WATCH: Diners at an event in Victoria will be taking part in a unique dinner. The UVic Jewish and Muslim student associations are sponsoring a multi-cultural dinner featuring food from the Middle East. They did it last year as well. The difference this year is that groups are opening the doors to all faiths and cultures to join in. Mary Griffin reports.
Getting ready for a full house in just a few hours, Asiyah Robinson was rearranging tables to accommodate as many diners as possible.
“There is tons of space there if you want to shift things a little over,” Robinson said. She is one of the organizers of Wednesday night’s event. As a member of the UVic Muslim Student Association, her organization is joining forces to host a dinner with the UVic Jewish Students Association. “It’s open to everyone. Everyone. students, and professionals,” Robinson said. “People of either faith or no faith at all. It’s really just open to people who are welcome to come and have a discussion.”
Organizers booked a large room at the student union building, but even they are surprised by the response. The timing of this event comes just a week after an offensive poster with an anti-semitic message popped up on campus signed by the “alt-right”. They were quickly taken down. Organizers of this dinner say those posters do not represent UVic.
“It’s not a common thing that we see up here at UVic,” Ora Stefanic, organizer of the dinner and member of the UVic Jewish Students Association, said. “And I’m happy, I’m pleased that UVic reacted, and condemned that deed.”
“I think something that’s special about UVic is how we all really band together when things like this happen,” Robinson said. “We are a campus that is really, really open to inclusivity.”
The 2016 Times Higher Education World Rankings lists UVic as one of the world’s most international universities. More than 70 per cent of undergrads come from outside Greater Victoria. And five per cent of the 21,000 students come from outside Canada. There appears to be an appetite on campus to learn from each other.
“The message we are trying to deliver is diversity is strong,” Stefanic said. “It makes us strong. And this is what makes us strong as a nation. And we could learn from one another, and expand.”
“Last year’s event was really focused on Muslim and Jewish faiths,” Robinson said.”This year is about shared faiths and shared cultures. We really just want to invite everyone. Anyone is welcome to talk about their experiences, their culture, their faiths, their beliefs, their anything.”