Category Archives: Features

Late night at Los

By Katy Coley, Associate Editor


A neon “open” sign lights up the unassuming storefront, located between an auto shop and a drugstore. In the midst of the steady stream of cars zooming along Roosevelt Road, Los Burritos Tapatios would be easy to miss, but for many Wheaton students, there is much more to be enjoyed at the restaurant than the “Tacos Tortillas Burritos” advertised in black-block letters above the door.

As soon as I stepped across the threshold, the smell of the steak and chorizo sizzling behind the service counter washed over me. It’s a small space with the wooden tables assembled in the front, but at 10 p.m. on a Thursday, there wasn’t much of a crowd. Tucked behind a heap of peppermints was a to-go cup stuffed with dollar bills. Glass bottles of Jarritos in every color lined the counter, directing my attention to the mountain of chip baskets under a heat lamp on the end. It was clear staff would be expecting many more customers before closing time at 2 a.m.

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Paving the way

The highs and lows of first-generation students at Wheaton

By Grace Kenyon, Staff Writer and Jacob Hosier, Features Editor


Sporting Chacos, blue jeans and a Rend Collective crewneck, junior Bible and theology major Darby Stevens may look like a typical Wheaton student — in many ways, she is one. What is extraordinary about Stevens though, is that she is part of an increasing number of students on campus who identify as first-generation college students.

“First-gen students [can] look like anyone,” fellow first-generation student and Wheaton alumnus Christian Ganza (‘19) said. “It’s not just international, it’s not just students of color, it’s not even just poor white people, it can be wealthy students whose parents didn’t go to college and [the students] have to figure [college] out for themselves.”

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Funding experience: How a new CVC initiative is helping summer interns

By Jacob Hosier, Features Editor


The drawing room in Adams Hall was humid and filled with dust, but it did not stop senior urban studies major Ed Vere from talking about his summer internship experience with passion. This summer, Vere worked in the Philippines as a part of “Companion with the Poor,” a Christian non-profit organization that plants churches in Metro Manila’s poorest neighborhoods. He spent nine weeks with a host family doing ethnographic research, including participant observation, a method of research that involves engaging on a personal level with another group of people over an extended period of time, and conducting interviews.

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Throwing cancer a curveball

How Team Impact provided the Wheaton Women’s Softball team with their youngest player

By Grace Kenyon


Sports are about facing adversity. Athletes persevere through physical challenges, grueling training and personal limitations, always pushing themselves. Confronting the frustrations of competition and learning how to work together is part of the daily routine for an athlete. They may even have to deal with injuries that threaten to end seasons or even careers. This year, some Wheaton College athletes have had the opportunity to learn from someone who has faced enough physical adversity for a lifetime.

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In Mexico, students learn life and language

Students spending the semester in Queretaro, Mexico immerse themselves in language and culture

By Emily Smith


While most Wheaton students are currently breaking out the Chacos and Birkenstocks, defiantly willing it to be spring, eight students have spent the last three months in warm Querétaro, Mexico, a large city 136 miles northwest of Mexico City, through the Wheaton in Mexico program. Although the weather is definitely a perk, the program’s purpose is to help students develop both linguistic and intercultural competency as they take classes and enter into the local community.

Wheaton in Mexico began in 2014 and was offered every other year. Starting in spring 2018 the program has continued every spring semester. Since the program’s inception, students from 20 different majors have participated, and Wheaton in Mexico remains the only Wheaton-run, semester-long international study-abroad program. This characteristic is not the only thing that makes Wheaton in Mexico unique. Associate Lecturer of Spanish and Wheaton in Mexico Director Tim Klingler explained in an email, “In contrast to most study-abroad programs, a faculty member accompanies the student cohort during the entire semester, providing on-site mentoring, teaching an integrative seminar and both supporting and pushing students to deeper intercultural learning and engagement … The dual emphasis on developing linguistic and intercultural competency is very unique.”

As an academic program, students take classes taught entirely in Spanish by professors on a local college campus. Courses include Mexican History, Advanced Spanish, Mexican Art and Mexican-United States Relations. Art class stands out as a particular highlight: for each period in art history students receive an introduction through a lecture or presentation in class, then take a field trip to find examples of art in Querétaro and finally work on an art project in the style they are studying. When class lets out usually around 1 p.m., students go home for “la comida,” the biggest meal of the day. They then head back out to explore the historic center of Querétaro or do homework in a café.

Students also have the chance to complement what they learn in class through several excursions to different parts of Mexico. After learning about the different pre-hispanic civilizations in Mexico, they climb the Teotihuacan pyramids and explore other ancient ruins in Oaxaca. Students also explore Guanajuato, a smaller colonial town, canoe up turquoise rivers in the Sierra Gorda and view the artwork of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera in Mexico City.

“My favorite part of this experience so far has been all of the traveling we have done,” said Caitlyn Kasper, a sophomore currently participating in the program, in an email interview. “Traveling can be super stressful, but through the program a large majority of the logistics are taken care of for you so that you can focus on learning and exploring.”

Brian Salcedo, a senior who participated in the program last year, agreed with Kasper, adding that learning the history of the places he visited enhanced his semester. “It was a very unique, immersive experience. Whether it was in the beautiful waterfalls we visited outside, [or] the pyramids that we saw, each [experience] had [its] own story.”

The heart of Wheaton in Mexico is the opportunity for students to be immersed in the language and to invest in and learn from their local community in Querétaro. Students are individually matched with host families so that they can live and work alongside locals while steeped in the culture. Students commute to school and work. Often host families become treasured resources and confidants throughout a students’ stay. Although culture shock can make total immersion into a family difficult, many students grow to love residential life in Mexico. Rachel Novak, a sophomore currently participating in the program agreed. “[Most families] are amazing sources to learn about Mexican culture and life, and I am positive that they have played a huge role in improving my Spanish,” she told the Record in an email.

Sophomore Leah Martin also raved about her host family, reporting by email from Mexico that despite her host parents’ busy lives, “Somehow, my laundry is still done for me, I’m provided with freshly squeezed orange juice every morning and they never forget to ask me how school was. I kind of feel like an elementary schooler who is convinced their mom must have super powers.”

Students also find a variety of ways to get involved in Mexican culture apart from their host family and classes. Over the years several students have volunteered as English tutors at Instituto Asunción, a Catholic school in the area. They play English word games and facilitate discussions with Mexican students, helping to improve the students’ English language skills while also polishing their Spanish. Teaching in another language allows Wheaton in Mexico students to integrate their majors into pedagogy. Kasper, a Spanish and secondary education major, says she has enjoyed integrating her majors and experiencing “cool exchanges” of English and Spanish learning while serving in the local community.

This semester, other students have gotten involved with Centro de Apoyo Marista al Migrante, a ministry that aids Central American immigrants passing through Querétaro. Students visit the ministry center every other Thursday, cooking breakfast for those living there. The population is young, transitory and open to conversations with other young people. Martin told the Record, “Many of the individuals whom I have met there are young men from Guatemala or Honduras fleeing from violence and/or looking for work … They have been some of the individuals who have shown me the most grace with my Spanish and shown me that my presence is valued.”

Other students create their own service projects that further their specific interests. Salcedo is a senior applied health science major who interned at a local hospital during his 2018 semester in Mexico. He was able to gain invaluable experience as a medical fellow assisting medical students and doctors, attending medical lectures and talking to patients. He reported how incredible it was to observe different departments, especially in a foreign context, and to employ the training he has received at Wheaton. “My favorite part was just having a white coat, learning beside medical students and being treated as a medical student,” he said.

Regardless of how they choose to get involved in the community, all Wheaton in Mexico students find a church home for the semester. “I have been so blessed with a church family that includes some pretty great individuals around our age,” said Martin. “They’ve taken us bowling, to the movies, out for crêpes, out for ice cream, invited us to birthday parties, ran a 5K with us and have been so incredibly patient with us in the process of honing our abilities to speak Spanish.”

Novak also said that her church family has been her favorite part of the semester, but for different reasons. While the community in the church is vital, Novak loves worshipping in a Mexican context. To her, the intercultural exchange that happens during a church service foreshadows heaven’s unity. “I am often hit with the blessed feeling of being part of the Church, the body of Christ connected across the globe, believers from all different cultures and languages,” she said. “It is almost surreal.”

Developing a routine and finding a community in Mexico transforms a foreign place into a home for the Wheaton students living there. When asked what the best part of the semester has been, Martin responded, “Having a host family I belong to, a church family, a volunteer position in a local organization and the knowledge that most employees at the coffee shops within a half hour walking distance from my house definitely recognize me … is a feeling I so cherish. My favorite part about living here has been … feeling like I belong.”

Studying abroad benefits students in several ways. First of all, living cross-culturally teaches students a lot about themselves, not just about their host culture. Many students describe how their growth, while difficult, was accelerated in a foreign context, giving them incredible coping skills, a widened worldview and a better grasp on their identity. “Sometimes I feel as if Wheaton should count another four credits just from emotional and identity learning in a study abroad experience!” joked Novak.

“Wheaton in Mexico had a huge impact on me personally,” said Elizabeth Frey, a senior who participated in the program last year. “I grew incredibly as a person during my time away, not only in my language ability and worldview but as a human being. I learned independence, courage and faith at a level I hadn’t encountered before … My capacity to do my own thing, seek out the experiences I wanted, take care of myself the way my body best responds to and approach conflict expanded beyond anything I expected.” In an email, Frey acknowledged the fear associated with spending four months in an unfamiliar place but said that her experience showed her how much faith and courage she actually possessed. She returned to Wheaton with knowledge of her abilities and with more spontaneity because of her newfound confidence in God’s provision.

The personal aspect of the trip was especially meaningful for Salcedo, who is Mexican-American. Before Wheaton in Mexico, he remembered being “at a loss of what being Mexican-American meant to me.” He said his outlook was transformed by studying in a location that contained a component of his heritage and learning about Mexican history and culture. “I am proud to have a history that [Wheaton students] got to study, and at that same time use that history and mix it with American culture, American identity … and I’m proud of merging both cultures into who I am in my daily life,” he told the Record.

For other students, spending time outside of the culture they have always grown up in is revealing. It can jumpstart a passion for justice, racial reconciliation and intercultural communication. In the case of junior Abby Smith, another 2018 participant, she told the Record that she recognizes more cultural differences in communication and expression. She also noted oppression in regard to many Mexican individuals, saying the experience “opened my eyes to how much injustice there is that I’ve never had to deal with because I’ve always had it easy.”

In addition to learning more about themselves and their cultural identities, students also form strong relationships within their cohort that continue even after the semester ends. “I have been overjoyed to see the way that we have taken care of each other and treat each other like family,” Martin said. “Even though I know that our time here in Mexico will soon be coming to an end, I am so incredibly glad that I get to share the memories we have made here with my Wheaton peers and that I can continue growing in relationship with them even once we are back on campus.”

In the end, all past and present participants interviewed were unequivocal in their assessment of the program. Would they recommend it to others? “1,000 percent yes,” said Novak. “I was told many times that as a science major (and double major) that it would be very difficult to leave for a semester and I should choose a summer program instead. However, I can truly say that nothing could replace a full 16 weeks in another country.”

“I would recommend Wheaton in Mexico to everyone!” Frey said. “I saw the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen, got to experience so much I will probably never get to again and made relationships with people in our group and those I met in Mexico I plan to keep the rest of my life.”

“This semester has definitely not been without its challenges … but it has been such an incredible opportunity for learning and growth. I have learned a lot about myself, had to lean an awful lot on the Lord and have pretty much fallen in love with Mexico,” Martin said.

In the end, Martin did mention one major downside: “The transition back to eating Saga fruit after a semester here might present a rather large challenge.”

Discipline and Devotion

Daily prayer services inspire students during the Lenten season

By Grace Kenyon

Unbeknownst to many passersby, students and faculty have faithfully gathered for prayer and liturgical worship in Adams Hall throughout the Lent season. At 8:30 a.m. or 4:30 p.m. art professor Matthew Milliner can be found in small upper room of Adams encouraging participants to observe the period of fasting and mourning during the 40 days before Easter.

Lent is a time in the church calendar often set aside for discipline and solemn reflection. Milliner has hosted these meetings on campus for the past six years as part of his personal desire to participate in the historic practice and to engage campus in dedicated communal prayer. An expert in visual theology, he has aptly chosen a space filled with traditional religious art, providing an opportunity for attendees to focus before their day begins, or to reflect after a day of work.

Freshman Emma Sawyer, who has been attending these services throughout Lent, described them as a “mental reset before the day begins.” It is completely non-obligatory and open to anyone within or outside the Wheaton community. Sawyer says the prayer services create  a “shared sense of peace” as they begin their day with prayer.

Senior participant Jerusha Crone described the service’s start as “a ringing of a bell and a time of silence, a time to center ourselves in the space with the bodies around us in front of the icons. We then delve into a whirlwind of words: Old Testament, Psalm and New Testament readings, either Mary or Zechariah’s song depending on the time of day and a time of communal confession and intercessory prayer.”

Whether spoken aloud or whispered in the silence of the heart, these prayers constitute a rhythm of discipline and devotion that are part of classical Anglican Lenten practices. The Record spoke to Milliner to hear the story behind the service and how it became a part of the fabric of Lent on Wheaton’s campus.

Daily practices of liturgical prayer, especially during Lent,  are commonly associated with the Anglican tradition, but for Milliner the practice has a unique origin. After Milliner received a B.A. from Wheaton College in Art History, he moved to Pennsylvania to work in youth ministry. “When I was a youth pastor at a Presbyterian church in Pennsylvania,” he said, “there was an old hermit — that’s almost the word I would use to describe him. He had a Ph.D. from Princeton Seminary in New Testament. He was probably 65, 70, not in really good health, but he just took up shop in our church and said ‘I’d like to have morning and evening prayer here.’”

Milliner started attending prayer times led by this unlikely acquaintance, a man of deep intelligence who worked at a convenience store. Milliner said, “I learned from him this half hour rhythm [of prayer] … and it became a part of my day, just getting fused with scripture.”

When Milliner left Pennsylvania to attend Princeton Theological Seminary, he momentarily gave up the ritual, but when he heard that the praying Pennsylvania hermit had died, he felt compelled to find another way to reintegrate this practice into his life. Years later, after graduating from Princeton with an M. Div, M.A. and Ph.D. and returning to Wheaton as a faculty member, Milliner decided that he would “start offering [Lenten prayer] and see what happens.”

The service hasn’t always been well publicized, and it doesn’t always attract a lot of attendees, but it survives. Milliner asserted that “it has been obvious that God wants this happening, and I know that we throw around language like that, but I can be really specific.” He went on to provide a few examples of how God has provided the means and motivation to continue holding these prayer times.

A year ago, on Ash Wednesday, he decided that he wasn’t going to keep hosting the services. “I decided I wasn’t going to do it because I’m just tired and I don’t need another hour on my day … I’ve done this for a while and it’s just time to not do it.” That, he said, was when God intervened. He received a letter from a Wheaton alumna currently living in Munich, Germany. The student beautifully expressed how much she valued his Lenten prayer services when she attended Wheaton, saying they were a wonderful reminder of grace in her daily life. He knew at that moment that the prayer services needed to continue. He said, “It was one of the most dramatic interventions I’ve ever had in my life.”

Another way Milliner has seen God’s hand is in the consistent attendance at the prayer services. He jokingly called the fellowship during  services “the Lenten miracle.”

“I’ve never been alone,” he told the Record, “there was one time, it was 4:30 p.m. on Friday and it was only me [for the first time in Wheaton Lenten history].” Fifteen minutes passed, and he thought no one was coming, but that’s when “a studio associate here who cares for this building and puts on all the shows … he walks by and says, ‘Oh, I’ll come pray with you.’” So the services have continued, drawing in a diverse mix of people from liturgical and non-liturgical traditions alike.

Sawyer and Crone, who represent a sliver of the diverse range of liturgical backgrounds that make up the Wheaton student body, both talked about how attending a regular prayer time has helped them grow in their faith.

Sawyer recounted her own journey to observing the liturgy. “I did not grow up observing Lent. I don’t think I’d ever heard of it until, when I was twelve, I moved to the Netherlands and I went to an Anglican church. And there, it’s kind of ingrained into European culture, but it’s more the party aspect of it, like a Carnival or Mardi Gras kind of thing.” In high school, she moved back to the US and started processing what the Bible says about fasting and other similar practices. Ultimately, she realized that Lent is “a time of mourning and makes Easter more significant.”

Sawyer said that having a specific time and place set aside for prayer was helpful in her devotional life, especially in learning how to pray for others. “There’s a time in the middle [of the service] where Dr. Milliner would say to pray quietly or aloud for different people and you could just say their names.” Sawyer explained,  “When I say I’m going to pray for someone, I want to pray for them.” These prayer times give her the space to do so.

Crone had some profound insight to offer about the role of Lent in her own spiritual journey. She is now Anglican, although she grew up in a Southern Baptist church. She wrote, “I think there is something powerful about rhythms and seasons in our lives that allows us to experience the full range of human emotions and experiences, and the church calendar provides us with an ordering of some rhythms that we get to enter into with our Christian community, living and dead, past, present, and future, and all around the world. It’s a chance to say, I’m having this experience of God but it’s not all about me.”

This theme of community runs deep in the tradition of Lenten prayer. Milliner made it very clear that the prayer service “isn’t meant to replace daily devotions … it is a public form of [prayer]. [Jesus] councils both, and they’re not mutually exclusive.” He went on to say that he reminds himself daily that the services are not “your little project; this is part of what it means to be the church.”

Milliner also incorporates his love of art into the services. Church icons are used as a means of further reflection and meditation.. He explained a little about the origin of these images. “These are from all male monasteries … that women couldn’t even step foot in if they wanted to.” The icons, in replica form, now take up residence on the third floor of Adams, and can be seen be anyone. Milliner hopes people see them as an “exchange of gifts across church traditions.”

In a similar way, the words used in the liturgical rhythm of the prayers and scripture are taken from a long and rich tradition that spans church history. The language is beautiful and poetic, but sometimes not gender-inclusive. Milliner decided to use the gender-inclusive NRSV for the scripture readings. However, not wanting to compromise the artistry of the original language, Milliner decided to continue using the older version of the prayers. “There’s only a couple of moments where men are referred to to signify all humanity, and we’re all adults and we can make the adjustment,” he said.

The icons, like the prayers and the words of scripture, are gifts shared between all Christians across time and space, and Milliner hopes they help participants connect to the larger body of Christ.

As the interview drew to a close, Milliner had one more message he wanted to emphasize. He acknowledged that sometimes the practice of prayer can become a burden when we make each other feel ashamed for not doing it enough. “This is not intended to make you feel guilty,” he insisted. Instead, he urged the rest of campus to “Be encouraged that prayers are rising up from Adams Hall … when we kneel and sit to repent, we’re doing this on behalf of the campus and on behalf of the church.”

The Clean White Toms Behind “Dirty White Vans”

By Sophomore Jack Bennett’s unlikely path to Spotify popularity

By Piper Curda

With over 150,000 streams on Spotify and lyrics brimming with smooth confidence, one might expect the person behind songs like “In This Moment” and “Dirty White Vans” to have a somewhat dominating presence, commanding attention in the same way his music does. But sophomore Jack Bennett and he is anything but imposing.

Like his singing voice, Bennett’s speaks with a rhythmic lilt. He uses it quietly and sparingly. He is arguably one of the most well-known artists on Wheaton’s campus, but you would not guess it from the amiable way he presents himself and the humility with which he talks about himself and his music. Ironically, he also doesn’t wear Vans, and the white Toms he does have are relatively clean.

Bennett is the first to admit that his musical success was fairly accidental. He is a business economics major with no ties to the Conservatory. He plays on Wheaton’s men’s basketball team. “I don’t really have any musical background … I’ve never had any music lessons,” he admits, though his lack of formal training has never deterred him.

Bennett, who grew up in Wheaton, started teaching himself music production in sixth grade simply by listening to music “in detail, picking apart every sound in a song and then trying to replicate it.” He taught himself guitar and piano during his junior year of high school when, on the way home from church one day, his mom pointed out that he had a nice singing voice. As if being entirely self-taught was not impressive enough, Bennett also records, produces, mixes and masters all of his own music with equipment now occupies his dorm room. It is fair to say that Bennett’s journey has been anything but ordinary.

“I honestly didn’t think it would become what it has, as small as it is still,” Bennett told the Record. He describes the positive response he has received thus far as “exciting … fun, but nerve-wracking.” There’s a level of vulnerability that comes with releasing music. “Now, a lot more people have heard my music, so there’s more association of it with me.”

Even so, Bennett does not let the reception of his music carry much weight. “I don’t care if people don’t like my music,” he said. “If they like it and they want to share that they like it, then I appreciate that. I don’t want people to fake it.”

It is difficult to fake it with Bennett’s music given the deliberately honest approach he takes with his lyrics.“I want my music to be real to what I’m thinking and how I feel,” Bennett said, describing his writing process. He expressed his desire to remain authentic when creating. “I do it out of enjoyment and it’s not to satisfy what other people want to hear.”

Enjoyment might be the only rule that Bennett applies to his creative process. Given his nontraditional entrance to the music world, Bennett believes the best process is no process at all. He explained it as something that “just kind of happens” and that often even he is not sure what the final product will end up being.

As a result of his stylized yet scattered method, even going about describing his own sound proves slightly challenging for Bennett. He dubs it “a combination of rap, pop and indie-electronica,” the last of which is heavily inspired by Jeremy Zucker, Bennet’s favorite artist. He also said it’s “a little bit of alternative.” In the end, Bennett admitted, “it’s all over the place, to be honest.” But he (and his listeners) seem to be just fine with that. “I literally just create what I want to. I’ll get on a certain trend for a couple months and then completely switch,” Bennett told the Record. Yet while he does not count on or expect any particular reaction from people that hear his music, he is certain of what he would like people to experience.

Above all, Bennett wants people to feel “connected” and understood. All of Bennett’s lyrics are inspired by his own experiences and relationships, but he intentionally keeps them open-ended in an attempt to cultivate universality. With this approach, he hopes to “put into words some emotions that [listeners] might not understand how to put into words [for themselves].” But once again, Bennett wants to avoid putting himself or anyone else in a box, saying, “I’ve always wanted people to just connect with it in some way, whatever way that is.”

Bennet’s inclination toward ambiguity is enhanced by his wish to create a musical experience that can be enjoyed by all, not just Christians. “A lot of people that would listen to my music that don’t know me wouldn’t know that I’m a Christian,” Bennett told the Record, explaining that this was, and has been, a conscious decision in order to reach both Christians and non-Christians as well as an effort to avoid ostracizing either population.

About the intersection of his music and his faith, Bennett expressed an authentic ambivalence. “I don’t really know how I want to approach it yet,” he said. Nonetheless, this willingness to embrace the unknown puts Bennet’s listeners at ease. To anyone looking to do what he has done, Bennet says, “Don’t force it. Don’t try too hard.” He speaks in earnest, but makes it clear that he does not think of himself as the prototype of a successful musician. “Have fun and don’t think you’re gonna blow up,” he said, adding, “I’m tiny. That’s fun, and that’s where I wanna be.”

While his streaming statistics and on-campus popularity may communicate otherwise, it is obvious that those are not the reasons Bennett does what he does. When asked if he plans to pursue music post-graduation, he shrugged and confessed that he did not really have any set plans for the future except one: “I do it because I love it … I’ll stop making music when I stop loving it.”  

Envisioning the future

How the OMD creates space for learning and empowerment


By Piper Curda

To many students at Wheaton, the Office of Multicultural Development has always been known by its snappy acronym (OMD) and its home in Lower Beamer across from the Office of Christian Outreach (OCO) and next door to the Student Activities Office (SAO). However, the OMD has only occupied in its current space since 2013 and the office itself was not always known as the OMD. Since its beginnings in the 1970s, the OMD went through multiple name changes such as Office of Minority Affairs, Office of Minority Student Development and Office of Multicultural Student Development before finally landing on the Office of Multicultural Development.

espite this mild external identity crisis, the OMD has always upheld its main goal of “being a home for students of color, a resource for ethnic minority students who want to learn more about Christ-centered diversity and an encouragement to the college to cultivate Christian unity that values and celebrates ethnic and cultural diversity.”

The OMD is also home to multiple student-led organizations such as Koinonia, the William Osborne Society, Unidad Christiana, Shalom Community and more that are aimed toward unifying and celebrating people of varying cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Senior Gabidel Miranda, the President of Unidad Christiana (the Latinx student group on campus), agreed, saying, “It’s a place where I feel the most welcome on campus. Since freshman year, it’s a place where I’ve been going for respite.” The OMD,  is a space that welcomes questions and conversations about topics otherwise difficult to discuss in Wheaton’s larger community.

“It’s always been a place where it gets the gears turning,” Miranda told the Record. “In topics of race, I’ve had a lot of feelings,” she continued, “and having these conversations in the OMD has been a new language to help [me] put a name to feelings or things that I’ve been seeing.” Senior Ziyu Gu, the current President of Koinonia (the Asian/Asian American student group on campus), also noted the reality of apathy that many people in the OMD face: “I think it’s hard for any organization … to make people who don’t care, care.” While this challenge may exist, it’s what the OMD equips students to address.

A common misconception Wheaton students may have is that the OMD is exclusively a space for students of color. However, this could not be further from the truth. In fact, the location change to Lower Beamer was motivated in part by a desire to become more accessible to all students who may wander in for a cup of coffee or good conversations. “It’s definitely a friendly space for the Caucasian students here to explore diversity and racial and ethnic relations and issues,” Gu said. The OMD holds many events and special activities, often hosted by a student groups that are open to anyone who wants to join. Events include movie nights, Q&A panels and special lectures. No matter the occasion, the OMD seeks not only to be welcoming to all but also to empower students.

“For a lot of students [the OMD] is not only a place of belonging but also a platform for empowerment,” Gu said. Gu has been a part of Koinonia since her freshman year and admits she found it confusing at first. As an international student from China, Gu found there was a dichotomy between international Asians and Asian Americans and the types of struggles they each faced. “Being in Koinonia was really helpful to understand a lot of racial relations … it’s that living together and learning and sharing differences and similarities that really make OMD special.” Miranda feels this empowerment has been exemplified by an increased interest in leadership positions from those who are part of the OMD. “In the past year or two, I’ve seen a lot of … people from the OMD branching out and applying to positions outside the OMD,” Miranda reflected. Gu concurred, describing the OMD as “a place where minority students feel safe and comfortable to go into, but not necessarily always stay.”

This balance between push and pull is precisely what the late Director of the OMD, Rodney Sisco, wanted to achieve through his work there. “Part of being the body of Christ is that we understand what grace is,” Sisco once said. “We’re preparing young men and women to know how to address that outside of Wheaton — how to be people who are able to engage with difference and conflict [in a manner] that still says we’re doing it as men and women of God.”

Remembering our past

Wheaton’s mixed legacy on issues of race


By Santoro Guiggio

Wheaton’s first president, Jonathan Blanchard was a dedicated abolitionist, a radical who called for racial justice. In a copy of “The Western Citizen and the Free Press” from July 8, 1851, he was listed as the chairman of a Christian anti-slavery conference that sought to “[consider] the duty of the churches in respect to slavery and other palpable sins.” For Blanchard, his advocacy for abolition expanded into the use of Blanchard Hall as a stop on the Underground Railroad. In another copy of the same paper from Oct. 7, 1851, Blanchard is reported giving a speech denouncing slavery before the American Missionary Association.

Associate Professor of History Karen Johnson, who specializes in the history of race and religion in 20th century America, complicates this narrative in her article, “Remembering Our Racial Past: Using Institutional Lament to Shape Affections.” Johnson writes about how Blanchard harbored some harmful opinions about what to do with the Native Americans who occupied land that the United States wanted to control. He felt that the Native American people needed to be removed from the land, even as he expressed regret about the way American military forces treated them. Blanchard also felt that the Native Americans needed to be “civilized” which “many Native Americans today view … as promoting cultural genocide,” according to Johnson.

Discrimination against Native Americans is a part of the story Wheaton College’s narrative cannot be told without. As Johnson writes in her article, “the college still sits on Native American land, literally grounded in native soil that American Indians continue to see as their homeland.”

As time went on, Wheaton’s record on race only grew more complicated. David Malone, the Dean of College and Seminary Library at Calvin College, addresses such issues in his article, “The Wheaton Context.” “The emergence of fundamentalism,” he writes, “influenced transitions in race relations and skewed the college’s founding vision … leaving social efforts to more liberal Christians.” During Charles Blanchard’s time as Wheaton College’s second president, there was growing discrimination against people of color on campus, including the story of Nellie Bryant, a student in the 1910s who was expelled for being African American.

Still, students of color continued to enroll at Wheaton. During an independent study in 2011, former Wheaton student Leah Fulton wrote “Historical Glimpses of Color.” Fulton’s text records several students of East Asian descent attending the college in the 1920s and 1930s. Another notable student of color at the college in the 1920s was Charles Satchell Morris. However, as Assistant Archivist Keith Call mentions in his Buswell Library Special Collections blog post Quite an Aristocratic Negro,” Morris was no fan of Wheaton College. When asked to donate to the college to help complete Blanchard Hall, he recounted how Charles Blanchard had allowed him to be unfairly expelled from the college dining hall and for that reason he would not contribute even “10 cents to complete Blanchard Hall.”

For African Americans in particular, Wheaton was not the most welcoming community in the 1930s and 1940s. According to Fulton’s text, in the 1940s Herbert Oliver was the first African American student to graduate from Wheaton since the 1920s. On top of this, several letters between President James Oliver Buswell and Rev. Wyeth Willard in 1939 describe conflict at the college over whether or not to admit an African American woman named Rachel Boone. As Malone notes in his text, there were concerns on the part of college authorities that the school could not serve people of her race. He cites the school’s Executive Council as saying that “social problems” would arise from her being accepted by the college.

During the Raymond Edman and Hudson Armerding administrations, changes occurred that began moving the college towards a path of rectifying racial disparities. Malone mentions that President Edman made an unsuccessful attempt to support the National Scholarship Service and Fund for Negros. He also established a committee on race relations that revealed the various forms of discrimination against minority students that were a part of life at Wheaton College.

As Fulton notes in her booklet, during the tenure of Armerding, several initiatives were launched in an effort to encourage minority students to attend Wheaton College. In 1968, a Compensatory Education Program was created to increase educational opportunities for minorities. A copy of the Wheaton Record from May 24, 1968 states that the program involved admitting 12 students (most of whom were black) from low-income areas. The article noted that “the program would waive certain admissions requirements and provide remedial and financial aid where needed.”

Unfortunately, the program did not work out as well as its creators had hoped. Fulton mentioned an article that described the program by saying “the idea was good but the methodology was wrong” and that some students even suffered “emotional and psychological wounds” from it. In 1970, the Educational Opportunity Program was established to improve minority enrollment at Wheaton. A decade later, towards the end of Armerding’s tenure, the Director of Minority Student Development position was established to help improve the experiences of minorities on campus.

After the end of Armerding’s time serving as president in the early 1980s, the college administration and the student body made new efforts to diversify Wheaton College, to celebrate minority cultures and pursue racial reconciliation. To emphasize the importance of diversity, President Richard Chase wrote an article titled “Diversity and Unity,” published in the college bulletin’s newsletter “InForm” during his second year at the college. This article does not specifically mention race, but it does call for members of the college to remember the unity of all believers in the body of Christ, even in the face of the diversity of the individual members of that body. It also warns of the dangers of simplistic generalizations about and judgments of others. Malone notes in his article that during President Duane Litfin’s tenure the college started the African-American Church Lecture Series and even more recently created the Church and Nieves scholarship for Latinx and African American students. Student groups like Gospel Choir (1986), the William Osborne Society (1987) and the Solidarity Cabinet (2006) were also formed during this pivotal time.

Despite these moves toward increasing the diversity of the student body and toward offering greater acknowledgment of and respect for minority students and their cultures, contradictions still characterize Wheaton’s relationship with race. Research from 1997, cited in Malone’s article, found that the white majority on campus reacted with indifference toward minority groups even if they were not aggressively prejudiced against them. The study claimed that majority students believed “that [racism] is not a problem on a ‘friendly campus’ like Wheaton’s. Such a belief … may be rooted in students’ limited definition of racism as the most overt types of prejudice.” As members of the college’s administration and student body tried to combat racism at Wheaton, this indifference by the white majority represents one of the latest of the contradictions in Wheaton’s history of race relations, one that endures to this day.

Since 1997, however, student diversity has increased 11.4 percent. As of 2016, 21.6 percent of Wheaton students were people of color. This was helped by efforts such as the From the Heart for the Kingdom campaign, which ran from 2013 to 2018.

Recent changes have included revisions to the covenant to include relevant language about diversity and community, expansion of the Office of Multicultural Development, engaging in external reviews of campus diversity, creating student leadership training for students of color and intentionally focusing on hiring a more diverse and ethnically varied staff. The Chaplain’s Office also made intentional choices to invite more speakers of color to campus for chapel and to hold events to further the discussion of racial and ethnic relations on campus.

Another large step for Wheaton was the creation of the Chief Intercultural Engagement Officer in the Senior Administrative Cabinet (SAC), which was filled by Sheila Caldwell. Caldwell, who received a doctorate in education from the University of Georgia in addition to completing the Harvard Kennedy School Strategies for Building and Leading Diverse Organizations Executive Education program, is the first woman of color to serve on the SAC. She has a vision “to deepen ethnic diversity, promote racial reconciliation, and advance cultural understanding,” according to the Wheaton Magazine.

Though Blanchard Hall’s official designation as a stop on the Underground railroad in 2012 by President Obama was significant, it was only one event in a long and complicated history of race relations at Wheaton that is still being written today.

A Taste of Home: Celebrating Lunar New Year at Wheaton


By Maddie Cash and Boyd Allsbrook

“It is incredibly powerful for the Chinese students of Wheaton to feel remembered and to remember,” Rose Wang, a Mandarin professor at Wheaton, told the Record. On Feb. 15, students from countries such as China and Korea remembered and celebrated their culture at the Spring Festival, colloquially called the Chinese New Year.

During the festival, hosted by the Chinese Language and Culture Club, the exchanging of blessings and the accompanying celebrations expressed the longing for peace in the new year. Chinese New Year is by far the most popular tradition in China and Korea. The 15-day festival begins on the first day of the first new moon on the lunar calendar. This year makes the ninth year that Wheaton College’s student body has come together to celebrate and share in Chinese culture.

Originally organized and hosted by Koinonia as the Lunar New Year Festival, the event has gradually come under the leadership of the CLACC. There is always an emphasis on traditional cuisine, musical and cultural performances, and crafts and games. This year the crowd of more than 100 students, professors and community members gathered to watch martial arts exhibitions, listen to Chinese songs and eat traditional foods like Tangyuan (sweet rice balls) and scallion pancakes. The event reminds Chinese students of their homes and culture while introducing the beauty and excitement of Spring Festival to Wheaties who might never be exposed to it otherwise. Freshman Ethan Iha, an attendee, remarked that although he didn’t know what the lyrics meant, “The songs were so beautiful, and I got chills.” Wang described the festival as “a time for people to come home, be with family and just celebrate.”

One performer, freshman Lucy Yang, told the Record about the sense of community that Wheaton’s Lunar New Year’s celebration gives Chinese students. “There aren’t that many Chinese students represented on campus, and it feels good to have a club like [CLACC], to remember us,” she said. “I wish that more people were aware of Chinese festivals and culture. We’re a pretty diverse group. I hope it’s even bigger next year.”

Wang agreed. “The sharing of cultures that happens is so wonderful,” she told the Record. “They are far from home, and the Spring Festival is the biggest cultural holiday that the Chinese have.” Another student, sophomore Chloe Liu, told the Record that the festival “felt like home” which is what CLACC hoped to give students thousands of miles from their homes.

“The celebration is important because it brings Chinese culture to the forefront, if only for a night, and shows love to those students, and makes them feel a sense of home away from home.” Wang explained. “It also shows love by sharing this really fun piece of culture to all those at Wheaton. Good food, good music, good fellowship.”