About the "Adventist" part

Eliezer Roque Cisneros


Coming to Union College, I expected little. I thought Adventist education would be more spiritually inclined—perhaps more prayer in the classroom. I imagined all professors would point the class toward a spiritual perspective on daily subject matters.

I looked forward to eating food that would remind me the Adventist health message was still relevant. Also, while I didn’t assume I would turn the corner and find a Bible study everywhere I went, I certainly expected to hear my peers discuss spirituality at a constructive level.

I imagined campus ministries to be engaged in (if not passionate about) evangelism. I presumed the Adventist church near campus would make full use of the talented young men and women in evangelistic meetings and revival weekends.

I even started writing sermons for a series thinking somewhere down the line the religion/theology students would be asked to step up.

And speaking of the religion department, I was nervously expecting to meet theology majors who really knew their Bibles far better than I or who at least had committed the fundamental beliefs to memory.

Finally, I would be amongst God’s children. I was hopeful.

I thought my expectations were rather small, but as I settled into the Union family, I started to wonder if I had expected too much.

I’ve come to realize today that, at least to the observable majority of student body, being at an Adventist college means nothing. At least, not the “Adventist” part.

One of the first dissonances that became obvious to me was the open use of profanity in the dorms. I lived in Prescott my freshman year, and though I was expecting to hear cussing and chauvinistic language among young Christian men, I was not prepared to feel so … well … at home.

Swearing is the lesser of evils in the grand scheme of things, but more and more I noticed echoes of what public school was like.

I’ve been asked why I don’t play videogames on Friday nights, why I carry my Bible with me and why I'm playing piano hymns through my computer speakers if it's not the Sabbath yet. These and others are the same questions I was asked when I went to public school.

I’d like to say that at least I don't have to explain my Sabbath observance around here, but even that's a gray area.

As students, we carry the name Adventist, but we seem hesitant to define the term. We are far too comfortable, allowing ourselves to think the institution will define what we are. We are not all that willing to make Adventism a part of our lifestyles unless it's imposed upon us by the rules of the school.

Think. If eating meat was an option at the caf, people would eat it (I would sometimes). If Coopers were open Saturday, people would be there. If Bible classes weren't required, some of us would make no effort in taking any.

The rhetorical naysayers already protest, "This issue doesn't matter." But Union family, yes it does. Adventist education is no small financial endeavor. Those who went to academy, or any private school can attest—it's not cheap.

What are we paying for if we are here for more than the classes? What does Union offer that others don't? Is it the separate-gender housing? Is it the new facilities over in the Kruger Center? What are we investing in here?

It's time we start wondering, if we haven't already.

What “about” that Adventist part?

Eliezer Roque Cisneros is a junior theology major.