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Protect Rollins College’s Mission of Diversity and Global Citizenship

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There has been controversy concerning the religious affiliation of a candidate for the position of Rollins College’s Dean of Religious Life. The concern is that a non-Christian Dean of Religious Life would not accurately represent the student body and the appointment of one would be in opposition to the goals of Rollins’ founding members.

The Dean of Religious Life has the following responsibilities as described by the job posting:

·       Supports student faith-based, spiritual, and religious groups, in collaboration with campus partners as appropriate, to facilitate student interactions across faith and belief traditions

·       Builds relationships and collaborative partnerships with religious, spiritual, interfaith, and wellness leaders on campus and in the community.

·       Partner with the Center for Leadership and Community Engagement to elevate community engagement efforts

·       Manages administrative and budgetary matters related to the duties of the department

·       Serves as a steward for the Knowles Memorial Chapel space and works collaboratively in its use and oversight with Event Services and Scheduling, and Facilities Management.

·       Represents Student Affairs, and Rollins College in a variety of forums on and off campus; attends, conducts or participates in a variety of meetings as assigned, and serves on divisional and campus-wide committees

The majority of these responsibilities are concerned with promoting interfaith interactions and engaging in the community. It should be noted that there are no religious affiliation qualifications for this position. In fact, the position specifically looks to promote Rollins’ goal of diversity and states “persons from historically under-represented minority groups are therefore encouraged to apply.” In the context of the religious history of the United States, a minority group is one which does not adhere to a Christian faith.

Furthermore, the Dean of Religious Life is responsible for the religious and spiritual needs of the Rollins community, and should then reflect the Rollins community. In opposition to the notion that a non-Christian Dean would not reflect the community, it should be recognized that a Dean who simply adheres to a popular student faith is not a reflection of the community. An accurate reflection of the community is a Dean who shares Rollins’ passion for opening the community to not just the already dominate spirituality, but to the integration and knowledge of other spiritual disciplines as well.

It should be taken into account that although Rollins was founded on Christian-centered beliefs, it was nonsectarian from the start. Today Rollins is officially unaffiliated and is not considered a Christian college. On the Christian motto, “Fiat Lux,” Rollins has adapted the Biblical reference to their goal of global citizenship, on providing “light” in the world through social activism. This is apparent through the Fiat Lux Award, which is not based on the students’ respective religions, but on their “most positive contributions to our campus and community through academics, athletics, inclusion, and campus community involvement. They are considered to be some of the most established and honorable leaders at Rollins who embody Rollins’ mission of global citizenship and responsible leadership.” The appointment of a non-Christian Dean would not be in offense to the founding members of Rollins. In fact, a goal of the college from the start was progressive education.

The notion that a candidate should be dismissed from a position based on their religious affiliation is directly against Rollins’ beliefs and goals. A candidate should be chosen based on their experience, qualifications, and dedication to Rollins’ goal of creating global citizens. An instrumental part of being a global citizen is having not just knowledge of, but acceptance of religions other than your own.

Speaking on the behalf of the Rollins community, this petition calls for the nondiscriminatory consideration of a candidate for the position of Dean of Religious Life.

 

Sources:

Job Posting: http://www.nacuc.net/jobs/3883098

Petition against the hiring of a non-Christian Dean of Religious Affairs: https://www.change.org/p/dr-mamta-accapadi-protect-rollins-chapel-and-heritage#delivered-to



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