Clayton State Campus Life accepts Interfaith Challenge

MORROW — Clayton State University is creating an interfaith council to bring together the different faiths represented on its campus.

University Relations Director John Shiffert said students and faculty are invited to participate in the council’s first information meeting Tuesday.

Clayton State’s Department of Campus Life submitted a proposal in October to participate in the President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge, an endeavor from the White House designed to advance interfaith cooperation and community service in higher education.

Shiffert said the plan was to bring awareness, appreciation and acceptance of religious diversity on campus and in our community.

Clayton State was selected to participate along with roughly 280 other higher education institutions nationwide.

He said the goal is to create a campus interfaith council for organizations to address religious issues and to introduce students to different faiths that add to cultural diversity and “brings out the best in students, the campus and the community.”

Clayton State has one of the most ethnically-diverse campuses in the region with 63 percent of the student body classified as African-American, 24 percent white, 5 percent Asian or Pacific Islander, 3 percent multiracial and 2 percent Hispanic. About 4 percent of students did not identify themselves.

Campus life officials plan to charter a faith-based social Greek-letter organization and to develop a service component that explores different ways to remain spiritually and physically healthy using the philosophies and traditions of different faiths.

Shiffert said it reinforces that people often have more commonalities in their ideals than they are aware, though they may take different routes to materializing those ideals.

“It’s about understanding community service,” he said. “That’s a big part of what Clayton State is all about. The end objective is to bring enhanced awareness of religious diversity both on the campus and in the community.”

Shiffert said students have formed faith-based groups on campus. While there is no dedicated campus chapel at Clayton State, the Baptist Student Union, Campus Crusade for Christ and a Latter Day Saints organizations have held meetings in the student union and activities center in the past.

Student Organizations Coordinator Atawanna Royal, AmeriCorps Program Coordinator Jennifer Welch and Campus Life Director Natasha Hutson will direct the effort and facilitate the university’s interfaith council plan.

“We will further seek collaboration from appropriate campus departments and community organizations,” said Hutson.

Hutson encourages any student, faculty or staff member who is interested in participating in the Clayton State Interfaith Council to attend one of two meetings Tuesday. The first is at 2 p.m. and the other is at 6 p.m. Both meetings will be in the student activities center.