Troy University is often referred to as “the international university,” stemming from the fact that the student body consists of students from many different countries and cultures.
Moreover, students of Troy University have the opportunity to travel and study in many different parts of the world.
Despite this seemingly accepting cultural focus, a few of Troy University’s policies continue to alienate many students.
With the recently-passed resolution from the Student Government Association, prayers are allowed at any Troy University-sponsored events.
While it was communicated that the intention of the resolution was the celebration of diversity and equal representation, the SGA may have failed to recognize some consequences of such action.
I find the resolution disheartening because prayer is a specifically religious practice, and while prayer does not specifically refer to the attempt of communicating with the Judeo-Christian God, it is still the act of attempting to communicate with a god, which alienates students who do not have a religion.
Troy University Secular Student Alliance is a recognized organization on campus that is primarily for atheist and agnostic students.
The organization’s principle reads: “We believe in the importance of providing a community for open-minded students and promoting tolerance and a civil exchange of ideas.
Everyone is welcome.” At the time of the writing of this article, the group had 49 members. That is a minimum of 49 students whom the SGA chose to ignore.
Furthermore, not all prayers fit all religions, which creates another problem. Troy University has students from all over the world who all have different religions and pray to different gods in numerous ways. At university-sponsored events, where most students are welcome, there will more than likely be an assortment of students from various backgrounds.
According to Jorge Solis, SGA vice president of legislative affairs and a junior political science major from Pell City, the decision to have a prayer at an event is at the discretion of the event organizer. The ability to exercise or not to exercise religious practices is a right, not a privilege that can be granted by public-school-sponsored event organizers. The SGA’s authorization of prayers hence denies students such a right.
It is also difficult to allot a time before every university-sponsored event to pray to all of the students’ gods with due respect. Therefore, only one or two gods will be allowed to reap the benefits of this resolution, further alienating students and causing discomfort among the students.
I am a firm believer that religion must be kept out of non-affiliated schools in order to create a more education-focused environment. A classroom overwhelmed with gods is a place to neither worship nor to learn.
I humbly ask that the SGA rethink its decision and re-evaluate the consequences it may have on the students who are uncomfortable with religion, or who disagree with the god(s) being prayed to at the events.
In order to have the title “the international university,” we must earn it, and we do that with inclusive policies and open-minded practices, not with isolationist tactics that leave students alienated.
An appropriate alternative would be a “moment of silence” before or after the Pledge of Allegiance at all events sponsored by the university, allowing prayer to be completely optional. It is a respectful way to join as a student body in the stillness and quiet and to reflect on what life, or religion, means to you, the individual student.
Stephanie Clinton is a sophomore theater major from Hueytown.