June 19, 2020

Newbold College Reacts to Incidents of Racism and Discrimination on Campus

Following the release of an earlier statement on “Black Lives Matter,” Newbold College of Higher Education, a Seventh-day Adventist school in Bracknell, England, has issued a further news release and video, noting, “It is time to apologize. It is time to hold ourselves accountable. It is time to vow change for a better future.” The following was recorded in a video message by Newbold College principal John Baildam.—Editors

Official College Statement

Since the “Black Lives Matter” statement, which I made recently in the light of the killing of George Floyd, we have been shocked and disappointed to hear from current students, staff, and alumni of unacceptable incidents of racism and discrimination at Newbold College of Higher Education. I am grateful to those of you who have so courageously and bravely taken the time to communicate your feelings of pain and hurt with us. This has been no easy thing to do. We have let you down, and we will strive to put things right.

The current watershed has given us all pause for ongoing thought as we reflect on your distress and suffering, which we wish to recognize openly and properly. While we cannot re-write our College’s history, together we can all help to shape its future. We acknowledge past and present wrongs perpetrated on racial grounds while reiterating that racist or discriminatory behavior is not in harmony with God’s ideal. We are sorry for all failures in this regard on the part of the College, and we ask for forgiveness for every heartache or anguish caused or felt.

Elie Wiesel stresses that “what hurts the victim the most is … the silence of the bystander.” We promise to ensure that black lives really do matter on our campus, and we ask you to help us to make this an everyday reality. We have already called a meeting for next Monday [for June 22] of a Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic Audit and Strategy Panel. Chaired by our chaplain Alastair Agbaje, this group will comprise a number of students and staff. Now is the time for us to listen, and so — difficult though this may be — we ask you to find the strength to voice your experiences so that together we can find the practical solutions needed for change. There is a lot of work ahead of us all, but we are ready to change things for the better. Do look out for further initiatives, which will include a virtual open dialogue session.

As an ethnically and culturally diverse Senior Leadership Team ourselves, my colleagues Abigail Wright (Chief Financial Officer), Serena Santona (Academic Registrar), and I, as principal, are proud of the rich multi-ethnic and multi-national heritage of our college students and staff. We wish to serve as examples of justice and equality. We concur with Ellen White, who reminds us that “when the love of Christ is cherished in the heart … no difference will be made because of the color of the skin.” Racism, prejudice, and intolerance of any kind have no place here, and we are committed to working intentionally to eradicate any traces of such.

Newbold’s campus must be a safe and welcoming place for all, regardless of race, color, culture, tribe, gender, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, disability, or ability.
We know that whatever we say may never be enough, but we thank you for giving us the chance to right any wrongs.

The original version of this statement was posted on the Trans-European Division news site.