From civil unions to racism on zuntier.com

In two days time  (on the 6th of November) zuntier.com is marking its first anniversary. Since it’s launch, the project attracted various contributions which stimulated a varied and interesting dialogue ranging across different viewpoints and disciplines.

Civil Unions

Bill No 20 has been tabelled at the Houses of Parliament for discussion and ratification. This Bill aims to introduce civil unions for same-sex couples in Malta. The discussion is likely to go on top gear during the month of November, even on zuntier.com.

Parliament has to ensure that it enacts an effective legislation rather than a shabby motion. Civil Unions are being equated with marriage; and yet the public has been informed that both civil unions and marriage are completely different. This presents a problem: How can something be equal and different at the same time?

This confusion arises since, on the one hand the law is prescribing to Civil Unions the rights and obligations of Marriage whilst making it available to heterosexual couples as well. So should this be accepted by parliament? Why do we have a distinction at law but not in fact? Are civil unions something different or not?

Dialogue

Last month, Nadia Delicata reflected on the nature of Dialogue. Her piece prompts some thoughts: What does it mean for two parties to engage in dialogue? Does dialogue necessitate a change in position? Can real dialogue take place if both parties are sure of their fundamental beliefs?

Dialogue is often mistaken for discussion. The intention of dialogue is to go beyond discussion. Understanding takes precedence over convincing, experience becomes more important than argument, and sharing and mutual enrichment are preferable to finding faults in each argument.

Education

October was a hectic and tiring month. Parents have to get used to their daily routine and children have to juggle school commitments and extra-curricular activities At post-secondary and university level students have to settle in for a new year of studies, lecturers and tutors must deliver their lectures in an interesting and engaging manner and administrative staff must cope with a new influx of students. Education and schooling is thus on everyone’s mind.

zuntier.com carried two interesting pieces on the nature of the education system. Deirdre Morris explained how early childhood education can be the weak link in the education system. In her contribution to zuntier.com she listed some suggestions which could address some of the issues at stake.

Andre P. DeBattista questioned whether education could be reformed. He laid an emphasis on an educational system which gauges and fosters different talents from a very young age whilst offering a more individualistic and tailor-made educational experience.

Racism: University of Malta vs. Malta

Asma Dekna shared some of her experiences as a Muslim living in Malta. This post was followed by a feature with a specific focus on Inter-Cultural Dialogue in Malta. These two features revealed that life at University is much easier for those who profess a different religion or who may come from a different cultural background. Specifically, in respect of Muslim students studying at the University of Malta, the attitude of lecturers and students is very welcoming and this shows a great sign of increasing maturity and openness. This is something zuntier.com strives for.

Nonetheless, the students interviewed revealed that they feel very different when they step out of the University gates. “In the outside world”, as one student told us, things are different. They feel that many times they are looked at suspiciously and feel a sense of racism in their respect simply because they profess a different religion. Education, in our opinion, is the key which closes the door on racism and opens those of mutual respect and dialogue.

Freshers Week

This new academic year brought a new lease of life on campus. Numerous student organisations set up their stalls on campus. This was the first year where zuntier.com had its own stall. We are glad with the feedback we got from those who visited our stand and we are now in the process of engaging the new recruits in the various aspects of the work involved to keep zuntier.com alive!

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