|Type of group:||Diversity, Networking, General Education|
|Meeting time:||Tuesdays at 9 P. M.|
|Meeting place:||Jenness House, Morley Circle|
|Office:||Chaplains' Office, Second Floor of Paresky|
|Contact:||Andrew Best (ajb5), Khan Shairani (kas3)|
|Established:||Fall of 2009 by Mustafa Saadi '12 and Jennifer Monge '12|
InterFaith is a type of umbrella group that seeks to bring together and, hopefully, properly represent the religious groups on campus. As such, IF attempts to have a representative from every religious or religious/spirituality related group on its board each year. Together, this board hosts interfaith discussions open to the whole campus (often with food supplied), various events which brings in different speakers, and various service work around the Williamstown and North Adams areas. Likely to be a tradition, IF has also put on Interfaith Month, an entire month dedicated to speakers and events meant to educate the general campus about a certain aspect (such as the afterlife, etc.) of all the many faiths on campus.
- 1 History
- 2 Current Constitution
- 2.1 Preamble
- 2.2 Article I - Name and Brief Description
- 2.3 Article II - Purpose
- 2.4 Article III - Affiliation
- 2.5 Article IV - Membership
- 2.6 Article V - Officers/Elections
- 2.7 Article VI - Advisor
- 2.8 Article VII - Meetings
- 2.9 Article VIII - Constitutional Amendments
- 2.10 Article IX - Funding
- 2.11 Article X - Dissolution
- 2.12 Article XI - Exigency
- 3 Past InterFaith Boards
- 4 Groups Affiliated With InterFaith
- 5 Past Activity
InterFaith first came to others' attention in October of 2009 with an E-mail from Mustafa Saadi '12 and Jennifer Monge '12. Just half a year before this, during Winter Study, Williams Secular Community had been started and the Chaplains had been hosting interfaith discussions as well during the beginning of the Fall of 2009 as their usual Theology On Tap events. It's possible that these events may have spurred the feelings of need for an interfaith group on campus. Regardless, the below E-mail was sent to all known religious group affliates on campus:
- Hi Everybody,
- Hope you everyone is having a great start to the year.
- I wanted to inform you all of a new group that will hopefully start and grow with the help of your respective organizations. We currently call ourselves IF. It stands for inter-faith. Get it? IFâ€¦inter-faith. If you don't and have a better idea we are open to changing the name.
- Our mission is to bring various faith groups (This ranges from Hinduism, to Christianity, to Atheism) together based on beliefs and practices that bring us closer to each other. And within this zone of recognized similarities we can discover ways in which we are different from each other. Moreover, and more importantly we really hope that inter-faith collaboration will further intra-faith goals. I am going to purposely leave the meaning of this vague in order to give us space to define it ourselves.
- To implement our mission we are trying to set up an Inter-Faith council where each organization will send a representative. The specific details of the council can be worked on together. But this council's would serve as a space for faith groups to come together and organize events that bring us together while at the same time further each group's respective agenda. For example, this group will be in charge of organizing an InterFaith week.
- With that said, we plan on holding our first meeting this Thursday in Paresky room 222 from 7-8pm. I will send out I would really appreciate if each group would be able to send one representative. Please email if you can make it, if you cannot make it but are interesting in participating in the future, or if you just simply do not want to make it.
- Also if you may think of some volunteering opportunities that we our groups can do together I would very much appreciate it so we can start IF running. We have some events in mind, but would really like it if we collaborated together in creating this event.
- Please feel free to email me if you have any questions or need further information.
- My name is Mustafa Saadi[â€¦].
- Hope to see some you this Thursday in Paresky,
- Thank you and Best Regards,
- Mustafa Saadi and Jennifer Monge
The groups eventually met and InterFaith was formed.
The current constitution, as crafted and approved by the 2010-2011 IF board at the end of the 2011 Spring semester.
- We, the members of InterFaith, established to bring together the different religion/spiritual-related groups on campus, do ordain and establish this constitution and subscribe to the regulations and policies of Williams College.
Article I - Name and Brief Description
- InterFaith will also operate under the acronym IF.
- InterFaith brings together people of different religious backgrounds on campus so that they may interact with, empathize with, and understand each other. We regularly discuss religious issues in a safe space; we expect and respect differences of religion or opinion. We also coordinate activities with other religion/spiritual-related groups on campus.
Article II - Purpose
- InterFaith was formed to bring together the different religion/spiritual-related groups on campus so that they may interact with, empathize with, and reduce possible misunderstanding between one another. InterFaith seeks to help the campus engage both the broad public realm and community life by highlighting the very personal beliefs of the multitude of the campus and providing spaces for students to engage and embrace such beliefs. InterFaith also serves as a coalition of groups that can educate the remainder of the campus on the differences and similarities between the groups; through different meetings and events, IF will instigate discussions and learning experiences readily available for people who might not have encountered any or all other faiths on campus. Finally, InterFaith will serve as greater support for the religions/spiritual-related groups on campus, providing more student voice should the need arise.
- It is also the purpose of this organization to abide by the Code of Student Conduct and to uphold the educational mission of Williams College.
Article III - Affiliation
- InterFaith is not affiliated with any local, state, or national organization. If members of InterFaith wish to formally affiliate IF with an organization, they must amend this Constitution.
Article IV - Membership
- All Williams College students are eligible for membership. There are no restrictions on College students for admission. Membership is completely open to whoever would like to join. We do not anticipate a need for removal of members, but if such a situation arises, the IF officers will deal privately with the matter. To withdraw from IF, members may remove themselves from the InterFaith listserve and stop attending meetings. Only active members may vote or hold office.
- Williams College, in compliance with state and federal law, does not discriminate in admission, employment, or administration of its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, ancestry, or military service. Any member of the College community who on any of these grounds feels discriminated against by another member of the community should take action.
Article V - Officers/Elections
- The officers for IF are two Co-Chairs, one Treasurer, and one Secretary. At least two officers constitute an executive committee, and this group has the power to make decisions on behalf of the group, except in cases of a decision normally made by the vote of the officer and non-officer members of InterFaith.
- Members wishing to be elected as officers will submit self-nominations to the officers at a previously announced time in April or May. The names of the nominations will be made public to all members. If there is no contest for a position, there will be no vote held. If there is a contest for a position, all members may vote. The voting will be held at a previously announced IF meeting. The nominees will introduce themselves and may say a few words about why they wish to hold an officer position. The nominees will then leave the room, and the remaining members will vote.
- Officers serve a term of one year, after which they may re-nominate themselves and will go through the normal election process. In the event of an officer vacancy of more than one month, members will be allowed to submit self-nominations to the officers for the position. The officers will choose who will fill the vacancy. If the officers cannot come to a unanimous decision, a normal election will be held for that position only.
- If IF feels that an officer is not performing his or her duties, and after being made aware of this, that officer does not improve, the officer may be removed. To be removed, at least two other officers and five non-officer members will write a formal letter explaining the reasons for removal and citing this Constitution as their right to do so. After the removal of an officer, a full election will be held for that position as usual.
Article VI - Advisor
- There will be a Williams faculty/staff advisor for IF. The advisor will be chosen from within the Chaplain’s office by the officers at the end of each academic year, in May. If the officers cannot come to a unanimous decision, a full vote of the members will be taken. Advisors serve for one year. In the event of a vacancy greater than one month, another advisor will be chosen by the usual methods.
- This organization may select and secure an advisor from the active faculty or staff of Williams College and will register their name with Campus Life annually. The advisor will be informed of all meetings and activities of the organization and may call a special meeting of the organization to discuss concerns for the ongoing nature of the organization.
Article VII - Meetings
- IF will meet approximately twice per month, or as necessary, as decided by the officers. General consensus among the officers will decide meeting dates, and any officer may then call the meeting through the listserve.
Article VIII - Constitutional Amendments
- Only officers may propose an amendment to this Constitution. Amendments will be proposed and discussed at a meeting. To pass, an amendment will need a 2/3 majority vote from the active membership in order to pass. Because the membership of IF is fluid, the 2/3 will be calculated from the total responses to the amendment, not the total number of members. That is, of the votes cast in regards to the amendment, 2/3 must be in support of the amendment in order for it to be passed.
- All amendments, additions, or deletions must be approved and filed with College Council.
Article IX - Funding
- This student group agrees to abide by all funding bylaws set forth by the Williams College Council. This includes the process for applying for funding and the possible uses for CC funds by student organizations. A finance officer/treasurer will be responsible for budgeting the student organization’s funds in accordance with CC funding bylaws. The finance officer (and organization as whole) is responsible for all activities involving funding. In approving this constitution, this student group also acknowledges that it may fundraise of its own accord, but alumni solicitation must be coordinated through the Development Office.
Article X - Dissolution
- Dissolution of IF will be decided by a majority vote of the members, unless at least two members wish to continue IF. If at least two members wish to continue IF, they may claim responsibility for the group.
- Any money that InterFaith has acquired prior to dissolution will be donated to the Williams College Council Projects Fund.
Article XI - Exigency
- InterFaith also reserves the parliamentary authority to be used for points not covered in this Constitution.
Past InterFaith Boards
Secretary Rachel Hagler
Secretary Chih McDermott
2012-2013: Co-chair Andrew Best
Treasurer Khan Shairani
Groups Affiliated With InterFaith
While InterFaith seeks to involve all religious groups, not all groups sent representatives to join IF. Of the groups that did join:
The Muslim Student Union (MSU)
The Muslim Student Union is the Islamic group on campus. All are welcome and meetings are every Friday at 4 in the Muslim Prayer Room.
The group was founded with the purpose of bringing together students of Islamic heritage in friendship and brother/sisterhood while educating others about Islam.
The MSU has consistently held a Fast-a-thon during the month of Ramadan for various causes, as well as bringing different speakers to campus.
Williams Secular Community (WSC)
Williams Secular Community was created as a means to fill the gap among the many religious groups on campus for those of a non-religious flavor.
While open to anyone, WSC serves particularly as a support group for atheists, agnostics, and those questioning any sort of religious belief. The group also serves as a safe God-less place on campus for any type of secular thinker or adherer.
WSC also hopes to bring better education about different flavors of non-religiousity/spirituality (atheism (strong and soft), agnosticism, spirituality, and all other possible grays) as well as creating a safer enviroment for said people.
WSC meets every Tuesday for dinner at 6 P. M. and holds a discussion on various topics in Paresky on Thursdays at 10 P. M. The group also hosts speakers and puts on various events, like their Ask an Atheist event.
Every month the group also hosts a dinner of various ethnic foods as well as in-the-week services and prayings of the rosary.
Williams College Jewish Association (WCJA)
Williams College Jewish Association is the Jewish group on campus. All are welcome. The group is the central planning organization for Jewish Religious observances, social events, and tzedek projects for the Williams College community.
Williams Christian Fellowship (WCF)
Williams Christian Fellowship is a fellowship that attempts to serve all Christians on campus. WCF desires to see people come to know the LOVE of God and make Jesus LORD over their whole lives, so that everything they say or do is lived out in WORSHIP, in response to who God is.
WCF hosts a variety of different meetings and is a sprawling organization which offers a multitude of different facets for most any Christian desire.
During the 2010-2011 school year, the MSU rightly raised the issue that there was no Muslim chaplain for Muslim students on campus. A multitude of student groups wrote letters of support to the administration voicing their support for such a hiring. InterFaith was amongst that group. Their letter is shown below:
- In the recent weeks, we have become aware of a growing movement on campus to persuade the college to hire a Muslim Chaplin. Considering the experience that InterFaith [IF] has had involving interfaith activities, the group feels that it can speak strongly on the importance of having a chaplain available for all students who require one. One’s belief regarding spirituality (from polytheism to monotheism to atheism) goes beyond just highlighting a belief system; it often frames the cultural upbringing one has and, further, influences how one thinks.
- Outside of our own group, the Chaplain’s office is constantly working towards greater understanding within faith and non-faith groups; however, this is not enough. While both IF and the Chaplain’s office allow for Muslim students to have a visible voice, this does not provide same aid that a Muslim chaplain would. For example, students should have the greatest access to religious knowledge and services possible, and a Muslim chaplain, not individual Muslim students, is the only one capable of providing this knowledge and services particular to the Islamic faith to the Williams community during all times of the school day.
- But even further, InterFaith’s role as facilitators of dialogues between religious, spiritual, and non-religious students on campus has allowed us, as student leaders, to see the importance of the availability of spiritual leaders in our daily lives. For instance, in Theology on Tap, chaplains representing various faith groups on campus invite students to ask them any questions they might have about their religions. Unfortunately, within this event, Muslims do not have a voice, or, if they are represented, they are represented by students. This highlights two critical problems we would like to bring to your attention. First, when IF hosts any faith-oriented discussion, we stress that participants should not feel like they are the voice for their religion. However, since there is no Muslim Chaplain on campus, Muslim students become quite literally, especially in the particular case of Theology on Tap, the spokesperson. Moreover, and this leads to point number two, these students have not studied the religion, or its history in a manner one would expect a Muslim Chaplain to have done. Therefore, discussions regarding Islam are stifled, depriving Muslim and non-Muslim students from a potential growth opportunity and proper exposure to the Islamic faith. In our experiences, we have found that spiritual leaders like Reverend Rick Spalding, Cantor Bob Scherr, and Father Gary Caster provide a greater understanding of their faith not only to their own adherents, but to all members of the broader Williams community.
- We often take the role of chaplains and religious leaders on campus for granted, but we feel they are an important source of strength and guidance within what are, for some students, the most basic principles of the formation of their selves. It is for all these reasons that we, as representatives of IF, petition for a Muslim chaplain.
- The interfaith community,
- And InterFaith board members Camille Chicklis, Jonathan Schmeling, and Rachel Hagler
Interfaith Month is a month-worth of events that IF attempts to put on every year that demonstrates the variety of beliefs regarding the supernatural that exist as well as educate the general campus.
Interfaith Month 2010
The focus of this Month was the afterlife. IF brought in a variety of speakers to inform the campus about their views on the after life. The entire Month was described as,
- Coming together on a subject that is usually of contention (beliefs about spirituality), Interfaith Month seeks to strike a chord of agreement and understanding. Starting Febuary 18, our speakers will share their views on the afterlife. The long message contains the schedule, including an Interfaith dinner.
The list of speakers, their speaking dates, and their respective biographies are below:
- February 18th – Matt Mascioli, speaker from Williams Christian Fellowship
- He was on staff with InterVarsity at Williams
- February 22nd – Professor Colin Adams, speaker from Williams Secular Community
- Professor in the Mathematics department at Williams and recipient of the Haimo Distinguished Teaching Award
- February 25th – Dr. Ahmed Kobeisy, speaker from Muslim Student Union
- Director and Resident Scholar at the Islamic Learning Foundation; Adjunct Professor at Syracuse University and Hartford Seminary; Imam, chaplain, and counselor in the Upstate NY area for the past several years
- March 2nd – Rabbi Jeff Goldwasser, speaker from Williams College Jewish Association
- Rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel since 2000; active member of the Northern Berkshire Clergy Association; on the Ethics Committee of North Adams Regional Hospital and a corporator of the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts Foundation
- March 7th – Interfaith Dinner, organized by the InterFaith group
- Taking place in the Jewish Resource Center, RSVP to jrs5 or ms3 if you wish to attend
- March 9th – Father Gary Castor, speaker from Williams Catholic
- Catholic Chaplain at Williams; wrote Mary, In Her Own Words: The Mother of God in Scripture in 2006; has been involved in a lot of spiritual work on campuses in the past