institutions. As a result, drastic changes for the betterment of the whole emerged and continued to mold what is present day SPU.
Students are an important part of the growing web of complexity. The ways in which they adapted to worldly events on campus helped with the movement towards growth and inclusion.
Their decisions impacted the future and it is a cycle evident in the diversity timeline for SPU. For a better visual understanding, the timeline is split into nine thematic sections with captions and dated photos relating to major historical events. Each section focuses on particular geopolitical occurrences within that time period and how they carried out onto national and local levels, including SPU.
On display are news articles with revolutionary headlines, notes of the U.S. government passing the Americans with Disabilities Act, student experiences after President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered Japanese-American internment camps in the states, as well as images of students protesting on SPU grounds against the South African apartheid regime.
Each of those events, and many more, receive attention for their effects on the global stage as well as in the college community. However, it also directs attention to SPU’s transformation as they accompanied the world through its own. One way SPU transformed was through their academic courses.
Majors such as women’s studies, social justice and cultural studies reflect SPU’s engagement in the constantly changing world. The timeline offers a visual of their efforts to mirror what surrounds them in order to provide to the students the outright opportunity.
Despite the leaps taken by SPU to adjust alongside society, Sandra Mayo, vice president of the office of diversity, equity, and inclusion, admits that “it’s crazy to see how issues we’ve been dealing with in the past still appear to be impacting our lives today.”
As the timeline shows, efforts of equality and inclusion of marginalized groups of people are constantly at work. As Mayo best describes it, it is not a cycle that stops and ends, stops and ends — its forever changing, forever impacting, forever transforming individuals and the community they live in.
The diversity timeline is a message of gratitude. It acknowledges those who have contributed their time and undying efforts working for diversity at Seattle Pacific
University and building a reconciled community for the present and future.
As best said by wall of remembrance and witness, “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”