Faiths come together at dinner

    About 130 members of the UCSD and San Diego communities attended the first event of the newly formed Unified Campus Coalition on Wednesday, Jan. 30.

    Lyon Liew
    Guardian

    The dinner titled “”A Religious Experience”” was sponsored by the Student Office for Human Relations. It presented student and featured speakers representing many religions, including Hinduism, Catholicism, Non-Denominational Christianity, Judaism, Sikhism, Islam, Mormonism, Baha’i and Protestant Christianity.

    For $5, participants were allowed to interact with one another during the dinner. Later, student speakers presented their thoughts on what it was like to be a student of faith.

    Saannand Seethe shared his thoughts about being a Sikh. He explained the significance of his turban as well as other aspects of his religion.

    Dana Chilton discussed his struggle being gay and Christian. He elaborated on being labeled too conservative to fit in with the homosexual community while being ostracized as too liberal for the Christian community. He also talked about how his love of God saved him from seriously considering suicide during his teen years.

    Following the student speakers was an intermission, when everyone was encouraged to eat and interact. Afterward student speakers joined featured speakers Father Mark Padre, Rabbi Yeruchem Eilfort, Pasteur Kenneth Anderson and Ajay Shah for a question-and-answer session with the audience.

    The questions asked were first screened by the UCC to exclude any questions deemed too inflammatory. They ranged from what the distinctions were between each religion’s particular god, whether religious teachings should begin in elementary school, and the origins of evil.

    In response to the lack of certain groups from the panel, such as atheists and agnostics, co-chair of the UCC Nema Milaninia said every speaker was there on a voluntary basis and that time restraints prevented securing representation from every faith on campus. He said that for the UCC’s first event, he wanted to address a specific issue that he felt atheists or agnostics were not relevant to: religious conflict between organized religions.

    According to Milaninia, the UCC encourages people as ideologically diverse as possible to participate. In addition, he said future events would try to include any beliefs that may not have been represented in the first event.

    Some people in attendance questioned the effectiveness of UCC’s first event.

    Bettina Loh, a Roosevelt junior, said it was difficult organizing people on campus and was curious how successful the UCC would be in doing the same thing.

    “”I’m a Christian and it’s hard enough getting Christians together,”” Loh said. “”I’m wondering how they’re going to bring everyone together but hopefully it’ll work out.””

    The organization was created late last year by Jewish student Brian Brook and Milaninia, a Muslim student, along with John Quenzer, a Christian. UCC formed in response to Anti-Zionism Week and later the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

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