October 29, 2010
The Apples to Apples Jewish Edition box was unopened and the Scrabble Board sat untouched in the Center for Spiritual Life on Tuesday evening. Only four students were in attendance at the Hillel and Muslim Student Association or MSA Milk and Cookies Game Night. The turnout for events held for Hillel and MSA have been low despite the recent recognition of these groups by the DePauw Student Government. The Spiritual Life Director, Kate Smanik, says on average only about twelve to fifteen students attend the minority religious group activities. Bilal Sadiq, a first-year MSA member, says he does not regularly attend meetings.
The lack of attendance at Game Night resulted in an unexpected shift in conversation. The students took the time to discuss the issues they face drawing their peers to events. They believe inclusion in Student Government was a necessary step to create a presence on campus. Now the four students want the groups to reach out to all religious and nonreligious communities. One idea was to stop hosting small events. Rather three large events could become annual festivals for the whole campus during religious holidays in the Jewish and Muslim faiths.
Smanik says the efforts by Hillel and MSA are not the only conversations about changing spiritual life on campus. She believes the Center for Spiritual Life must establish a presence on campus before student groups can expect to see growth. What exactly that presence will be is a work in progress. Smanik says the Center needs to be working at full power to create a clear mission. She says that it will take time for the Center to move through the restructuring process. The small number of students active in Hillel and MSA are opening discussion to find ways to work together to build a presence on DePauw’s campus. The game like Scrabble can wait.