August 22, 2011

Hamline Students Heed a Call from President Obama

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Hamline students Rola Alktout and Casey Magnuson are stepping up to a challenge put out by President Obama. The two seniors recently took part in a kick-off for the president’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge in Washington, DC. It’s an effort to empower schools to make interfaith education a reality at their institution and was organized by White House’s Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships in conjunction with the Interfaith Youth Core.

Hamline was invited to be one of nearly 300 colleges to participate in this challenge after Alktout filled out a lengthy application illustrating ideas to promote interfaith dialogue on campus and throughout the community. Alktout and Magnuson are co-leaders of the Hamline’s student group Multifaith Alliance. Magnuson is currently working to create an interfaith council at Hamline and Alktout will spearhead efforts to meet the president’s challenge throughout the year.

“It’s very exciting and a little overwhelming,” Alktout, who is a social justice major, said. “The White House has set certain standards for us to meet, but we’ve already gotten a lot of support from the Hamline community.”

Hamline’s social justice and religion departments, Wesley Center for Spirituality, Service and Social Justice, the Office of Residential Life, and Orientation and First Year Students Office are just a few areas of the university that Alktout has received a positive response from so far. She is also working with nonprofit organizations in the Twin Cities area to set up monthly volunteer opportunities from September until May. Each event or activity will include the chance to participate in an interfaith dialogue.

“The main point behind all of this is to encourage people to learn about different faiths and religions and to reduce hate and discrimination across our nation.” Alktout said. “My faith drives me to do volunteer work and I think it’s important for people to see where others are coming from.”