Breakin’ with Buddha, W{holy} Queer, Demystifying American Indian Spirituality and Student Responses to Acts of Intolerance were just a few titles of the sessions held at “Coming Together,” an interfaith conference held at Yale this weekend.

From Thursday to Sunday, 115 students from colleges across the U.S. and Canada attended keynote addresses, panels and breakout sessions . The sessions centered on issues and challenges concerning the interfaith and religious communities at universities. The conference was organized by the Chaplain’s Office and two student steering committees headed by Maytal Saltiel, assistant University chaplain for special programs. The event aimed to bring together students involved in interfaith work to further develop that dialogue and learn techniques to bring back to their respective campuses, Saltiel said.

“The goal of the conference is to bring students together who are involved in interfaith work on their campuses to build bridges, create connections, exchange ideas on what interfaith work looks like, and have big picture idea conversations,” Saltiel said. “They can then go back to their home campuses and bring back this energy.”

Several Yale faculty members were featured, including psychology professor Marvin Chun, who spoke on happiness from a psychological viewpoint. Further, several administrators working in religious life on college campuses participated, including Harrison Blum, Mindfulness Programs coordinator at Northeastern University, who led the “Breakin’ with Buddha” session.

Students who attended the “Breakin’ with Buddha” session participated in standing and walking meditation as taught by Buddhist text, while simultaneously receiving basic hip hop instruction. The session ended with an improvisational movement workshop.

“It’s a big accomplishment and celebration when we connect people from different faith groups. It increases students’ connectivity to their own traditions and also deepens their appreciation for others,” Blum said. “So to bring that to a national and even international level creates a sense that we are not alone. Commitment to faith, morality and religiosity is a common value of young people today.”

The breakout session titled “Student Responses to Acts of Intolerance,” was a conversation led by two student members of Emory College’s interreligous council, Noam Kantor and Berit Reisenauer.

On Oct. 5, Kantor said, a swastika was spray painted on the wall of one of the Jewish fraternity houses at Emory, similar to the incident that happened on Yale’s Old Campus that same month. The hate crime, Kantor said, called for difficult conversations on campus, and motivated Kantor and Reisenauer to lead a breakout session on this theme at the conference.

Reisenauer said these are controversial topics, but the Emory community has experience dealing with acts of intolerance very directly. This kind of information and experiences need to be shared, she added.

The breakout session was planned well before the shooting at UNC Chapel Hill, Reisenauer said, but also became a comfortable space to talk about these tragic events.

“We live in a diverse society. There’s a great deal of prejudice, racism and hate crimes. To stop these things, programs like this are very important,” said Jawad Awan, president of the Muslim Students Association at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. “It’s really important that we break down the walls between us and increase dialogue to achieve serious peace.”

Other students also said it is essential to foster dialogue in order to resolve social and religious conflicts. Engaging in face-to-face dialogue about these contentious issues, instead of arguing over them online anonymously, allows one to make informed and honest judgments, said Katie Ottley, a student at the University of Regina.

Kellee Richards ’16, a chaplaincy fellow and member of a Coming Together steering committee, explained that most Yale students involved in the conference also helped coordinate it.

The Coming Together conference was started at Princeton University in 2005 by the Association of College and University Religious Affairs — a professional organization for chaplains. The conference moves from campus to campus, and Yale hosted the seventh edition.