Sent to all students on Friday, April 20 from the Office for Student Engagement
Dear PLU Campus Community,
The Office for Student Engagement would like to formally offer an apology in response to recent concerns about the artist lineup for LollaPLUza, PLU’s annual music festival that is scheduled for May 12th. We recognize that all three artists are cisgender white males and that the lineup is not representative of PLU’s student body, nor the demographics of its surrounding Parkland and Tacoma neighborhoods. We have heard and acknowledge that many students expressed disappointment, sadness, and anger that this event, whether intentional or unintentional, fails to feature the talents, experiences, and cultures of diverse musicians at one of PLU’s largest campus-wide events. Furthermore, some students communicated that they experienced the announcement as “salt in a wound,” or as a cumulative re-wounding, given their previous exclusionary experiences with PLU and the Office for Student Engagement.
We apologize to PLU’s students and the campus community for failing to engage in a genuinely culturally-responsive planning and selection process for LollaPLUza, for overlooking the homogenous identities of the featured artists, and for perpetuating exclusionary practices and policies that unjustly dishonor and hurt our campus community. We acknowledge that this process and its outcomes contradict PLU’s mission statement and values, which center around diversity, justice, sustainability, and care for our entire community.
While SAB has already issued an apology on social media, the Office for Student Engagement would like to take responsibility for our mistakes that contributed to the artist lineup and re-wounding of our community members. First, our office acknowledges that we provided inadequate advising to all students involved in SAB due to staff turnover and staffing decisions made by our leadership team. With culturally-responsive advising, SAB could have engaged in proactively inclusive planning and a selection process that invited the voices of diverse campus organizations and individuals, resulting in artists who reflect the diversity of our student body and surrounding communities. We are reviewing professional staffing structures and are currently engaged in a hiring process for a new position, Student Engagement Coordinator, who will be a dedicated advisor to SAB and other student organizations. It will be a priority for this professional staff selection process to uplift the importance of multicultural competence and ability to provide culturally-responsive and inclusive advising.
Second, our office also recognizes a lack of proactive culturally-responsive training for our student employees. SAB students have not been adequately prepared for and equipped with necessary resources–knowledge, skills, or relationships–to navigate the cultural complexities and impacts that SAB programs have presented. Had they received comprehensive training, the process and outcomes could have honored our diverse student body. Moving forward, inclusive hiring practices and training related to social justice and culturally-responsive initiatives and programming will be a priority for us in working with SAB and other student organizations.
Moving forward, our office and SAB are considering a variety of options for LollaPLUza on May 12th and would appreciate your feedback and partnership as we plan our course of action. We realize that our options may be limited and timing is less-than-ideal, but nevertheless would like to include a wider scope of individual and group voices in our remaining process. We invite you to attend a forum on Wednesday, April 25th from 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. in Anderson University Center’s Regency Room. The forum will be open to all members of the PLU community. Staff from the Office for Student Engagement and representatives from SAB will share additional information about our process of planning and announcing LollaPLUza, as well as encourage members of our community to share their reactions, ideas, and hopes for both this event and moving forward in providing support for the entire PLU community in the future, especially recognizing, supporting, and uplifting the lived experiences of Students of Color and other historically minoritized groups at PLU.
In the long-term, the Office for Student Engagement will seek to learn from previous and current mistakes and commit to proactive, anti-racist, and culturally responsive practices that span the entirety of our work. We will carefully engage in revamping our hiring, training, and advising approaches for staff and students so that our practices genuinely reflect the values of diversity, justice, sustainability, and care for all students as communicated in our PLU mission statement.
The Office for Student Engagement
Tom Huelsbeck, Associate Vice President for Campus Life, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jes Takla, Assistant Dean for Campus Life, Co-Curricular Learning and Assessment (as of June 1), email@example.com
Laree Winer, Associate Director for Student Engagement & Wild Hope Center for Vocation, firstname.lastname@example.org
Alexis Nelson, Assistant Director for Transitional Engagement, email@example.com
Maileny Guillen, Interim Student Engagement Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org
Aryn Fine, Student Engagement Programs Assistant, email@example.com