As an atheist, I know I am in a minority at a small liberal arts school with a religious affiliation. I accepted that when I applied to Wittenberg University. I do, however, find it refreshing that different student groups want to spread positive messages in times of stress or adversity, as was the case earlier this year. While the end of the semester can be stressful for students, spreading “uplifting” messages of a religious nature is in bad taste when we, as a school, try to embrace diversity.
Wittenberg is a relatively whitewashed school. I can say this coming from the melting pot of the suburbs surrounding Washington, D.C. At this school, diversity does not come only through the inclusion of people of different races and ethnicities, but also through being host to people with different interests and ideologies, religious or otherwise. When I saw the new signs put up, I was initially confused as to why one faith was being displayed more prevalently than any other. I have seen one sign with a quote from the Dalai Lama, but the majority of the signs express the importance of praising God or make use of passages from the New Testament.
For me, I find I can pick and chose the flyers I read more closely, based on my interests, when the group that put them up identifies themselves. It is harder to ignore succinct signs placed on the doors of the buildings I visit most or in the stairwells. The anonymity of the posters of these messages is disconcerting in that I feel as it they are questioning my beliefs when those beliefs do not align with theirs. If they meant to recruit for a specific group and not simply to inspire their fellow students, they should have been more upfront about their aspirations.
Religion was not thrust upon me as a child. I was given the opportunity to decide what I wanted to believe in for myself. I believe that people should have the ability to make the same sort of decisions for themselves, and a university is an environment conducive to the introduction of new ideas. People should be able to explore different faiths or levels of faith if they so choose; faith should not be forced upon them.
Regardless of intentions, the signs are exclusive to a particular group at Wittenberg. If your intent is to spread positivity to your fellow students, please take their diverse beliefs into consideration and draw from less biased sources in the future.