As a part of Civility Week, a student interfaith panel was held in Rogers-Stout Hall March 27. The six students represented different religions, and they discussed different parts of their faith.
“The diversity educators felt a need to put this on during Civility Week because people don’t talk enough about religion on campus,” said Amber Rookstool, panel moderator. “The biggest goal is to create dialogue, to get people asking questions even if they feel uncomfortable asking them. If they might not know the right way to ask a question, this is where they learn.”
The students participating in the panel represented religions such as Christianity, Hinduism and Islam. The discussion consisted of five questions, one of which included how professors or teachers created an open environment for students.
“Personally Dr. Brown, an Anatomy and Physiology teacher at ETSU … came up to me and said, ‘I’ve met a lot of Indians, so if you’re Hindu, tell me more about it,'” panel member Nischal Patel said. “He was interested in wanting to learn more, so obviously I went up and told him after class. I think that’s a great way to earn the trust of students. If you ask them something that’s a part of them … I think that’s a great way to gain the trust of students.”
Other panelist talked about how professors had not created an open environment.
“I did have one teacher on the other hand who did not just believe that his belief system was the only one but also believed that you were only correct if you agreed with him in his specific way,” panelist Clara Reynolds said. “And he decided that everyone in his class should feel exactly how he feels and should 100 percent agree with him. I didn’t like that class. It wasn’t a good way for him to show others his opinions.”
Rookstool said that everyone in attendance respected everyone’s views, and this allowed for a smooth dialogue between panelists and audience members.
“I hope that they got a good view of the diversity that’s on campus,” Rookstool said. “As well as pointers on how to conduct a better dialogue as well.”