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The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Explore Better Together connects students of different faiths


UA Crossroads and UA Better Together hosted a discussion to connect students with various religious and secular beliefs on Tuesday night in the Ferguson Center Great Hall. 

The event, called Explore Better Together, allowed students to experience “speed faithing,” where students alternated between different tables set up for various beliefs and representatives of different faiths would give students a brief summary of their religious or secular beliefs and traditions. Some of the beliefs represented were Judaism, Mormonism, Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam, Hinduism and Secularism.  

Jessika Banks, a graduate research assistant for UA Crossroads, said that this event is meant to promote education and celebration of different faiths and beliefs, religious or not. 

“Better Together really is just a meeting of interfaith cooperation,” Banks said. “The concept of Better Together is something that’s important to religious and nonreligious backgrounds. It’s a really important endeavor to foster a sense of community here for all students.” 

Banks also said that while Better Together events can help educate students about different cultures, they also allow international students an environment where they can share and celebrate their faiths and beliefs. 

Parnab Das, an environmental engineering major and president of the Indian Students Association of Tuscaloosa, said that Better Together is a valuable asset for international students to be able to maintain their culture and faith while far from home. 

“As international students, we do face some challenges when coming to the United States with different religions, different cultures, languages and foods,” Das said. “So I think a good exchange of dialogue gives us a lot of courage and strength to sustain ourselves in the United States with American life.” 

Alison Farrar, a senior physics major and president of the International Students Association, said that the event provided her with the chance to openly ask Das about his faith and his culture in a safe setting. 

“It was good to be able to talk to [Das] about his faith,” Farrar said. “We’ve been friends for a year and I’ve never really asked him ‘what do you believe’ or ‘how do you practice what you believe’ and I’m glad that this event made that possible.” 

Farrar also said she appreciated that the faiths represented at the event are all associated with groups on campus, so students can better access these groups nearby. 

Lane McLelland, director of UA Crossroads, said that this is the third Explore Better Together event that they have hosted and that the goal of the event is to explore different ideas in an open setting. 

“This is something that we started about four years ago to improve interfaith relationships on campus, so this is just one of our events,” McLelland said. “In the fall, we go out and do community service activities together and then come back to campus to have a small dialogue about how our values are the same in terms of service for the community and for the common good.” 

UA Better Together’s next event, called “Serve Better Together,” is on Nov. 11 and will help repaint and landscape the groups at Crestmont Elementary School in Northport. Students interested in learning more about Better Together can find them on Facebook or Twitter.

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