President Cook’s Statement on Free Speech
To the Warner Pacific Community:
Recently, our Knights joined an on-going national conversation about free speech and the rights of student-athletes to protest peacefully. I know that many of you have strong feelings about these actions and some of you have shared your opinions about the decision by members of the men’s basketball team to kneel during the national anthem at the home game on November 15, 2016.
I have heard both support for the actions of these students as well as concerns over the choice they have made, and I understand the deep convictions and concerns driving both perspectives. As a community, our ability to live in this tension with grace is both our privilege as Americans and our calling as followers of Christ.
As a community, Warner Pacific is dedicated to putting our core values into practice. We respect students’ capacity to think independently and encourage each one to engage actively in the academic and co-curricular learning process. While at Warner Pacific, we desire for students to learn the importance of questioning the status quo as they become critical thinkers who are capable of evaluating evidence to inform their decisions. As the President of Warner Pacific College, I fully support your right to enter into this conversation respectfully and I welcome the diverse perspective that each of us brings.
I recognize that some people may be upset by the actions taken by these students, or by the response of those who oppose these actions. But let me be clear, Warner Pacific College holds fast to the First Amendment rights of every student and employee. Whether you are debating in the classroom, praying in the locker room, petitioning at city hall, waving the American flag, or kneeling during the national anthem; we are all protected under the same freedoms.
We have the privilege to walk with young people as they journey through this process of learning; wrestling with their perspectives on many things, including faith and grace. We have this moment—a span of a few years— to engage them in a Christ-centered learning process that will help form and frame their lives beyond this place.
My hope is that Warner Pacific will be known as a community that invites and encourages all to come to the table where we can engage in respectful and civil dialogue rather than shouting at one another from the corners.
With Hope and Gratitude,
Andrea P. Cook, Ph.D.