The University of Indianapolis is home to many different cultures from across the world. With many different ideologies on campus, it is easy to get caught up in one’s own beliefs instead of learning more about the beliefs of others. UIndy Interfaith tries to avoid that by providing programming that brings diverse people together.
Junior sociology and philosophy major Zak Mitiche and sophomore community health education major Mallory Traver are tackling these issues head on.
“The first thing [component of Interfaith] is breaking down boundaries of ignorance,” Mitiche said. “People with different philosophies and religions coming together and learning about how other people approach life.”
Although UIndy has had an interfaith program before, the program has been completely restructured to be more inclusive and more informational for everyone.
“We have set Interfaith up into two forms. The first is membership, where everyday students can get involved,” Traver said. “They [students] can come to meetings, learn, educate themselves, help out around the university. The other is the council side, which will consist of RSO [Registered Student Organization] leaders involved in cultural, religious, and social justice issues. We have been getting a lot of people in one place just to say you are different than me, [and]that’s ok. Let’s sit down, talk about what we have in common and work on making a difference.”
The pair wanted to be explicitly clear that the group was not established to convert people to any certain pattern of beliefs but instead to bring them all together to help bring down barriers that society has put around them. The group is not at all afraid to tackle controversial issues. Mitiche explained that one of the topics that the group will be facing is the Israel/Palestine situation.
“One of the downfalls of other interfaith groups is that it [the group] can turn into people just getting together and patting themselves on the back,” Mitiche said. “Our goal is to address the hardest, most controversial, an most important questions, and we think it [Israel/Palestine] is one of them.”
The group is not limited to any certain groups or systems of beliefs. Both Traver and Mitiche expressed that the group was not built only for major religions. It encourages people from all faith background to attend, but they do not even limit the group there. They also hope to have atheists, agnostics, humanist and other non-religious followers to attend as well, because they believe that in such talks that these people often are excluded.
Traver and Mitiche have high expectations for the group. They want UIndy Interfaith to be a group where real growth can happen among all the members who attend meetings. They also hope that this can help spread knowledge and understanding across barriers, to educate the entire campus. The team believes that they have all of the necessary tools to make significant changes on campus.
Although the group does not yet have a calendar of events set, Traver and Mitiche said that anyone seeking information about interfaith or the programs that it offers can go to the Ecumenical and Interfaith Programs office located in the Schwitzer Student Center. Anyone interested also can follow them at UIndy Interfaith on Facebook.