A new campus group focused on dispelling religious ignorance, Spirituality Awareness Education and Sikhism, has recently started holding meetings this semester. The group is intended to involve students of all religious backgrounds in a dialogue about broad life questions and specific spiritual issues.
The group has been in the works since last spring, said its founder Jasleen Bhasin, a junior in the College of Business Administration. An international student from India, Bhasin has been Sikh her entire life and said she was interested in helping more Marquette students learn about her religion.
“I have a really big passion for Sikhism, and when my friends saw my passion, they recommended that I start the group,” she said. “But I really wanted to raise awareness.”
In the wake of the recent shooting at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek, Wis., Bhasin said this fall was the perfect time to start the group. Although she was already planning on starting the group as soon as she could this school year, Bhasin said the tragedy increased the importance of information regarding Sikhism.
“I was creating this since last semester, but after the shooting over the summer, the awareness already rose,” she said. “I’m hoping that, through that event, people will actually know what Sikhism is and (will) want to learn more.”
SEAS held its first-ever meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 17 and started by talking about the different cultures, economies, political systems and countries that were represented. Ryan Bailey, a junior in the College of Business Administration, said the inaugural gathering was marked by a diverse population of attendees.
“It was a really, really diverse meeting,” Bailey said. “We had a Somalian, we had two Punjabis and a girl from China … There was a lot of discussion about different topics and how our faiths related to all of those different aspects of our lives.”
Other than serving as an environment for people to meet and talk, SEAS is, as its name implies, dedicated to promoting awareness and education about a relatively young religion. Bhasin said the 300-year-old faith system is often misunderstood.
“A guy with a turban and a beard is usually seen as a Sikh, but sometimes they’re confused with Muslims because of the turban,” she said. “So that’s another reason I wanted to create this group.”
Bhasin made sure to point out that the group is not only intended for Sikhs. She said all students and faculty are invited to the meetings, held every other Wednesday. The group’s next gathering will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 31 in Lalumiere 210.