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Mace & Crown | August 19, 2017

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President's Task Force Discusses Religion and Unity

Jade Dixon | Contributing Writer

The President’s Task Force held a discussion April 12 about unity and faith focusing on how it impacts campus life, how it is seen being practiced and personal experiences with religion and faith.

Denisse Thillet and Bethane Dickie, members of the President’s Task Force, led a discussion on how to bring students and faculty of different backgrounds together. In addition to uncovering religious experiences on campus, they also wanted to know how religion and faith play out on campus and how it relates to unity from a student’s perspective.

Rather than lecture, Thillet allowed the students to interact in engaging conversation while she facilitated discussion questions.

“When you hear the word faith and religion, what are some things that come to mind and are there any differences or similarities between religion and faith?”

“When I think of religion, I think of going to church then going home but when it comes to faith, and I think I realized this through college, it was really a personal connection to God. I always felt church was a chore,” senior Carla Medrano said.

Everyone has a choice on whether they want to practice a certain religion and how they want to practice it. There are student organizations that actively promote bible studies, prayer events and other gatherings for students who do not feel or think the same way about religion as others do.

Some students felt being religious and practicing faith on a daily basis is an obligation, whereas others simply do it when it is deemed necessary.

The discussion also went in depth about what experiences influenced students to feel a certain way towards religion and how they practiced it. The main similarity in answers was that most were forced into religion by family members as they grew up, leading them to feel they now have the right to practice however they please.

“I do not feel like I have to go to church to practice my religion. I feel disconnected from church because I was forced to practice it instead of having a choice because it was not something I was willing to do and something I was put in,” Medrano said.

One of the main discussion points was how people act and think about students who practice religion on campus. The common stereotypes mentioned included the belief that religious students do not have fun since they read the bible daily or they are always forcing people to think as they do. Because of these stereotypes, many students who do not follow a religion believed it makes it very hard for students to coexist on campus.

Thillet then challenged the conversation. “Do students who openly practice religion on campus create a clash on campus impacting unity?”

“Yes, I actually had an experience where I was called a sinner because I did not want to think the way they wanted me to,” Rodolfo Monteroso said.

Unity is a huge part of campus life and when it comes to religion, clashes can take place causing difficulty in creating unity among non-religious and religious students.

Towards the end of the discussion, the President’s Task Force asked students to write down what they would do to promote unity on campus. This was to help gain insight to what students need from university administration in effectively promoting unity among students, faculty and staff.

“We really appreciate you all coming helping because now we can get a feel of what students think about the atmosphere on campus and what we need to do to help you all promote unity,” Dickie said.