Hill interns learn about civility

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Several hundred Capitol Hill interns attended a daylong summit aimed at promoting civil discourse on college campuses.

Interns at the July 22 Facing Change summit, which was organized in part by Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, learned several rhetorical techniques meant to help neutralize the vitriol that infests many campus discussions, such as those surrounding Israel and other hot-button political topics.

"I don¹t think the correct dialogue is being used [by students] because people are so focused on being anti-the other group," Lyndsi Sherman, 20, a student at San Diego State University, told the Washington Jewish Week. "I¹m really hoping to go back to my campus and change it."

Campus conversations about Israel, Sherman added, are particularly contentious.

"It¹s really bad," she said.

Presenters, such as Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer and Eboo Patel, founder and executive director of the Interfaith Youth Core, a nonprofit that promotes religious pluralism, emphasized the need to respect those with different viewpoints.

"You should always be ready to give respect to your interlocutors," said Krauthammer, adding that civility doesn¹t equate to compromise. "I don¹t believe the only civil outcome is compromise."  

In addition to Hillel, the event was sponsored by Interfaith Youth Core and AshokaU, an association that promotes innovation in social programs.

Attendees also were treated to a congressional reception co-hosted by U.S. Reps. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), Sue Myrick (R-N.C.), Jared Polis (Colo.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Heath Shuler (D-N.C.).

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