ing Social Justice at Smith
The Center for Religious and Spiritual Life at the Helen Hills Hills Chapel is a place of diverse cultural and religious learning and expression, spiritual development, hospitality and community engagement. We aim to increase student knowledge and engagement with intersections of religion and world affairs, and to provide support and guidance to students as they wrestle with questions of meaning, faith and purpose.
In the fall the Center for Religious and Spiritual Life (CRSL) expanded upon its theme of "Justice, Identity, and Social Change." Senior Interfaith Fellow Matilda Cantwell met regularly with members of the CRSL Student Advisory Board to cultivate ideas and plan programming to complement the Center's mission. With Community Religious Advisers, college staff and students, CRSL also embarked on a "Faith in Action Project," a new paradigm of community engagement that seeks to develop creative collaborations with community partners.
Many programs were global in nature, which hit home in real ways. "Smith is a community that gathers," Jennifer Walters, Dean of Religious Life, reflected during one of the vigils, held to mark global events. Center staff worked with students to plan campus-wide vigils, calling attention to various concerns including the floods in Chennai, India; violence in Israel; and the attacks in Paris. Smithies came together to offer hope and reassurance in the face of tragedy. Read about the gatherings to address the
attacks in Paris
Religious observances of various traditions were celebrated at Smith this fall as well. The musical promise of the Advent season resonated with Christmas Vespers and Hindu students brought the Diwali festival of lights to Northampton. During Rosh Hashanah Rabbi Rhonda Shapiro-Rieser guided students in the meaning of "L' Shanah Tova tikatevu (May you be inscribed for a new year)"
brought intersectional activist Linda Sarsour to the Helen Hills Hills Chapel to speak on social justice in Ferguson, MO. Each event provided a rich opportunity for personal development, community sharing and aspirations for future endeavors.
Additionally Smithies put their values into action. Two student organizations EKTA and ISO joined forces to provide relief support to families facing misfortune in
where a massive earthquake last April resulted in 9,000 casualties and extensive devastation. Students raised $700 towards rebuilding the Shree Patan Debi Secondary School for children in grades 1-10. Moreover, Interfaith Senior Fellow Matilda Cantwell and Alison Brauner '14 of Cathedral in the Night offered students an educational program on homelessness and service project which prepared a meal for needy families in Northampton.
Smith students also learned to decompress,
and de-stress this semester. A
led by Community Religious Adviser Ryumon Hilda Baldoquin, Sensei provided weekly solace to students. Physical movement in an evening workshop with Health Services emphasized kicking, punching and stomping as valves of
And of course, there were other ways such as taking advantage of the semester's unusually warm weather by relaxing on Chapin Lawn,
petting guinea pigs
getting off campus
to drink herbal tea downtown.