Manchester University
Oak Leaves

February 16, 2018


In his annual Spring Convocation, President McFadden addressed the upcoming events dedicated to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., as well as the concept of persistence and racial conflicts in the community.

Photo by Caraline Feairheller

President McFadden Comments on 'Persistence' and Racism

Avis McGovern

President Dave McFadden held a VIA Spring Convocation in the Cordier Auditorium Tuesday, Feb. 6 at 3:30 p.m, on the topic of "persistence" and bridging the racial divide.

The convocation opened with Dr. Heather Schilling, chair and director of Teacher Education, who spoke of "hot" issues on campus dealing with race.

“I think bringing up an issue such as race was admirable,” said Andrew Fox, sophomore. “From what was said, the topic of race relations needed to be addressed. There is not a place for racism on this campus. One should treat his or her classmate with respect. The university should hold monthly discussions regarding race and other controversial topics.”

McFadden spoke of persistance, race and moving forward. He started his speech by reading aloud an email sent to him from a current student about academic standing. The email told of a MU student whose grades were not improving upon finishing the January Session. He quoted legendary football coach Vince Lombardi by saying, “It’s not whether you get knocked down; it’s if you get back up.”

Charlie Labaj, first-year, was pleased to hear McFadden speak of persistence. “There have been many times where I have been unsatisfied with a letter grade and I have persevered through it to achieve my academic goal," he said. "Knowing that President Dave was willing to act as a mentor for that student and push him to keep trying reassures me that MU will help me succeed.”

McFadden also mentioned the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech at Manchester. He used quotes from MLK’s notable speech at Spelman College and called to students to do their part on campus by being persistent with change to better the experience for all of those on campus.   “I enjoyed the follow-up on the remembrance and rededication ceremony of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, in honoring his legacy and what he stood for,” said Zakaria Bulus, a first-year international student. “The president addressed the issue of race and the need to move together as individuals and collectively on campus. After attending the convocation, I feel confident about myself and Manchester, in pursuing my dreams and academic goals in moving forward.”

McFadden also acknowledged the race issues happening on and off campus. He told of an unfortunate encounter at the Casey’s General Store where an international student had been confronted by a person of the community and was called out by a racial slur. He went on to discuss the importance of eliminating race issues on campus and suggested that students go to Link Gallery to read more about the history of Manchester University that deals with race issues.

“Personally, it has been difficult for me to adjust to life North Manchester, because I was brought up in a very diverse community,” said Ava McVey, first-year. “However, President McFadden's remarks emphasized the reasons I am here at Manchester. I hear intolerant remarks disturbingly frequently, but just knowing that other people are acknowledging that this happens, and that it is a problem we are working to solve is encouraging. Striving towards unraveling these intolerances on our campus is crucial to the happiness and safety of the students here.”

McFadden also related the current race issues to when Joseph and Maddie Cunningham, Manchester's first African American students, came to campus. In an interview, Joseph and Maddie explained that they felt “unwelcomed and uncomfortable” on campus. This changed when Otho Winger arranged a support group and ate with them in the dining hall.

One remarkable moment Joseph Cunningham had was photographed and displayed in the Link Gallery:  Joseph, who played on the basketball team, is seen with a white teammate's hand on his shoulder. At that time, this was a very rare sighting.

Cameron Kimmel, sophomore, felt that McFadden spoke of a “strong sense of community and work towards changing the way we look at stereotypes of certain people on campus at MU.”

McFadden concluded that he is scheduled to have a meeting with Michael Dixon, chief diversity officer; Judd Case, and Heather Schilling to discuss how to deal with and eliminate race issues throughout the community after hearing that a MU student was called a “racist” at a house party off campus.