By: Mary Macrae – Staff Writer
University of Dayton campus ministry engages with students in a variety of different ways and one of its most compelling is the Table of Plenty discussions. Within in these discussions students, faculty and staff have the opportunity to listen and debate social justice issues that affect their lives, community and even world.
These topics debated used to be decided way ahead of time and had been scheduled at certain points throughout the year. However, this year, campus ministry decided to take on a new approach toward this process of decision making in order to keep up with more timely issues that affect and interest the UD community, according to the Table of Plenty website.
Currently, the staff of the center for social concern gathers about two weeks before every Table of Plenty discussion and attempt to find a topic that people will be interested in and willingly want to talk about, according to the website. These potential debate topics are newsworthy and of relative importance to the UD campus and community. Along with newsworthiness and collective importance to students, these potential topics also need a prospective faith and moral component to them in order to encourage and discuss what direction to follow in these difficult and often challenging issues.
These potential topics do not solely come from the staff of the center for social concern; participants in previous discussions are encouraged to give suggestions to staff about what topics they would be interested in discussing in the future. The staff said it recognizes and values participants’ opinions and feedback, and want to provide topics students will be interested in furthering their debate and knowledge on.
The first Table of Plenty discussion “Racial Tensions: Ferguson, Beavercreek, and UD” of this semester took place Sept. 16 and demonstrated the efficiency of the new topic making process.
“Our first one on ‘Racial Tensions: Ferguson, Beavercreek, and UD’ turned out to be an excellent discussion at every table,” Nick Cardilino, associate director of campus ministry and director for the CSC, said. “People had a lot of strong opinions. Based on our first experience, choosing a topic closer to the date of discussion seemed to work very well.”
At these discussions students are allowed to discover and ponder deep, civil discussions on complicated issues and explore how one’s faith and personal value system affects one’s answers to these thought provoking topics.
“If you come, you can expect open dialogue, to learn something new and in a safe environment to share your opinion. [Students] should care because we all live here in a community and should value the opinions, struggles and voices of one another,” Mary Niebler, associate director for the CSC and coordinator of cross-cultural immersions, said.
The next Table of Plenty discussion, “Loving Your Enemies: How Does a Person of Faith Respond to the Islamic State?” was Tuesday at noon, to discuss a faithful response to the Islamic State (ISIS). The next topic for Table of Plenty is still being determined, and will take place Nov. 11 from noon – 1 p.m. To register or find more information, visit udayton.edu/ministry/csc/advocacy/table_of_plenty.php.