By Eman Sahloul
Benedictine University has been proudly acclaimed to be one of the most diverse campuses in Illinois, with an arm full of new ethnic, racial and religious backgrounds spilling in every year. Although the university remains guided by Roman Catholic tradition, it readily welcomes the large population of Hindus, Muslims, and different sects of Catholicism on campus.
Of the 10,000 students whom apply, 2,000 have designated their religious preference. Of those 2,000, 54% self identified as Catholic, 25% as protestant, 15% as Muslim, 3% as Hindu and 3% as Other. These statistics don’t mention the fact that even within each religious group, there’s an immense amount of ethnic and racial variation. The very fact that such a large amount of different backgrounds continue to flood into BenU reflects the idea that various traditions can indeed blend together- or so it seems from the outside.
Many students would probably agree that when entering the library, dormitories, Krasa, or even classrooms, people of the same religion, ethnicity, or race tend to migrate all together and isolate themselves from all other ethnic, religious, racial groups. Yes, there’s the occasional mosaic that appears when a project is assigned or that one genius chemistry student who’s asked to tutor a group of other students.
We’ll be honest. When we started thinking about diversity, we realized that if the Candor had not brought us all together, many of us wouldn’t have hung out or even met for that matter- and we see this as a problem.
In an article President Carroll once wrote, he suggests a question that should be more reflected upon by both students and faculty members: Do we always respect people who look different, who have different cultural backgrounds or who seem committed to needs different than ours?
Would we really have taken the time to get to know someone outside of our little social circle of Muslims or Hindus or Arabs or Mexicans if it wasn’t necessary for class?
How many students can honestly say that they’ve seen a mixed group of students eating together at Coal Ben? Not many.
For such a multifaceted campus, we have very little to show for it.
Yes, we’re diverse, but that doesn’t always translate to unity, to acceptance, to integration. As educated, open-minded students in the 21st century, as America’s future foundation, we should be able to celebrate our cultures, our ethnicity, our religious differences and strengths. Doing so not only establishes bonds between different people but in turn empowers the understanding you have of your own religion, culture, or race.
It is mentioned in the Bible that God comes to us in the guise of a stranger. Many have understood that stranger to be someone who is unlike you, whether religiously, racially, or ethnically. In order for us to fully grasp those words, it’s important, even necessary, that we apply them in our own lives.
If you believe in God, then to accept him, is to accept others no matter how different they are from you. And if you don’t believe in God, then you will still equally find the beauty in meeting and integrating with people who are completely different from you.
The Candor staff encourages every student to meet someone new- a stranger. You never know. You might find yourself making a new best friend.