This week I’ve been working on an article about religion and diversity on our campus. Something I was interested in learning about while exploring this topic is what things stand in the way of creating an entirely accepting and diverse environment on a college campus. It surprised me that both Chaplain Jan Fuller and Lynn Huber, associate professor of religious studies, had the same answer to this question.
Both expressed that one of the biggest barriers to conquering discomfort with diversity is fear of conflict. According to Huber and Fuller, students and faculty sometimes hesitate to discuss matters of religious diversity because they are worried about saying the wrong thing. People are so worried about saying something that sounds stupid or offensive, that they often won’t ask questions or address their own misunderstandings about other people’s religions.
I think that Fuller was spot on when she said that we need to put our fear of conflict aside and be open to discussing other religions as well as our own. This is the only way that we can take advantage of the diversity that does exist on campus, learn from each other’s differences and discover our similarities.