In the past few months, it has been easy to look at the history-making events dominating the headlines and see a divided country. Students and faculty at Northwestern have taken the initiative to confront some of the country’s most pressing issues head on in hopes to educate a larger portion of the student body on social justice issues.
There are multiple new groups and opportunities in the coming weeks on campus designed to help students learn about two different topics, white privilege and immigration.
Senior Sarah Gelberg has been prayerfully considering creating the Privilege Life Group for quite some time. About a year ago, she felt the Lord challenging her to lead a reform group.
A few short months later, the murder of George Floyd flooded the headlines. After this, she felt called to address the issue of white privilege with her peers on campus. Her goal is to discuss how she has seen privilege show up in her own life and encourage others to do see privilege, too.
Fifteen students have already committed to being a part of this journey. Members will be reading is White Awake: an honest look at what it means to be white written by pastor Daniel Hill. Gelberg remains hopeful despite concern that her group may not be well received by all.
“There will always be pushback and controversy when fighting for something important,” Gelberg said.
Gelberg looks forward to growing alongside members and creating a space for students to be vulnerable about their experiences. Privilege can seem like a complex and intimidating issue, but this life group aims to provide clarity in how followers of Christ should respond.
“I truly hope members of NW will join, ready to dive deep and be vulnerable with one another” Gelberg said.
Another opportunity started on Thursday, Jan. 28 in Ramaker, Across Barriers, a book club. This group aims to bridge the divide between people who may not always see through the same lens, specifically regarding immigration. They plan to do this through reading and discussing the text.
Hispanic Community Liaison Martha Draayer is the driving force behind this group. She spends her working time fostering a more inclusive campus community. The need for this group arrived after Draayer spoke at chapel back in October about immigration from a biblical perspective. Afterward, many students approached her and expressed a desire to learn more about this topic.
She noticed the need for a space for students to have fruitful discussions about immigration and hopes to use this new group to fill that need. There are many immigrants who call NW home, and Draayer feels creating an open conversation has the potential to positively shift how people view immigration.
“This is not a political issue, but a church issue,” Draayer said. “You don’t often hear about Jesus being an immigrant.”
The God Who Sees: Immigrants, the Bible, and the Journey to Belong by Karen Gonzalez is the guiding text for this group. Gonzalez is an immigrant herself and explains her journey from an unstable life in Guatemala to America by comparing various prominent biblical figures. Hagar, Joseph, Ruth and Jesus are all parallels drawn by Gonzalaz to demonstrate the biblical relevance of immigration.
These new opportunities on campus are a great way to address some of the issues that traditionally cause division and approach them from a biblical perspective.