Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Interfaith suite ready to advertise for 2008

After almost a year of brainstorming, planning and organizing, Elana Stone and Adam Kirtley are ready to start advertising the Interfaith Living Community, which will hopefully debut in Douglas Hall next fall.

The Interfaith Living Community is modeled after the Interest Houses. Eight students from different religious disciplines will live together in a Douglas suite with goals of fostering interfaith dialogue and defining common backgrounds.

Kirtley, the Stuart Coordinator of Religious and Spiritual Life, said the idea was generated from students who spoke with him about having a spirituality-focused living community.

“At first we were thinking about creating an interest house, but it became clear that a smaller area would be more realistic,” said Kirtley. “Douglas soon emerged as a good placement.”

Stone, the Resident Director for College House, Marcus House and Douglas, said that the Interfaith suite would remain part of the Douglas community.

“They’ll have the same expectations as other Douglas residents,” said Stone. “Unlike the interest houses, they won’t have their own R.A.: they’ll work directly with Adam for events and programs.”

Kirtley and Stone envision four expectations for the Interfaith Living Community. Interfaith dialogue among suitemates will assist students to introduce their faith to the other members of the community, through both conversations and planned activities and meals.

Secondly, education will extend this learning to the broader Whitman community. Suite members will also participate in service projects.

The last objective of the suite is spiritual practice, which is “very loosely defined,” according to Kirtley.

“The living community is not all about practicing religion,” said Stone. “It’s about raising awareness of religious and spiritual diversity through interfaith dialogue. It will have to be a religiously diverse group of students.”

Last semester, Kirtley and Stone conducted an anonymous survey through surveymonkey.com to evaluate student interest in an interfaith community.

“We had 130 responses, which was very impressive,” said Kirtley. “The majority were supportive.”

“A lot of students were worried because Whitman is a secular college,” said Stone. “We knew we would have to address this with sensitivity to have the best effect.”

“The survey revealed that most students didn’t have a problem with the idea, but with the way it was communicated,” said Kirtley. “We had been tentatively calling it the Spirituality Suite, but at this point we changed it to the Interfaith Living Community: the interfaith element is key.”

Applications for the interfaith community will be available at Memorial 113 on Feb. 25 and will be accepted until March 7, along with the IHC applications. Depending on applicant response, the community could be postponed.

“This is still a work in progress,” said Stone. “The first students to live in the suite will be instrumental to shaping it: to make it dynamic.”

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