Belmont University provost David Gregory announced Wednesday that the university will begin considering Jewish professors in the schools of law, pharmacy and medicine.
Six students reacted to the new policy, providing perspective into what this means for Belmont.
AYLA SCHWARTZ, Senior
An active member in the Jewish community, Schwartz said she pleased to see her faith recognized at Belmont.
“My initial take is that I'm not surprised. I have been very involved in the Jewish community both here and off campus, so it was never really a surprise to me, it was just kind of like a hope that maybe one day they will, so I just glad that my senior year I may be able to see this,” Schwartz said.
Promoting Christianity is a priority at Belmont, but hiring Jewish faculty is an attempt to show respect to other faiths and cultures, Schwartz said.
“Obviously, there's Jewish schools and Muslim schools. So, I totally respect that we’re a Christian school, it’s not a difference” Schwartz said. “I just think it's a great way to show that you're recognizing that there's other cultures out there.”
NATHAN ARNOLD, Sophomore
“I'll just say that whenever you do something like this, the intention can always be great. You can always do something that has great intention but there can also be negative consequences as a result of that,” Arnold said. “Personally, I’m always a little skeptical about things of this nature.”
Arnold acknowledges that Belmont is on the right track to increase diversity with this initiative and frames it as progress but realizes there is some hypocrisy within Belmont’s core values.
“I think maybe from a technical standpoint, saying that it's Christ-centered might be a bit of a contradiction, but even on that particular statement, at the end of the day, the main focus is on God and that's something that is important in Jewish practicing,” Arnold said.
ROSE SAMY, Senior
Samy is waiting to see if Belmont actually hires someone Jewish.
“I would still say them considering it alone is a little progress,” Samy said. “Even if it's just a thought, it's not going to mean anything until they actually act on it.”
Hiring only Christian and Jewish faculty isn’t enough, she said.
“Now that they're expanding to faculty with religious backgrounds, I'd say that they need to be open to anybody with any religious background,” Samy said.
MARCUS KNIGHT, Fifth-year Senior
“It’s exciting," said Knight.
“I love having diverse people in general, I think having different thoughts, and different experiences is going to make for a better curriculum and better discussion among students,” said Knight. “I think, especially for what we're trying to do with diversity and storytelling, we have to be making some bold decisions.”
Although Belmont’s mission statement highlights ‘Christ-centered’ as an emphasis, Knight said. There might need to be a change in the vocabulary used around the university.
“I think the language that we use may have to change if we're going move in this direction. Even though obviously we're centered around Christ in our foundation,” Knight said. “I think we might have to kind of rearrange what that looks like if we're going go down this route, because then we run the risk of being hypocritical.”
Knight believes that this is a step in the right direction but hopes that Belmont keeps a forward-thinking mindset.
“I'm hoping that if this is actually happening, that in the near future, that there will be a little bit more of a push across the board for religion, race, ethnicity and gender,” Knight said.
JACKSON CLEMONS, Sophomore
“Belmont has gone a long way in my time here with efforts of expansion to include more,” Clemons said. “I think they’re taking steps to shift the identity and that obviously takes a bit of change.”
Clemons knows that the best method for growth is accepting others, which helps broaden opinions.
“Belmont has already started with their initiative to be more inclusive, it’s all about seeing those perspectives and not just people in a similar category,” Clemons said. “I think this is progress.”
MYLES HOFFMAN, Senior
Hoffman is also an active member of the Jewish community.
“As much as they might change the language, I think they’re just trying to pinpoint more of trying to focus on values and be more accepting of all religions rather than focusing on everything having to be based of Christianity or believing in Jesus.”
Although he is not a Christian; Hoffman uses some of the same principles that Belmont preaches.
“I think Christ centered is meant to embody the values of the school, ‘thou shall love thy neighbor’ like the ten commandments in the Torah, those are words that are still used in New Testament language, people still talk about the principles that I use in my daily life,” Hoffman said. “That way of setting up an umbrella of how Belmont wants to lead their institution and develop their student body.”
Hoffman feels comfortable in Belmont environment.
“I wouldn’t have come to Belmont if I wasn’t comfortable with how the school runs, with me being someone who is Jewish in faith,” Hoffman said.
This article was written by Landen Secrest.