Last week, Multnomah University held its 3rd annual Mosaic Week; a series of events created to spark critical thinking and dialogue on issues of diversity, inclusion, cultural identity, and justice.
2019 was a record-breaking year in terms of engagement and attendance at Mosaic Week. As Vice President of Diversity and Inclusive Development, I can say that my team and I were very encouraged by the support of the institution around this whole week. Faculty and staff attend these events, SGA funded some of our programming, and chapel credit was offered to students for attendance. When the whole institution engages with Mosaic Week, we can make progress together.
I am personally excited that Mosaic Week is gaining a reputation as a safe place to be engaged, even though you will be challenged. I am especially moved when I think about where Mosaic Week started. I think about the students in the past who sacrificed to get these conversations started. I stand on the foundation that those students built. I believe that our job as a diversity driven team is not to complete their work, but to recognize that God has us here in this season, in this time, to work through the issues we can. We want to take the next step and make space for the next generation of leaders to take the step after that. Ultimately, we are legacy-building instead of problem-solving.
With so much positive progress and so much still to do, we do not want conversations to end at the end of Mosaic week. We do not leave Mosaic conversations at Mosaic. We want Mosaic week to begin and to continue conversations. We want it to spark action, heart change, and institutional change. Mosaic week is not just about individual heart-change, which is necessary, it also considers how heart-change informs the systems that are in place. If we fail to make systemic, institutional changes, we will keep having the same conversation each year, which is not our goal. We want the conversation to move forward each year, and we want everyone to feel included in that.
My goal is for people to see Mosaic Week as wholly encompassing all of us, including the dominant culture. My desire is for every person to see Mosaic Week as a celebration of every member of our community. Whatever part of the mosaic you relate to, I hope you can see yourself included alongside everyone else. I would love for the conversation to not only include race but to move beyond that to other aspects of diversity that are difficult to talk about like gender, socioeconomic status, mental illness, and many others.
We want to connect the marginalized with the rest of our community, and I am happy to say that this week was a step forward because we saw so many people come in. We want to care for all people. In a perfect world, we no longer need Mosaic week because we are doing the work all the time. We realize that perfection may be out of reach but becoming a community of people who are eager to listen, include others, and diversify our perspectives and demographics are worthwhile and attainable goals that we will continue to pursue as a university. Mosaic Week 2019 was a great success in my eyes, and we will continue to move forward.
Jessica Taylor, VP of Diversity and Inclusive Development