Main Navigation

Dialogue on Tolerance will feature U essay winners

The University of Utah and Brigham Young University’s International Center for Law and Religion Studies together will convene a “Dialogue on Tolerance” at the Utah State Capitol this week to explore how we can live together more respectfully and find common ground.

Gov. Spencer Cox and the leaders of Tolerance Means Dialogues will host a facilitated dialogue at the Utah State Capitol on Monday, Oct. 30, 2023 from 5 – 6:15 p.m. After a moderated panel discussion about recent bipartisan compromises in the state, two students from Brigham Young University and two students from the University of Utah will read the essays they wrote in response to this question: “What can we learn about bridging divides in America today?”

The Tolerance Means Dialogues are public discussions designed to bring together students and thought leaders to find more constructive approaches to living together in a pluralistic society. “As the most diverse generations, Millennials and Gen Z are already navigating these issues, so they are uniquely situated to chart the way forward and break through impasses,” the group’s website says.

Cox will open the discussion. Co-founders of the Dialogues, Yale Professor William Eskridge and University of Illinois Professor Robin Fretwell Wilson will frame the dialogue, together with Rep. Mike Petersen. And Elizabeth Clark, associate director of BYU’s International Center for Law and Religion Studies, and Jason Perry, director of the U’s Hinckley Institute of Politics and VP for Government Relations will moderate the discussion.

Then, the universities’ scholarship-winning essayists take center stage. Two essays have been chosen from each participating university on the topic. The winners include: University of Utah Undergraduate Winner Aspen Marshall, a student Atmospheric Sciences, and University of Utah Graduate Winner Pheng Lor, who is studying Environmental Humanities.

Often, Marshall writes, “the world is painted in black-or-white lenses. If you have an opinion, it must be on one side of the issue. It can’t be a mix of both sides. Obviously, that immediately presents a huge issue. Life is a lot more complicated than opinion A or opinion B.” That binary approach doesn’t explain conflicted feelings about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Marshall says.

“I believe that people should seek to find a common ground when thinking about the conflict. Perhaps it’s possible to support Palestine but denounce Hamas killing Israeli civilians. Maybe it’s possible to support Israel but denounce Israel killing Palestinian civilians. Why can’t we find a moral common ground?”

All four student winners will read their essays.

The Dialogue is open to the public at the Capitol Board Room and will be followed by a reception at the Capitol Rotunda at 6:15 pm. Closing remarks will be given by Utah Senate President Stuart Adams.

The Dialogue is also available virtually, at this link:

Join Zoom Meeting: Meeting ID: 820 1346 3934