A Message From the East: UniverCity events reflect diversity; different experiences prove educational

Ball State's campus witnessed UniverCity 2002 last week. The biennial festival was a great opportunity for students and locals to attend various lectures and exhibits. As with any major effort, UniverCity 2002 had positives and negatives.

As for the negatives, there were some activities that didn't attract many people. You'd walk around and find some tents with no audience. The opposite is true for some other activities where there were not enough chairs.

Tents were so close to each other, sound interference distracted the attention of people. Sometimes one could hear the voices of two speakers at the same time.

As expected, UniverCity 2002 was a great festival. I enjoyed the diversity of activities. Listening to scholars representing different intellectual trends provided me with knowledge of a special type.

The idea that the world's miseries could be traced back to 'the clash of fundamentalisms' not to 'the clash of civilizations' made perfect sense to me. Majeed Tehraninan, from the University of Hawaii, said there is only one human civilization with different manifestations. For this purpose he suggested that the word 'civilization' should be used only in the singular form.

The concept of promoting the message of racial tolerance and religious understanding had a prominent spot in UniverCity 2002. T.J. Leyden, the former neo-Nazi, talked about how he was fed the idea of white supremacy that involves looking down at other races. I liked his suggestions to Ball State students to utilize their campus life to explore other students' cultures and religions.

Cornel West expressed a similar message. He considered racial plurality and religious plurality basic components in democracy. There is a need for encouraging dialogue through which everybody has a voice. It is really a great recommendation that promotes understanding, especially after Sept. 11.

The presentation of Jeffrey Wigand, former tobacco executive, made me more aware of how smoking can damage health. I think he concentrated on the right thing concerning the importance of educating our children about dangers of smoking and not being fooled by advertisements that associate smoking with enjoyment and fitness. I hope that made sense to other students.

I participated in the 'Our Point vs. Your Point' session. There were American students and Muslim students who shared concerns about what has been going on since the event of Sept. 11. Violations of human rights took a great part of the discussion. The audience showed disagreement with such violations and considered them strange to American society.

One of the comments from the audience was about the importance of learning more about the different religions represented on the Ball State campus. An introduction into the world's religions is a suggested elective course that would make students understand other faiths.

UniverCity 2002 provided students and locals with knowledge and entertainment. Such festivals create a good environment for people from different backgrounds and ages to meet and learn from each other.

Write to Fahad at fahad765@yahoo.com


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