President Obama is encouraging institutions of higher education to make the vision for interfaith cooperation and community service a reality on campuses across the country. As a result, Saint Louis University is participating in the President's Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge, a White House initiative inviting institutions of higher education to commit to interfaith cooperation and community service programming on campus. The initiative is to build understanding among diverse communities and contribute to the common good.
During the summer, Leah Sweetman, Ph.D., an assistant director in the Center for Service and Community Engagement, along with SLU student Adriana Black, participated in a White House convening that officially launched the national program.
Commenting on the challenge, Black expressed, "What I strive for and want to see on SLU's campus is an inclusive community. Fact of the matter is that the United States has more volunteers through faith-based organizations than any other type of charity organizations in the nation. Faith and spirituality merged with community service are bound to bring people together. At least while engaged in working for one common cause, all differences will be set apart and lead to a truly more united student body."
According to Ray Quirolgico, Ed.D., assistant vice president for Student Development, it is important to participate in this challenge because "SLU already has commitments to engaging diversity in all forms, including interfaith conversations, awareness, dialogue, and meaning. The commitments to interfaith skills and a service orientation are evident in academic programs, faculty research agendas and course curricula, in co-curricular student opportunities, in our leadership development programs, in our Code of Student Conduct, and in the SGA Oath of Inclusion.
"Quite frankly, this is a learning environment that manifests interfaith identity and service to others, so we are using our participation in this challenge to further develop and strengthen some of our signature programs and experiences, cultivate new community partnerships, and further advance all the ways in which we achieve the mission of Saint Louis University to change the world," Quirolgico continued.
Interfaith service involves people from different religious and non-religious backgrounds tackling community challenges together. The SLU program, Interfaith Challenge: Empowering Humanity through Education and Service, aims to increase awareness and participation for the many interfaith and service events occurring on campus, as well as to enhance the connections among them. For more information, visit the Center for Service and Community Engagement website. The website includes a calendar of events that are a part of the Interfaith Challenge.