By Zach Nichols, Staff Writer
After the recent racial tensions and protests at the University of Missouri, This Matters BU, an open discussion forum, will be held in the Bill Daniel Student Center today at 4 p.m. and will feature a panel of faculty from the education, journalism and religion departments to discuss how the Baylor community responds to injustice.
Immediately following the forum, Spiritual Life in collaboration with campus student leaders will host a prayer vigil in the SUB Bowl at 5 p.m., which will provide students a chance to establish a dialogue through prayer and worship.
This Matters BU, founded last year, allows students to engage with faculty members concerning societal issues.
“The forum hopes to respond to immediate issues,” said Dr. Elizabeth Palacios, dean for student development. “We’ll have a diverse panel of faculty full of expertise.”
With a structure that lends itself to discussion, the forum allows attendees to submit questions through Twitter or anonymous slips of paper.
“When you see a student body get a president to resign, communication is essential,” Palacios said. “That was a long time of students and faculty feeling like their concerns were not being listened to.”
For many students, This Matters BU is a safe space to voice opinions, allowing for every point to be heard in an equal manner. To counteract the chaotic nature of college, the open discussion forms provides students with a safe environment to discuss important issues.
“When one talks about institutional racism, things can get covert,” Palacios said. “You know that it’s happening when you see flawed policies and a lack of diversity among the faculty. Baylor always needs to feel like an open community.”
After engaging politically through the forum, students can then connect spiritually through the following prayer vigil.
“I am hopeful that discussions such as these might continue to help us all engage the world and increase our multi-cultural understanding,” Ryan Richardson, Director of Worship and Associate Chaplain, said. “It has been our practice at Baylor to gather and pray in light of world events.”
The events hope to provide participants a chance to work with one another, regardless of personal ideologies.
“A vigil in the classical sense means to gather, typically in the evening or night time, to keep watch and ask for God’s protection and guidance,” Richardson said. “My hope is that this prayer vigil serves that purpose within the student body so that we might clothe ourselves with Christ.”