New group seeks to start interfaith dialogue

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By Jacqueline Hyman, opinion editor, @jacqbh58

Live the Questions meet every other Thursday night at 7:30 in the MICA Lounge of the Stamp. Photo courtesy of MICA.

Live the Questions meet every other Thursday night at 7:30 in the MICA Lounge of the Stamp. Photo courtesy of MICA.

The university’s Office of Multicultural Involvement & Community Advocacy introduced a new club this semester called Live the Questions, which focuses on interfaith discussions between students.

Jennifer Olson, the graduate coordinator for interfaith programs and spiritual diversity, provides the space, time and refreshments for the meetings. While working with interfaith programs at this university, she learned that students wanted a club in which they could discuss religion freely. And after the first group’s first meeting on Feb. 5, Olson said she feels confident that participants enjoyed the topics at hand.

“They seemed very enthusiastic and even afterwards, after it ended, people were still talking about the ideas they wanted to discuss,” Olson said.

The club aims to be a safe space where students can discuss topics including religion, spirituality, science and more, confidentially and without judgment. Students from various backgrounds participated, Olson said.

There are organizations on campus that focus on particular faiths or identities, but Live the Questions is unique in that it is a multi-faith, nonaffiliated group, said Olson, who works both in the Memorial Chapel and for MICA.

Students who attended meetings felt positively about the atmosphere of the group.

“The people who were there seemed to be really open-minded,” sophomore Jewish studies major Alexandra Lewyn said. “Everybody seemed really interested in what each other had to say and [was] very committed to being respectful.”

Olson, a practicing Muslim, said she hopes students will feel comfortable starting discussions that may not be easy to bring up in class and that the club will provide a place on the campus where they can talk about questions they have, such what it means to be human and the intersectionality between science and religion.

“I think it’ll help them grow in terms of meeting perspectives that might challenge their worldview or make them consider more deeply their own beliefs,” she said.

Lewyn said a group like this is helpful in connecting people to others of different backgrounds.

“It’s really, really important for there to be empathy and understanding and to be able to express that in a positive dialogue format,” Lewyn said.

Senior materials science and engineering major Matthew Rice, an interfaith representative for the Catholic Student Center, said the meeting was refreshing because all the people there wanted to discuss the topics. He said he participated in similar groups that existed in the past.

“I always find it helpful to have my beliefs challenged since it helps me to pin down exactly what I believe,” he wrote in an email.

Junior bioengineering and economics major Emily Horton, another interfaith leader for the Catholic Student Center, said she plans to help lead future Live the Questions discussions. She said it is a good way to meet people and a chance to step away from everyday life.

“The idea behind the name ‘Live the Questions’ is that it’s okay not to have everything figured out,” Horton wrote in an email. “There’s beauty and meaning in asking the big questions in life, and we can help each other along the way as we try to answer them.”

Live the Questions meets every other Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the MICA Lounge in the Stamp Student Union.

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