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President's campus challenge accepted

By molly boes
On September 22, 2011

Xavier is one of about 250 schools throughout the United States participating in Pres. Obama's Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge during the 2011-12 school year.

The President's Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge is a new program this year. The White House is launching this challenge as an initiative to encourage colleges to commit to a year of interfaith cooperation and community service programming on campus and to promote interfaith relations.

On Aug. 3, Rabbi Abie Ingber, founding director of Xavier's Center for Interfaith Community Engagement, traveled to Washington, D.C. to kick-off the challenge.

Xavier's program focuses on two aspects, namely health services/healthy living and advancing interfaith development.

Included under the health services/healthy living aspect is the Guatemala medical mission trip. On this trip, students have the opportunity to shadow medical professionals in the field in Guatemala.

A new addition to the trip will be the requirement to fulfill a certain number of hours at a free clinic in Cincinnati.

Included under the advancing interfaith development aspect are the White Rose exhibit, the Touching History program with Sarah Niemoeller, Back to the Bible and the ReelAbilities film series.

"Are we doing some things we wouldn't have without this campaign? Yes," Ingber said. "We had to do this challenge because we already do a lot of work with the interfaith community."

Two teams of students will be helping Ingber with the challenge. A group of 24 students comprises the ICE leadership cabinet, a group dedicated to running interfaith programs.

A group of eight students has been chosen to act as the White House Council. This group of students will oversee and assess all of the programs this year that fit under the challenge. All eight of these students have served a one- year term on the leadership cabinet in previous years.

"This challenge is intended to create significant energy around interfaith and community service," Ingber said. "I'd like to see if we can create relations with other Jesuit universities to share our ideas and help other universities form their own Interfaith offices."

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