Diversity finds ‘Common Ground’

Vanessa Oceguera, Common Ground Club member, was in charge of correcting the Interfaith Quiz at the Better Together Day event in Sneaky Park Tuesday. Everyone was welcome to take to the quiz. Three correct answers earned a free t-shirt. The event, publicized by Zandra Wagoner, university chaplain, is a national day celebrated at college campuses around the United States. / photo by Sara Flores
Vanessa Oceguera, Common Ground Club member, was in charge of correcting the Interfaith Quiz at the Better Together Day event in Sneaky Park Tuesday. Everyone was welcome to take to the quiz. Three correct answers earned a free t-shirt. The event, publicized by Zandra Wagoner, university chaplain, is a national day celebrated at college campuses around the United States. / photo by Sara Flores

Sierra Dasher
Staff Writer

The University of La Verne’s interfaith group, Common Ground, hosted Better Together Day to bring students and faculty from different religions and world views together to promote unity in differing beliefs Tuesday in Sneaky Park.

“Better Together Day is a natural campaign promoted by Interfaith Youth Forum, and interfaith groups on different campuses are holding this event,” said Roxana Bautista, Common Ground president and junior psychology major.

“Students are able to be exposed to different faith traditions and learn about the misconceptions they may have about them,” she said.

Better Together Day featured booths with many worldviews, such as Catholicism, Muslim, Atheist, Jewish and more.

“We are hoping that students and faculty that are here can interact with people that are from a different world than their own, and can develop a friendship through that to find out what inspires each other from our different world views to build bridges,” said Zandra Wagoner, interfaith chaplain and Common Ground adviser.

“So when you are in much more difficult situations when these worldviews clash, you have already built up some social networks between yourselves” she said.

Wagoner hopes the students and faculty can learn more about one another and to use this connection to show everyone truly is better together.

“This has taught me to be more open minded about all the religions on campus, and it’s not just the main popular ones; it’s very diverse,” said Yamilet Nunez, freshman international business major.

Cameron Mendez, junior sociology major, was the representative for the Atheist/Secular booth at Better Together Day.

“I am president of the Secular Student Alliance, which is a club on campus that promotes and are activists for the secular movement,” Mendez said. “We are all for interfaith cooperation, but predominantly for the rights for people to live without religion, or to be secular, atheist, or agnostic.”

Mendez wanted to meet with different people to discuss ideas and to clarify stereotypes about being atheist, agnostic or secular.

Bautista was inspired to join Common Ground after running into the club’s executive board meeting at a food network event at the local church. She was drawn in by how friendly and genuine the members were.

“This is just too beautiful for something like this to end, so I said ‘not on my watch,’” Bautista said. “While I’m here, I’m going to keep it alive, and once I leave I know I did my part,” she said.

Sierra Dasher can be contacted at sierra.dasher@laverne.edu.

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