COLLEGE PLACE, Wash. — A promotional pamphlet recently published by Walla Walla University has caused a row between the school and Oakwood University in Huntsville, Ala.
According to allegations by Oakwood, a historically black Adventist institution, the front page of the brochure, titled Faces of Walla Walla, features three Oakwood students.
“We were taking a tour of Walla Walla and as we passed the University Relations Office, some of the staff asked us if we’d be willing to take a group pic with some of their students,” said Shawn Ray, a junior Biology major from Oakwood. “We had no idea it was for a promo piece.”
“I have to say I feel a bit tricked,” said sophomore Communications major Natasha James who was with the Oakwood delegation. “If they’d been straight up about it, I wouldn’t have cared but this was sneaky.”
“The actions of the University Relations team were unethical and unnecessary,” agreed Walla Walla University’s Director of White Studies, Bianca Blanche. “Everyone knows Walla Walla is a super diverse school. I myself am ethnic. My great-grandfather was an eighth Cherokee,” she said, brushing aside a stray golden lock.
In response to the uproar, Walla Walla has released a statement apologizing for “the lack of photo model attribution” and promised to “make every effort to systematize use of accurate consent forms for the university’s promotional photography.”
The team leader who requested the picture with the Oakwood students has been under a lot of pressure to explain his decision. “I agree that my actions were a little unorthodox. It’s just that we wanted to show the wonderful cultural and ethnic diversity of WWU and our own African American students were practicing for their quartet’s next performance.”
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I work in PR for a different Adventist school and laughed out loud reading this. In this case, it’s funny because it’s so far from the truth. Most of the Adventist colleges and universities are among the most diverse in our regions–and the statistics that tell me that don’t even include international students (whom the US government doesn’t count).
We’ve gotten complaints that we are “trying too hard” to look diverse in our promotional materials, but just last month I did a photo shoot and the students who happened to be available were African American, Latino, Indian and Asian. We really weren’t trying for it. My student worker said she could skip class if we “really needed a white kid” (I do not ever condone skipping class though). Yes, white students are still the largest ethnic group, but no matter what people may assume, we really don’t try hard to show our diversity. We just are diverse. We would have to work hard to conform to the expectation of whiteness most people have of us.
What a joke. Did the author bother to check the ethnicity statistics of any of these colleges, including WWAU? Implying that WW has only four black students (“practicing for their quartet”) is ridiculous and falsely portrays them in the stereotype of African Americans just being entertainers. Why didn’t the author say “studying for their physics exam” or “conducting experiments in the chemistry lab?” (I know, he wanted to say something that implied there are only 4. But just sayin’.) In general, these colleges reflect the population but have more diversity than the general population, and they are always seeking to boost diversity not for sake of numbers but for the sake of helping disadvantaged people. Some readers may think this is funny, but it just trivializes the issues.
This web site is funny. Its funny! We need to laugh about ourselves once in a while. Perhaps that will help us to remember Gethsemane, and have a good cry. Thanks for the perspective. I don’t take things here too seriously. If you are a disciple of Christ, whatever you may do will not offend me.