Photo Courtesy of Isabella Ordaz
Two Pepperdine students who said they are passionate about the idea of fostering community have started the Beloved Community Initiative, a plan to bring Pepperdine students together and create community. Sophomore Isabella Ordaz and senior Omari Allen said they have a passion for the school and its community and plan to start the Beloved Community Initiative by the end of the fall semester 2016.
When asked about the inspiration behind the BCI, Ordaz said, “This initiative is a response to the current blaring absence of spaces for justice-oriented dialogues within the university. We, as students, are taking a proactive approach to resolving this issue.”
Allen is a senior class senator and diversity committee chair for SGA. He serves on the BSA board and takes part in the organization for College Democrats. Ordaz is an SGA sophomore class senator, Intercultural Affairs intern, and is Vice President of the Latino Student Association. Both are deeply involved at Pepperdine and said this is a factor in their desire to begin the Beloved Community Initiative.
The idea for the Beloved Community Initiative at Pepperdine arose from the concept of beloved community from Martin Luther King Jr. In 1956 in a speech at a victory rally following the announcement of a favorable U.S. Supreme Court Decision desegregating the seats on Montgomery’s buses, MLK said, “In the Beloved Community, poverty, hunger and homelessness will not be tolerated because international standards of human decency will not allow it. Racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry and prejudice will be replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood.”
Allen said creating this type of community can be taken care of with an educational approach to social awareness, cultural awareness, diversity, social justice and consciousness. Topics to be discussed are open for suggestion, and include LGBTQ, race, gender, poverty, faith and politics, and many other issues.
Ordaz delivered a TED talk in June that details more of her opinion on diversity and community.
Ordaz and Allen said they plan to hold a series of lectures led by professionals in different fields relating to the topics discussed. Student dialogues will take place following the lectures. They said this will provide an opportunity for students to grow and voice their opinions alongside fellow students.
“We feel like students that care about these issues have nowhere to go and we want to create a space for students that feel marginalized to speak. Not only do we want students that already care to be involved, we want to get Pepperdine students that don’t have opinions on these issues involved,” Allen said.
The initiative should start by the end of the semester as Ordaz and Allen plan to find a group of 12 to 15 students to make up a leadership board. Allen said that if the initiative is successful, he sees it creating a more progressive environment, and he doesn’t mean liberal.
He said he hopes students will feel more a part of Pepperdine. “I mean moving forward and constantly making sure we are doing things as a university that keep us from staying in the old and keep us maintaining relevancy to students that we house and missions we set forth as an institution,” he said. He says that beloved community will be an example of how Pepperdine will be greater than it has been.
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