Luther College Chips

In response to the recent hate incident

Anna Phearman (‘19)

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I used to be proud. I used to be proud to be a Luther student. I used to be proud to call myself a part of such an inclusive community.

I remember how, on my campus tour, every person that passed me gave me a smile. I mistook these smiles as evidence of a completely welcoming and inclusive community. When I first arrived, I was amazed at how accepting my classmates were. They took me for who I was and told me that I was full; I was enough.

Now I am ashamed. I still love Luther, but I am ashamed to be a member of a community that markets itself as diverse and inclusive yet refuses to address underlying issues.

I am ashamed that in a community as “accepting” as Luther, there is such ignorance. I am ashamed such underlying hatred and discrimination exists. I am ashamed of how apathetic most of campus is. But most of all, I am ashamed because since I bought into the idea that Luther is perfect and inclusive, I was part of the problem.

Since these issues didn’t personally touch me, I occasionally saw examples on campus of hatred or racism and, like many others, dismissed them as “the exception.” They didn’t fit with the Luther community that accepted me so freely, so how could they be true? I didn’t recognize that this mirage of inclusion and acceptance only reaches so far.

Furthermore, inclusion only covers select groups within the community. To be exact, it only stretches to the end of our comfort zones. When things get unfamiliar or uncomfortable, we scurry back into our safe notions of Luther’s token diversity and acceptance.

I know this because I myself have done it time and time again. We shy away from the discomfort of discussing and confronting racism, homophobia, antisemitism, and so many of the other issues that touch our campus, simply because they are uncomfortable to talk about.

It doesn’t fit with the idealized notion of Luther we hold in our minds. It doesn’t fit into our comfortable lives. This is where we become part of the problem.

The time is long overdue for us to step up. We need to do better — for ourselves, for those who have come before us, for future Luther students, and most of all, for our classmates whose lives have been shaken due to hateful and bigoted symbols proudly displayed in a place that should be safe.

I hope that I can once again be proud to call myself a member of the Luther community. But for now, I remain ashamed.

Signed,

Anna Phearman (‘19)

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