Bethune College, a Calcutta university, has added ‘humanity’ as a religion option on their undergraduate college admissions forms. Prior forms have required applications to choose from major listed religions, such as Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism, Christianity, or ‘other.’ This new option allows for applicants who didn’t fit into any of the prior options to have a better, more accurate choice.

Mamata Ray Chaudhuri, principal of Bethune college, told The Millennium Post, “We have realised that some students are reluctant to mentioning their religion in the admission form. We appreciate their views as we feel that ‘Humanity’ is the true religion of mankind. So we have deliberately kept this category in the religion section. It was an unanimous decision on the part of our admission committee.”

Bethune College was established in 1879 as the first women’s college in Asia. This progressive decision opens the door to applicants who don’t belong to any major religion, but still allows their true belief system to be officially recognized on the college application.

Mamata Ray Chaudhuri also said about the decision, “We have noticed that some youngsters don’t want to disclose their religion. There were options like ‘non-believer’ but we thought that humanity is something that all the religions talk about. Humanity is above every religion.” With this perspective Chaudhuri shows a way to move forward from a place of divisiveness surrounding opposing religious beliefs to instead honor the power that acknowledging our shared humanity can hold.

Many students and alumni celebrated the change as a bold statement of inclusivity and progress. The official change to the application began on May 27.

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