Westmont Magazine A Call to Action
Shortly after an early-morning phone call to her father alerted her to the events of Sept. 11, WCSA President Megan Shrader ’02 took action. She sensed that students needed to respond right away to the unfolding tragedy. Unable to reach college President Stan Gaede and Campus Pastor Ben Patterson immediately, she sent an all-campus voice mail to let students know they could gather in Kerr Student Center to pray. Fifteen minutes later, more than 35 students appeared, and President Gaede soon called her to his office.
Megan admits she was navigating uncharted waters in responding to the tragedy. She knew the campus would want and need to lean on their faith, begin the grieving process and show support for America, but she wasn’t sure the best way to do that. Rather than wait, she took action.
“I called a few of my friends from colleges around the country to see what they were organizing. Everyone just wanted to talk. I also met with Christian Concerns co-leaders Abby Diepenbrock and Jake Reid.”
That brainstorming led the students to plan a memorial service co-hosted by WCSA and Christian Concerns. Hundreds turned out Sept. 13 to honor the victims. The service included singing, praying and planting a tree to symbolize universal suffering and the everlasting hope we have in Jesus. Other ongoing efforts include a fund-raising drive, two blood drives, and letters of encouragement to New York firefighters. WCSA hung a large bed sheet in the dining commons, asked students to sign it, and mailed it to Mayor Giuliani.
As Megan notes, “While the events themselves were unbearably tragic, so much good and progress have come out of this situation. We have renewed our commitment to prayer, not just for our world, but that we may be a generation that will step up and be a light. We are entering a new world now, and we need to use this time at Westmont to prepare ourselves to fight the battle for Christ.
“The spirit of unity I have seen at Westmont has been absolutely incredible,” she adds. “Christian Concerns and WCSA previously didn’t have much interaction or communication. Since partnering up for the service and various drives, we are realizing how similar our missions are and how much we can support and utilize one another.
“From those brief phone calls to other colleges we are now discussing bringing all the student body presidents of Christian schools up to Westmont once a year to share ideas and visions. I have seen such camaraderie from students, and even within our WCSA. We have had to re-focus what our positions as student leaders are. I think we all realized there is so much more we could be doing. How can we be serving this world when there isn’t a crisis?”
Megan also shared that faculty and staff at Westmont were instrumental in giving students a way to work through the tragedy.
“The Westmont faculty are amazing. Not only did they impart much wisdom and advice to us, but they also agreed it was OK to disagree on how the U.S. should retaliate. This has allowed us to form our own opinions and taught us that it is OK to dialog about these opinions and be challenged and feel uncomfortable.”
Megan sent a letter to the student body in November updating them on the various ways Westmont responded and giving them an opportunity to suggest ways they can continue to show support and shine their faith.
“I work with great people who had great ideas and huge hearts. Many people gave their time and energy to organize two blood drives, send encouraging cards to the firefighters, and raise money for the American Red Cross. This has been such a team effort. I am certainly blessed to be a part of such a great team.”
Threats of terrorist retaliation don’t concern Megan. “As Christians, we have a direct phone line to a source not even Bin Laden can harm, and we should use it.”