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Ohio pastor visits UND, encourages debate over religion
Crowds gather to listen, dicuss and watch Tom Short speak behind library

John Edison

Sounds of debate echoed through the quad behind the Chester Fritz Library, as students gathered both in support of and against an evangelist on Friday.

The preacher, a pastor by the name of Tom Short, was brought to campus by a student organization called H2O.

According to Pat Schultz, member of H2O, Short is a pastor from Columbus, Ohio, and travels to college campuses around the nation for nine months out of the year.

Schultz said the goal of Short's visit to UND is basically two-fold. He said the first aspect was to create the opportunity for a free speech forum at UND, and the second was evangelism.

The arguing and debating that was seen by many students was all part of the plan, said Schultz, referring to the fact that Short was not just preaching, but also debating with students.

"Actually, that's what we want to have happen," he said. "[Students] get to hear both sides of the story."

Schultz stated that the dialogue aspect of the forum made the event interesting for students to listen. He said that Short provided students with something that is not often discussed on college campuses.

"Tom's side of the story is the side they are least likely to hear at UND," Schultz said.

Schultz said he spoke with some of the students who disagreed with Short and found that although they might not see eye-to-eye with him, they were not extremely upset with his presence.

"They wouldn't want to come out if they didn't want to enter into that debate," Schulz said.

Cassandra Jerde, a sophomore who spent much of the day arguing with Short, said she enjoyed the opportunity to debate.

She said she saw the discussion and joined it. She also said, however, that Short sometimes did not allow students to finish their thoughts.

"He was trying to give his thoughts out in a nice manner, but he was being rude about it," Jerde said of Short's tendency to interrupt her. "Even I had trouble not yelling at him sometimes."

She said she tried to keep yelling and disrespectful comments to herself because she wanted the debate to be productive.

"What's the point of bashing each other," Jerde said. "That's not going to get anyone anywhere."

Jerde stated that she did not feel very offended by Short's comments. "He is allowed to say whatever he wants," she said.

In support of Short

Schultz said Short works for a non-denominational organization called Great Commission Ministries (GCM), and is paid for what he does.

He said GCM's mission is putting churches in areas, such as college towns, where the youth population is high.

H2O is a Christian student group at UND that has ties to Cottonwood Community Church. The group has played a big part in bringing Short to campus over past two years, and in 1999.

The Dakota Student, September 14th, 2004