I am a member of the greater Ft. Collins community, with no ties to Colorado State University. I applaud the University for staging the International Fest each year, for it is truly a good idea to get an introduction to our global neighbors, to broaden our horizons, challenge our assumptions, and hopefully create a spirit of greater tolerance and understanding among cultures. It is very worthwhile that this is the aim and spirit of the International Fest.
And I certainly respect the students’ freedom of speech and understand the need for the disclaimer that views presented by the students do not necessarily represent the University. However, one would hope that the student groups, while exercising their free speech, would also choose to respect and honor the goals of International Fest.
I am referring in particular to the varied Muslim student groups that are sponsoring programs. By my count in today’s (Coloradoan, Tuesday, November 5th) paper, out of a total of 54 programs, 9 programs, or 17% of the total, appeared to be sponsored by Muslim student groups. Of these nine, 7 programs or 78% dealt with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Only two programs seem to deal with any aspect of Islamic culture, history or religion that in any way promotes the goals of International Fest. It is truly tragic that the Muslim student groups chose to co-opt the spirit of the International Fest and to subvert it as a forum for their political views.
There is certainly no shortage of controversial topics being addressed during International Fest, and the Muslim student groups certainly have the right to address controversial issues and promote their cause. However, no other topic has such a high number of events devoted to it as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and seemingly from one perspective. This seems to me outlandishly lopsided, and again, does little if anything to promote the goals of International Fest.
There is more to the Muslim/Arab world than the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There is so much that could be examined in terms of history, literature, culture, music, differences between the various Muslim sects and ethnic groups, etc. I hope that in the future, their student representatives will choose to take a more positive and balanced approach to their programming.
Ft. Collins resident