Interfaith commission hosts meet and greet

By Mikah Walker

DeKALB — The holidays are right around the corner, and most of the holiday meet and greet event hosted Tuesday by the Presidential Commission on Interfaith Initiatives afternoon was spent sharing holiday tradition stories from each attendee in Altgeld Hall.

Each story shared had pieces of how its teller’s own faith is celebrated not only for the holidays but in general as well.

Some of the childhood holiday traditions discussed were about decorating trees, listening to holiday music and waking up at 3 a.m. to open presents and then sleeping for the rest of the day.

One member of the commission spoke about how their family celebrates the holidays by giving money to charity. Other stories were told about how some of the attendees’ personal belief systems played a role during the holidays. For example, those who had more than one religion in their family said they had to find a way to combine traditions.

The Presidential Commission on Interfaith Initiatives is the primary adviser to President Lisa Freeman on issues related to the diversity of all belief and faith systems presented at NIU.

“Myself and others on the commission want to make sure we create an inclusive environment on campus for people with all belief systems,” Andrew Pemberton, chair of the Presidential Commission on Interfaith Initiatives, said.

Interfaith describes the interaction between people of different religions or faith traditions, according to the United Religions Initiative website.

“I bring my faith into the commission by being non judgmental,” Monique Bernoudy, assistant vice president of Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion said. “Many belief systems have opened my eyes spiritually when I learned about each of them.”

Every year the commission sets goals to address issues at NIU that impact the variety of belief systems practiced by members of the university community. One goal is to bring more people into the commission and learn about other commissions offered.

As the only student who attended the meet and greet, Sarah Bridgeforth, a senior majoring in rehab disability and philosophy, said she loved the activity of storytelling and meeting everyone.

She said she wanted more discussion of belief at the event.

“I wish there was more emphasis on faith when everyone told their stories,” Bridgeforth said. “I was only contacted because my adviser to my club told me about the meet and greet. Adding an extra thirty minutes to explain what the commission is would have been great too.”