Funding needed for diversity programs

by Ike Emeche

From the outside it seems that Whitworth isn’t putting money on resources concerning diversity. Diversity is something Whitworth has put a bigger priority on in recent years In this increasingly diverse world, for businesses to survive, they must bring in non-white students into the fold, America’s increasing brownness reflects that.

Whitworth is a private Christian institution, which means that it relies on private contributions. Here at Whitworth we know them as donors. Donors give money for projects that they want the university to do. It’s how Whitworth receives money for new buildings, scholarships, etc.

The money donors put towards Whitworth recently is given to the music department, athletics department and chapel remodel.The Harriet Cheney Cowles Foundation pledged $2 million and Walt and Kay Oliver pledged a gift of $3.75 million to support completion of the new music building. For the athletics department, we have seen the $1 million-dollar turf project, the new Pine Bowl press box and centralized athletics building. Together, these projects will add up to about $13 million. Walter Oliver and his wife Kay donated $3.1 million to the athletic department to help fund these proposed plans.

Most of the money that donors are giving Whitworth is spent on athletics. If Whitworth University truly stands for diversity, equity and inclusion, why isn’t the money being put toward these things? In Core 250, students learn if you follow the money, you know where one’s priority lies. For example, in all the examples stated above there is nothing that could help foster diversity, equity, and inclusion, like updating Hendrick Hall.

Sarah Dixit, Senior Class Coordinator said “Whitworth is not ‘putting money where their mouth is’ so to speak. As a student of color on this campus, I find it extremely frustrating that Whitworth espouses these desires for increased diversity, and yet they haven’t made any effort into financially supporting this claim,” Senior Class Coordinator Sarah Dixit said. Dixit says that Whitworth could easily make a case for the importance of creating an actual building for Hendrick Hall or replacing the Village with a better living facility. Instead it chooses to focus on other areas, like athletics.

Dixit said “The fact that the departments/people who focus on diversity are housed in a portable home is telling as to what/who Whitworth really cares about,” I agree with this statement, because it gives insight into what donors’ care about. According to the Spokesman Review, ‘The push for a turf field was spawned last fall and the wheels were swiftly put in motion, Whitworth campus construction project manager Fred Johnston said.’

Why can’t the wheels be swiftly put in motion to update buildings like Hendrick Hall or other places that can help our ever-growing diverse student body? Some students don’t even know that Hendrick Hall houses the International Student Center.. It’s clear that the athletics department and music buildings were in need of an update, and upgrades like those help with recruitment and make our campus look better. However,more of a priority should be put towards renovating buildings like Hendrick Hall and spending money to help our diverse student body. In fact, if a donor wants to give money to Whitworth to use for a certain purpose, then they should be able to do so. Universities are businesses, and it wouldn’t be smart to turn away money from someone that an outside source that has been connected to Whitworth for years wants.

“Although some may claim that the issue is with the donors and not with Whitworth because the donors are giving to specific departments (i.e. athletics, chapel, etc.), they aren’t giving Whitworth enough credit,” Dixit said. Whitworth has been adhering to a Whitworth 2021 Vision and Strategic Plan that was put in place by President Beck Taylor during his first year as president in 2010. Matters related to diversity are stated under Goal 4: Diverse World. According to whitworth’s 2021 plan: “Whitworth values the role a welcoming and diverse community plays in fulfilling the university’s mission to “honor God, follow Christ and serve humanity.”

“Grounded in a biblical understanding of God’s character, the university will cultivate in students, faculty, staff and trustees the capacity to relate effectively across multiple dimensions of human diversity in learning, working and living environments. During the next decade, Whitworth will focus on issues of intercultural competency and equity related to gender, race and ethnicity,” the 2021 plan states. Reading over it, I saw nothing that states money is needed to support this. The 2021 plan is something that Whitworth should share with its donors, to show donors that Whitworth values diversity.

The Campaign for Whitworth was very important to the University because back in October it surpassed its original $100 million goal, making it the largest fundraising effort in the university’s history. Something caught my eye in the press release : I noticed that the campaign began in 2010 and was endorsed by key campus stakeholders, including the board of trustees, in an effort to support Whitworth’s 2021 strategic plan. Most importantly, I saw that since its inception the campaign has funded institutional financial aid/scholarships and endowments and facilities…and none of them have anything to do with diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Though donors can give what they want, this campaign was made with the intention of funding various Whitworth things. “As we continue to seek to fund the highest priorities of our Whitworth 2021 strategic plan, we hope all Whitworthians will join us in this inspired calling,” assistant vice president for institutional advancement, Tad Wisenor, ‘89 said. I guess diversity isn’t as high of a priority as the University makes it out to be.The question here is why haven’t any donors given money to update Hendrick Hall or toward programs benefiting diversity, equity and inclusion? If donors care about diversity and inclusion, where is the money for it?

Contact Ike Emeche at