Goodbye, InterVarsity

I arrived at the University of Michigan in the fall of 2000 as a naïve, eager 17-year-old. I spent my first week on campus doing the standard litany of Welcome Week activities: getting as much free food as possible from all the student organizations hosting events, traveling everywhere in a pack of 10, going to see if fraternity parties lived up to the hype. College was the best.

And then classes started, and I quickly learned that college was not the best. College was a lot of work. More importantly, college could be incredibly lonely, especially for a new freshman. I had plenty of friends on campus from high school and my home church, but they were all busy doing their own thing, taking their own classes, starting their own lives. I was meeting tons of new people, but you could only go so deep in a few weeks. I’ve never enjoyed drinking, which ruled out a significant amount of weekend activity. I remember climbing into my lofted bed on a Saturday night in September and listening to the sounds of people walking and laughing outside my window, heading south on State Street toward Sigma Chi; I pulled the covers to my chin, folded my hands on my chest, and blinked into the dark. I had never felt more alone.

The first six weeks of college were hard. But then a remarkable thing happened: I went to a dinner hosted by Chinese Christian Fellowship (now Asian InterVarsity), one of the three InterVarsity chapters on campus. I’d been attending their weekly events, trying to figure out how I fit into this mass of people with whom I had at least two things in common, but nothing had really clicked. On this particular evening, though, a junior named Kelly invited me to sit with her and a handful of other freshmen I had never seen before. We clicked. These girls became my small group and my closest friends on campus. They were the ones who turned college around for me.

Continue reading on the Salt Collective

How I Came Around on Gay Marriage

I climb out of my Pontiac Bonneville and slam the door shut; my 16-year-old brother follows suit on the passenger side. We walk down the beige concrete path to the front entrance of the middle school near my parents’ house, which leads us into the gym. One wall is lined with a row of voting booths, each enshrouded in dirty grey fabric. My heart beats a little faster.

It is November 2004, and I am about to vote in my first national election. I had been 3 months shy of 18 at the time of the last one, when I watched my fellow college freshmen register to vote in dorm lobbies and on the quad, and when I would eventually hear more about hanging chads and the state of Florida than I ever cared to hear. Four years — a lifetime, really — have passed since then; instead of a wide-eyed, insecure freshman, I am now a newly minted college graduate, enlightened by years of studying and paper-writing and classroom debate. Or so I think, at least.

I step into a booth, my brother to my left (though he is too young to vote himself, he is an aspiring politico who lives for elections), and draw the curtain behind us. I make my largely uninformed choices for president, for congressional representative, for justice of the state supreme court. I quickly breeze through the ballot until we get to the last item, Proposal 04-2, an amendment to the state of Michigan’s constitution:

To secure and preserve the benefits of marriage for our society and for future generations of children, the union of one man and one woman in marriage shall be the only agreement recognized as a marriage or similar union for any purpose.”

Continue reading on the Salt Collective

How Good Is Your Organization at Diversity?

Everyone claims to care about diversity; it’s written into every piece of HR paperwork that any organization could have.  But for all the lip service that’s paid to diversity and multiculturalism these days, there are precious few organizations who do it well, and most don’t do it nearly as well as they think they do.  So how good is your organization, TV show, or church at diversity?  Here are a few benchmarks you can use.

Continue reading on the Salt Collective

The Hypocrisy of Arizona

On Thursday, the Arizona State Legislature passed SB 1062, a bill that would permit business owners and religious organizations to discriminate against members of the LGBT community, as long as they can demonstrate that their actions stem from their religious beliefs.

Proponents of the bill call its passage a win for religious freedom. But this confuses me, as I have a hard time coming up with any religion that espouses more discrimination and more exclusion.

Admittedly, I’m not an expert in all religions. But I know a little about my own, which is the same one that the writers of this bill claim to observe. And when I open a Bible and read about the life of Jesus, nowhere do I see the kind of behavior that the state of Arizona wants to protect in the name of religious freedom.

Continue reading on the Salt Collective