Campus Crusade for Christ strives for respectful dialogue

By Jennifer Wheeler

With a University of about 40,000 students, diversity pumps through the heart of the campus, challenging others to question their own beliefs as well as others’.

That occasionally results in disputes, but some groups across campus are working toward rebuilding these burned bridges.This article contains corrected material, published Feb. 17, 2009.

With a University of about 40,000 students, diversity pumps through the heart of the campus, challenging others to question their own beliefs as well as others’.

That occasionally results in disputes, but some groups across campus are working toward rebuilding these burned bridges.

Registered Student Organization Campus Crusade for Christ, more commonly called Cru, has set up panel discussions with LGBT Resources, the Hillel Center for Jewish Life, the Muslim Students Association, and Atheists, Agnostics and Freethinkers to allow groups that don’t often cross paths to interact.

“A lot of people have stereotypes about what other people believe, and if we all just talked about it together, then you could understand where they’re coming from,” said Sarah Koscielski, a freshman in LAS and a member of Cru.

The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday at 7 p.m. in 141 Loomis Hall.

Each meeting will consist of two organizations posing five questions to each association’s panel, said Steve Elworth, a senior leader in Cru and senior in Business. The questions will be known to each group at least one week in advance. Then, at the discussion, each group will be given a specified amount of time to answer the question. The group that posed the question may then give a short reply, probably under one minute in length.

The panel discussions also promote audience interactions, Elworth said. Audience members will be allowed to text their question submissions, which will be reviewed by an individual from each organization, and proposed to the panels following the question and answer time period.

“Our two goals are that we first want to form relationships with each other,” Elworth said. “Second, we want to learn more about each other.”

The first panel discussion held by Cru was with the Atheists, Agnostics and Freethinkers organization last year. Since the discussion last year, the two groups have co-sponsored two blood drives together, Elworth said.

Jessica Facker, a senior in ACES and a member of Cru, said she attended the event and was happy that “college students desire to talk about deep issues; not just what they did this weekend or what they had for lunch yesterday.”

She said that almost the entire room was filled at last year’s panel discussion. Between 300 and 400 people attended.

But when organizations begin to question other’s ideals, there is always the possibility that hostile situations may occur.

“It’s a risk we are willing to take, or else nobody will ever talk,” Elworth said.

He also added that he hopes individuals interested in disrupting the meeting will realize that the two groups wish to discuss their ideals peacefully, in a non-threatening situation.

“We want people to talk and not be in our own bubbles,” Elworth said. “We want to get to know each other.”