Gay pride flag stolen

During the final week of Lent, a memorial intended to mourn the lost lives of marginalized students, a gay pride flag draped around the cross was reported stolen prior to April 4.


Starting March 1, the Lent memorial of a cross near the Jesus Mural featured a different marginalized people group each week, including black lives, immigrants, Native Americans and queer lives. Each display featured testimonies, photos, some type of textural item and Jesus’ words in scripture and a psalm.

The theft was made widely known on social media by the organizer of the memorial and alumni. Biola’s official Facebook page responded to calls of action, and administration posted a signed statement next to the memorial, officially protecting it.

Because administration was not made aware of the purpose of the memorial until the incident on social media, President Barry Corey sent an email to faculty explaining the intent of the memorial and his personal reflection on it, though the email excluded mention of the theft.


Upon request, University Communications and Marketing gave more information to the Chimes explaining what they currently know about the theft.

“The week of April 4, a rainbow flag that had been placed on the cross was removed. The university became aware that the flag had been stolen the following day. The university has not been able to identify the person or persons responsible for removing it. The group who organized the display replaced the missing flag with an American flag,” the statement said.

Biolans’ Equal Ground has also scheduled to meet with Corey on April 28. Although the meeting was planned prior to the theft, the Chimes will follow up on the discussion with Biolans’ Equal Ground after the meeting.

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Faculty support marginalized students

To date, 26 Biola faculty members have signed a statement to support marginalized students who attend Christian universities across the country.


Once the statement, drafted by North Park Theological Seminary and Westmont College, became public on social media and through the press, faculty and staff members from approximately 150 Christian and Catholic schools of higher education signed the statement.

While faculty members from North Park Theological Seminary watched the election progress, they began to notice the divisive ways topics including gender and race were discussed, according to the seminary’s professor of theology and ethics, Michelle Clifton-Soderstrom.

“Our faculty wanted to write a statement that showed that we’re not going to be politically divisive and we’re going to stand in the space of the gospel, which often puts us in those in between spaces that can be really difficult,” Clifton-Soderstrom said. “Another one was actually more personal and intimate to our community, and that is… many students that were feeling traumatized by the election results as well as the rhetoric around it.”


With the intention of showing support for marginalized students, four faculty members and the dean of the seminary David Kersten wrote a letter. They hoped to convey the message biblically, theologically, as well as pastorally, according to Clifton-Soderstrom. They also wanted to cover a wide range of topics, including levels of privilege and national sins.

“We didn’t want to make it about Trump. We wanted to say he might represent some of the fears and national sins we have but this is not about him,” Clifton-Soderstrom said. “This is about something much deeper. This is about the community in the U.S. at this time and the ways that we are talking to each other and not seeing each other.”

After the drafting and editing of the letter, seminary faculty and staff were asked to sign the letter in order to show their care for students.

“The vision behind [having faculty and staff sign the letter] was to show a unified voice, to show a strong voice, to show that even we as a community who embody different levels of power, even between faculty and staff, to show that we would like to work together to address through theological education and through our pastoral mission to address some of these issues that are named in the letter,” Clifton-Soderstrom said.

Westmont picked up the statement because several faculty members considered themselves part of the congregation surrounding North Park. Westmont received permission from North Park to adapt the statement to their own faculty members and posted their own statement on their website.

“We are Christian intellectuals,” said Lisa Deboer, Westmont professor of the history of arts. “We are responsible to the standards of the academy, we are responsible to the standards of our guild, but we are also responsible to the highest calling of our faith and we have to speak to the broader culture about what it is Christians stand for and we have to speak to our churches about what our witness is actually looking like in the larger culture.”


After receiving requests from professors from other colleges and universities, Westmont edited the statement once more, which included removing language specific to Westmont. Upon completion, they created a website and began circulating the statement on social media. Requests increased after the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities shared it on their Facebook page and Inside Higher Ed covered it.

“One of the things that’s been so encouraging to me is that when I look at the list that is growing every day on the web is to see how many people in different academic areas of study in varying kinds of institutions are saying, ‘Yes, this describes my commitment,’” Deboer said.

At Biola, faculty members in several different departments have signed the statement, including professor of sociology Brad Christerson. He signed the statement after finding it through social media, but also because he believes the treatment of people on the margins needs to change.

“I think we just need to affirm that just the suffering and the marginalization that people are experiencing not only nationally because of the current political climate, but in our evangelical subculture and just confess that, repent of it and promise to protect and embrace those among us on the margins,” Christerson said.

Christerson also noted that while these problems of racism, misogyny and marginalization of people groups have existed for a long time, the current political climate makes the issues particularly important now.

“It’s always important to stand up for people in the margins, but particularly now. Because of the current climate and some of the current policies that are being implemented, I think it’s really an important time in our history to stand up,” Christerson said.

Allen Yeh, associate professor of intercultural studies and missiology, also first heard of the statement on social media. He claimed to feel hesitant initially to sign the statement in order to avoid it becoming a political statement, but decided to sign the statement after examining the different parts and the Scripture references included with them.

“I realized that the gospel is inherently political,” Yeh said. “I mean, Jesus was political… So for people to say, ‘Oh, let’s not get political with our Christianity,’ I’m sorry, but we can’t help it. It’s sort of the definition of it. If it’s about people and how to love your neighbor and associate with other people who are different from you then it’s political.”

Yeh hopes students and people from outside Christian institutions will see this statement as supported by Christian intellectuals from varying backgrounds. He also hopes the statement will encourage the church to go back to the basics of Christianity.

“Everything in it was scripturally based and part of me thought, ‘What Christian wouldn’t sign this?’” Yeh said. “What I see this document is as a purifying, let’s get back to the basics document. And this is saying, ‘Hey, let’s remind ourselves of what we’re about. Let’s remind ourselves of what God is about and what the gospel is about.’”

*Co-authored with Rebecca Mitchell

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Graduation requirements decrease for select majors

Students received an email on April 3 from provost and senior vice president Deborah Taylor regarding the opportunity to reduce their minimum units for graduation from 130 to 120 units.


This change will go into effect for the 2017-18 catalog year for some majors. David Bourgeois, undergraduate chair for the Crowell School of Business, proposed the change in fall 2015 for every department to have the option to reduce the required units for each major, as long as they stay above the new 120 unit requirement.

“Most universities, that’s the standard pretty much. You look anywhere across the United States, it’s 120 units,” Bourgeois said. “So the basic proposal was just to lower the standard from 130 to 120 and then all the different degrees and majors that are out there could decide what they wanted to do with that.”


Some departments, including nursing and biological sciences, will not change because of their specialized requirements which already exceed the 130 unit requirement of previous catalogs. However, students in other majors may need fewer electives to meet the new minimum requirement.

“In some cases, students are already taking these general electives that really aren’t part of their major just to get to the 130,” Bourgeois said. “They’re just taking the extra units to get to the 130. So we’re giving them a path now so they don’t have to do that.”

Discussions to lower graduation requirements began when Bourgeois proposed a new business degree with only 120 units, in order to compete with other universities, including Azusa University and Westmont College. However, this change has been a long time coming, according to Bourgeois.

“I think even if I hadn’t submitted it, it would’ve been something that would have happened,” Bourgeois said. “[The new business degree is] something that we didn’t want to have to make some sort of special exception and so… I submitted a proposal that we should change it for the whole university.”


While new students will automatically come in under the new catalog, current students will have the option to switch to this catalog. However, Bourgeois recommends students seek advising before switching, due to possible complications in their requirements.

“We don’t want to tell people that, ‘Hey, you can all get done with school earlier,’ because it probably isn’t true for the majority of students,” Bourgeois said. “If someone is already a senior, it probably doesn’t make sense because you’re already close to graduation that just a few units maybe won’t help you… But for [a] freshman or sophomore, it’s probably worth examining if there’s an advantage to you.”

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New school year brings new calendar

As students plan for next school year, they will need to take into account new changes to the academic calendar, which change the lengths of interterm and summer as well as the placement of spring break.


After two years of research and consideration, administration has decided to change Biola’s academic calendar. The changes include eliminating interterm to make a longer summer break, moving spring break to the last week of February and starting fall semester on Monday, rather than Wednesday. Their intention includes aligning the trimester and semester schedules to begin, end and break at the same time.

The trimester schedule, which is used by specialized degree-completion and some online programs, consists of seven-week sessions with a one-week break between the sessions. These sessions remain separate from the traditional semester schedules used by most undergraduate and graduate programs.

“[Trimester is a] technical term that can get confused and especially can confuse your financial aid officers,” said Patricia Pike, vice provost for academic administration. “So most of our students in the undergrad programs right now and the grad programs right now are on semester schedules and they will stay on semester schedules. We’re just moving the timing of the spring semester.”


Pushing spring semester back, thus eliminating interterm, will extend summer to 15 weeks, making room for an additional full-length term. In addition to a few classes which will be offered for the full 15 weeks, two full trimesters will now fit in summer. This allows any student to attend the two seven-week classes during the summer, rather than one three-week class in January and another class in summer.

“It’s not like you’re going to be able to take any class you can take any fall [or] spring in the summer,” said Eyvette Min, assistant director of academic advising. “You probably want to think of fall and spring as your main semesters instead of thinking you can plan to do three full-time semesters.”

By having longer sessions in the summer, administration hopes to help students retain what they learn better than they would during the three-week sessions of interterm, according to Pike.

“So, say you would normally take a course in January and a course for summer session,” Pike said. “You could take both of those courses for summer session and they’d actually fit into your day and you’d actually be able to still think, which is good for learning.”


By ending the spring semester earlier, Pike and Min also expect this to benefit graduating students by getting them into the job and internship markets faster, which will allow them to compete with graduates from other universities.

“It’s probably particularly exciting for students who are planning on graduating in the spring because it means that they’ll be done with their classes and they’ll be done with their degree sooner in May and then they can start looking for jobs sooner, kind of along with others graduating from other schools,” Min said.

Spring break will also move in order to align with the break between the trimester sessions. Starting next year, spring break will always fall on the eighth week of the semester, rather than the week following Easter.

“So, that will mean that things like the last day to withdraw from classes with some kind of refund will come just at that time, just around spring break. And we’ll all get time off, which is just coming at mid-term [and] will be less tiring than if we wait for Easter,” Pike said. “But we’ll still get Good Friday off, though… Can’t be a Christian school and not take Good Friday off.”

While students have concerns regarding spring semester and vacation times, administration also took into concerns from faculty and staff regarding admissions, as well as overlapping schedules.

“[If] it doesn’t align itself, then you have to have different enrollment, different registration, you have to have different admissions processes,” Pike said. “If faculty are trying to teach in both programs, then sometimes they’re only teaching one or two classes and other times they’re teaching five or six classes. Your personnel can’t do that. So it’s [a] very expensive proposition to stagger the two kinds of programs like that.”

One of the faculty’s main concerns included a loss of instructional days, especially for classes that require additional lab classes. In order to retain instructional time, the fall semester will start on Monday, rather than on a Wednesday as in previous years.

“To fit three terms in and still have things like Thanksgiving and Christmas, Good Friday and vacations like those… you tend to start squishing the semester a little bit and then the faculty lose instructional days,” Pike said. “So to get in as many instructional days as we can, we’re starting on a Monday, and that means the week before that will be orientation week.”

Because of the earlier date, new students will now move in on Thursday, and returning students will move in on Friday. Because of the loss of a day, Student Development has also eliminated the traditional beach day.

“Something had to shift and that full day that we lost [beach day] was one of the things that we had to let go of,” said Matthew Hooper, associate dean of students. “But in many ways, we’ve tried to maintain as much as possible of the events that capture kind of like the opening weekend experience and kind of [the] ethos of Biola, and I think it’ll be a great experience even with the changes.”

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SMU announces new president-elect

After two years of only one candidate running for president, candidates for Student Missionary Union president must now submit an application and proceed with an interview process, rather than running for election.


Senior public relations major and director of administrative services Angel Jesudasen proposed the change to the elections committee in October, hoping to refine the process to better fit the role of the SMU president.

“The more and more I was a part of it, the more I realized that the way the SMU president was chosen wasn’t really being effective,” Jesudasen said. “Their sole purpose is [not] to represent the students, but more to serve the board of directors… and then they serve their staff so that their staff can serve the students.”


After submitting an application detailing their work experience and providing references, each candidate must sit through two rounds of panel interviews composed of faculty, student leaders and members of the SMU board of directors.

Each panelist will receive a pre-set rubric structured around five to 10 categories covering knowledge of SMU, leadership style and passion for diversity. Jesudasen, senior public relations major and director of marketing and communications Sarah Giovannini and director of Student Programming and Activities and Student Government Association advisor Laura Igram designed the rubric. The final rubric came from comparing over 20 rubrics from various outside schools as well as different departments across campus.

“It’s not that we don’t trust the students to make that kind of decision, because obviously we want … student input,” Giovannini said. “It’s just that it’s a different way of getting that student input that ensures more groups are being represented as opposed to just having a popular vote where some people might be discouraged from voting.”


The candidate with the highest average score will be offered the position. In the case of a tie, the current SMU president and director of administrative services will make the final decision.

Liam Timoti, senior communications major and SMU president, hopes the new process will eliminate the tendency for the most popular person to win, ultimately continue to help the organization thrive.

“This job isn’t really meant for the most popular,” Timoti said. “Not running against anybody is kind of hard. We feel the interview process helps encourage more people to want to apply and it would also be a lot more refined in getting the right person.”

Applications for president are due on Feb. 17 while panel interviews will take place Feb. 24 and Mar. 3. The final decision will be made Mar. 10, following the same timeline as the SGA elections

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Gov. Brown presents financial dilemma

Private schools across California find themselves gathering to fight against Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed budget for 2017-18, which includes cutting the Cal Grant by 11.2 percent.

$1000 CUTS

The cut comes as part of Gov. Brown’s phase-out of the middle class scholarship program and would cut an average of $1,000 from each individual grant. Although the cut would not affect students currently receiving Cal Grants, if approved, the cut would apply to incoming students for the 2017-18 academic year.

With this percentage, the state’s general funds cost will likely reduce $115.8 million by 2020. Over the course of two years, the last time the Cal Grants were considered for reduction, the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities planned for the reduction.

“Two years ago there was a proposed cut and the cut wasn’t approved but instead the Cal Grant as a whole was put on hold, on stay. That means no one could propose a cut for two years so we knew that this was coming, we just didn’t know exactly how much they were going to propose for it to be cut,” said Brenda Velasco, director of communications.

The AICCU also connected with California legislators and private institutions across the country to build a campaign in support of not cutting the Cal Grant.

“We are the center voice for independent non-profit institutions in California,” said president of AICCU Kristen Soares. “And in that capacity we represent the sector in the legislative arena and so we have a leadership role to ensure our colleges’ campuses are aware of the cut and secondly we work together to stop this cut and restore the sector.”


Shortly after the budget announcement, AICCU reached out to Biola University Communications and Marketing with help launching the campaign, “What $1,000 means to me…”, due to the fact that the cut would take approximately $1,000 from each individual grant. The campaign focuses on students’ own personal stories and testimonies of students who rely on the grant to attend the college of their choice.

“The average family income for a Cal Grant A recipient is approximately $40,000 and for a Cal Grant B family income of four the average family income is $20,000,” Soares said. “So when you think about that, a thousand dollar reduction is significant and it would harm potentially a student’s ability to continue to access an independent institution.”

UCM’s immediate response included setting up a table by the fountain to gather student signatures on a letter signed by Student Government Association president and senior business and Bible major Jessica Snow. At a hearing in Sacramento on Feb. 28, two faculty members and two students presented the letter alongside delegates and students from 25 other private colleges and universities.

Each student who attended, all current Cal Grant recipients, shared their personal stories with the legislators, hoping to personalize the detrimental effect the cut would have on thousands of students in California. The four delegates from Biola met with the two elected officials for Biola’s district and received a lot of positive feedback in support of opposing the cut, according to Velasco.

“What’s interesting about that is that [AICCU] shared with us that it’s only .0006 percent of the state budget,” Velasco said. “So this is why there has to be a lot of advocacy, a lot of student stories to share how even though for the state maybe that’s not a big amount, but for a student, $1000 is significant. It can make or break whether or not they attend the school of their choice or they’re not able to attend.”


In addition to talking to elected officials about opposing the cut, delegates also discussed supporting a bill, Assembly Bill 1166. The bill would protect the Cal Grant in the future from any cuts, by changing it to a formula calculated from a student’s GPA and annual income. However, if the bill does not go through, Biola has created a short-term solution to assist the incoming class for next year.

“We have a contingency of resources to be able to fund those students if the Cal Grant was cut in the fall,” Velasco said. “So we have a short-term solution and so if that were to happen, then we would implement the short-term solution and then work on a lot more long-term solution because we care about our students that are obviously applying and trying to enroll so we would take care of them and make sure they are still able to attend Biola.”

Future hearings will occur on March 14, which President Barry Corey will attend, and the budget will be revised again in May, before being enacted in the summer. Freshman biological science major Desmond Simmons attended the previous hearing and stressed the importance of continuing to fight against the cut.

“It gives us the choice of choosing public versus private,” Simmons said. “So raising awareness of not cutting that because it’s literally what’s bringing kids to school and for them to make a better future for them and their community so if we cut that, less people are going to a school of their choice and then less people are in the workforce… So I feel like it’s such a big part of what’s bringing up this next generation. We can’t just cut it.”

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UCM petitions Gov. Brown’s budget

University Communications and Marketing set up a booth on Feb. 21-23 to petition against cutting the Cal Grant for low-income students.

Upon presenting the budget for the upcoming fiscal year on Jan. 10, Gov. Jerry Brown proposed cutting the maximum Cal Grant award by 11.2 percent, or about $1,028. Although the cut should not affect students currently receiving the Cal Grant, it could cause stress and limitations for future incoming students if passed.

“It could potentially affect anyone getting the Cal Grant,” said Monica Kochan, junior journalism major. “And the reason it could affect them is it could limit them in the number of hours they’re taking… and it could also prohibit them from pursuing a higher education.”

The Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities reached out to UCM last week to join the “What $1,000 means to me…” campaign. UCM has collected approximately 95 signatures from the Biola community, primarily students, at the booth this week and plan to send two staff members and two students to a hearing on Feb. 28 with the signatures to show how this change will negatively impact students and their ability to pursue an education.

“Basically we’re here to inform students and also to collect student support in petition of Gov. Jerry Brown,” Kochan said.

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