The CENTER4ME hosts its first forum of the semester on immigration, patriotism, and Christianity
“Are DREAMers considered Americans,” “Are open borders a realistic concept,” and “How do we make the issue of immigration one of justice and fair policy rather than an issue of race?”
These questions among others evoked culturally candid conversation between like-minded students on the topics of immigration, patriotism, and Christianity during Liberty University’s Center for Multicultural Enrichment’s Diversity, Integration, Reconciliation, and Transition (D.I.R.T) talk on Tuesday, September 19.
A big part of what the (Center4Me) does for Liberty University students is educating and cultivating cultural awareness through events that facilitate dialogues on societal topics.
Jose Hernandez, associate director for the Center4ME, stressed the importance of facilitating dialogues such as this in hopes of fostering community, conversation, and awareness.
“We decided that our conversational approach would be a little different,” Hernandez said. We thought: “what if we get students that have at least some sense of like-mindedness in which they could use each other’s vocabulary to help gage these reflective questions amongst themselves in hopes of challenging our extreme biases within ourselves and to hopefully create something that is balanced.”
The 110 students that were in attendance were not put against each other but instead provided a safe space to share likeminded mindsets on said topics. In which students were placed into similar groups based on their perspectives regarding the issue of immigration.
Melany Pearl, executive director for the Center4ME, believes that students should continuously seek to be educated and aware of not just social injustices but perspectives outside of their own.
“It is important to evoke candid conversations, especially on matters of race relations and cultural diversity,” Pearl said.
“Even if a student feels a topic like immigration does not directly affect them, it is important for students to be knowledgeable about what is happening in the world and to be able to have an informed conversation.”
Diversity plagued the atmosphere as students in attendance ranged from international to domestic, each student was vocal about their personal convictions, challenges, and approach on the topic of immigration.
Malcolm Foster, who was in attendance understood the importance of challenging personal biases and educating one’s self on said topics.
“Immigration, patriotism, and Christianity – are in more conflict with one another than ever before,” Foster said.
“Or at least in our lifetime, especially with what our country has endured over the past 15-20 years. Therefore, it was important for me to be a part of the dialogue to hear how others are trying to understand and respond to these surfacing struggles as fellow believers.”
The event ended with a focus on justice and mercy. During this session, each student was given a copy of the Southern Baptist Convention Resolution on Immigration and the Gospel (2011) which fostered a conversation on how the church should respond to the issue of immigration.
Pearl also hopes that through these events students will feel heard, understood, and ultimately educated on social issues.
“It is my hope that the Center for Multicultural Enrichment influences the campus in such a way that students are not afraid to share perspectives on topics that are important to them – that every Liberty University student feels and knows that they are a valued part of the Liberty community.”