Christianity only religion with formal groups on campus

Feb. 29, 2016

Hannah Harvey
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College is a time for young adults to explore their surroundings and create an open-minded perspective about the world. Being open to religion can be a great, inclusive way of doing so.

There are 10 Christian clubs on campus, but there are no organizations or clubs of faiths other than Christianity at UCCS.

According to Robyn Marschke, director of Institutional Research, there is a lack of data concerning religion on campus.

“There aren’t concrete numbers for representations and the response rate is typically low and not generalizable,” said Marschke.

Marschke said if students report any religious affiliation, it is typically self-reported through surveys sent out by the
Institutional Research Office.

The office last sent a diversity survey to students in 2011.

Out of 863 responses, 36.15 percent of participants agreed that UCCS would stand up against discrimination based on religious beliefs.

Nine percent of students said that their religious beliefs were represented in student life.

No denominational information was reported.

“We typically don’t ask about denominations because there has not been a need,” said Marschke.

Many of the Christian clubs on campus are inclusive of students who are curious about Christianity, according to senior chemistry major Ryan Stahl.

Stahl is the president of Christ in Action, a non-denominational Christian club on campus.

“We host a Bible talk and anyone is welcome to come. We encourage students of other religions to come; it’s great having multiple views,” said Stahl.

There are mostly positive reactions from students when they are approached about religion or becoming a part of the club, according to Stahl.

Christianity has a distinct advantage on campus, according to Jeff Scholes, director of the Center for Religious Diversity and Public Life.

“There is probably a reluctance to advertise and be public. Christians own the ability to be public without fear of retribution,” said Scholes.

Many millennials, generally identified as anyone born between the early ‘80s and early 2000s, may identify as agnostic or atheist. This might be due to their development of religious consciousness, according to philosophy instructor Erik Hanson.

There are childhood, adolescent and adult understandings of faith that fall along a spectrum, he said.

“Any person can be along the spectrum at any time in their lives. You can have 24-year-olds who are ‘early adults’ in faith or 35-year-olds who are ‘adolescents’ in faith.”

“Adolescence is where there is a discovery of a tension between what they learn and the rest of the world. I think that a lot of students are somewhere in the adolescence stage or they have peaked the adolescent stage before they got to college,” said Hanson.

A student does not have to identify with or practice a specific religion to be interested in it, according to Scholes.

“In general, college is a time for students to be into ideas they haven’t encountered before. Students should approach student life
with openness to tolerance,” said Scholes.

Social media may also have an impact on what religion someone identifies with, according to Hanson.

“Pop culture is not a benign influence. There’s an awareness that not everything (students) see is true, but (students) don’t always know how to discern what they see as legitimate authority. Many students surround themselves with others just like them,” said Hanson.

UCCS has a prayer room on the second floor of the library that is open to all religions. The room contains texts from several religions, and is used by some students who want to practice without establishing a formal club.

“UCCS has done a great job accommodating, but they aren’t that good at advertising,” said Stahl.

Stahl said students can start an open-minded, positive dialogue about religion on campus.

“I think a lot of people have a lot of opinions. Even though you see varying opinions, you need to fact check and see the source for yourself.”