Students to share religious perspectives at panel

By Josey Montana McCoy

Diversity Dialogues is shifting away from race for tonight’s program and focusing instead on a difference among students that is not as visible.

Tonight’s panel, “Religious Diversity,” will cover topics such as gender and religion, religious dialogue within the community and stereotypes about religions from Catholic, Church of Christ, Jewish and Muslim perspectives. It will be in room 230 of the Student Center at 7.

One student from each of those religious communities will represent his or her faith.

The panelists will describe their religious perspectives, said panel moderator Mehmet Saracoglu, a mining engineering doctoral student and president of UK’s Interfaith Dialogue Organization.

“We can talk about similarities and we can talk about the differences, but what we must talk about is how we can live together in a diverse community at UK,” he said.

A 15-minute question-and-answer session will follow the description of each religion.

It is important to recognize faith and religion as cultural differences at UK, said Mahjabeen Rafiuddin, the director of UK student diversity engagement, especially because diversity issues on campus are usually thought of as black and white.

“While we do acknowledge (racial diversity) and have that, we also want to add to that other diversity issues to get out of that mentality,” she said.

Corey Kline, a political science senior who will represent Judaism at the forum, said she has been to other diversity dialogues at UK and hopes this dialogue goes over just as well as others have.

“We’ve come a long way as far as tolerance for other religions in the United States,” Kline said. “But there are still many ideas and opinions to be heard. I think it’s a good opportunity to do that and a good setting.”

Faculty members should encourage students to go to diversity dialogues so they can bring information from the dialogues into the classroom, Rafiuddin said.

“Students can apply the knowledge from diversity dialogues to the books,” she said. “That’s the goal.”

Diversity Dialogues will continue next semester in the small ballroom with discussions on Appalachian culture, tension between Latinos and blacks, bi-racial and multiracial experiences, gays and bisexuals, and people who have disabilities.