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Lawrence Burnley

Dr. Burnley works at Whitworth as the Assistant Vice President of Diversity and Intercultural Relations.

Interview by Gianina Nakagawa, May 2014

             The main work I do here at Whitworth is to help the school reach goals related to diversity, inclusion, equity, etc. Moreover, I provide a critical outlook to these goals if they identify with the Whitworth mission. To make Whitworth more welcoming and accommodating to underrepresented groups, both faculty and student, we must identify our strengths and weaknesses when dealing with these issues. I look at surveys such as the recent Haulani Climate survey or the retention rates of minority students, staff, and faculty here at Whitworth. Together with other staff and students, we compile data and create goals that would work towards a welcoming climate towards diverse students. At Whitworth, we strive to create a pleasant and harmonious environment for each student regardless of race, gender, and social status. 

 For me, Peace is about equity and inclusion. It is about creating an environment that welcomes and values difference. This is an environment where love dominates and has an intolerance of exclusion, but does not have an absence of conflict. I believe that in order to achieve Peace, there should be some degree of conflict where we challenge each other to foster a better setting for everyone. Through conflict, we can develop better understanding of other’s culture and ideas. A peaceful world is focused on love and the pursuit of justice. I personally strive to be conscious of the unintended oppression around me. Although I am aware that there are still some qualities that I lack as well, I wish for everyone to be conscious of this silent and invisible oppression as well.

 In order to promote peace, we must individually look at ourselves and reflect on our own actions and ideas. Are we asking the right questions? Do we refrain from any excluding actions or behaviors? As an educator, I encourage a learning environment that focuses on minority and oppressed voices. This helps us understand historical phenomena from multiple identities. Moreover, I encourage people to have courageous conversations that allow us to step outside our comfort zone and think outside the box. One of my personal goals that I am working towards is creating an environment that helps students cross boundaries and leave their comfort zone. Having courage and speaking up is the first step to fighting injustice. If there are any concerns about a course or the Whitworth mission, find ways to express it in some form. Find allies that can be a support because having someone with you is always better than being alone. Through groups, you can speak with a collective voice. Participate in student activism and help give voice to the voiceless. There are already some student activist groups at Whitworth. In order to be informed and aware of issues, find ways to pursue beyond the requirements in class. Lastly, love yourself and love your neighbor as self.