Clubs and unofficial groups help bring religious diversity to campus

The reflection room holds copies of many religious texts to read.
Courtney Lucero | The Scribe
Dec. 7, 2015

Rachel Librach
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Although a majority of the official religious clubs on campus are Christian or Catholic, there are also other religious groups who meet to pray in the Reflection Room on the second floor of the Kraemer Family Library.

Jeff Scholes, associate professor of philosophy and the director of the Center for Religious Diversity and Public Life, said that other clubs on campus, despite not having been formed purely on a religious basis, can still practice their faith within that club.

He said the Saudi Students Club and the Asian Pacific Islander Student Union are ethnically and geographically defined clubs that also incorporate religious practices.

Moulay Aouragh, senior mechanical engineering major, meets with a few other Muslim students during certain times of the day for prayer.

“We are a private, unofficial group that gather together and set up a time to pray. Sometimes, about five to eight students show up,” Aouragh said.

“We have never really looked into forming a club because we don’t have a large community of students and it would be difficult to keep going. If we had a large community and people actually wanted to join, then yeah, we would form a club,” he said.

Catholic FIRE, which started a year ago, has seen a significant increase in student participants.

“We have mass every Sunday in the UC and last year we only had a couple people, but this year we have about 20 people who come every Sunday and it’s just really nice to see that,” said Veronica Carriedo, junior Spanish and elementary education double-major and president of Catholic FIRE.

She said 15-20 people attend Monday Bible study.

Carriedo said it is convenient to hold Sunday mass at the University Center since many members live in the dorms and there is free parking for commuters on the weekends.

The Latter-Day Saints Student Association organizes a lesson plan every week and encourages members and students who are interested in learning more about the religion to join.

“We hold an Institute of Religion every week, which is a lesson plan set up by the church. These institutes are open for members of our church and anyone curious to learn more about our faith,” said Erica Erickson, junior psychology major and president.

Erickson said she thinks UCCS is becoming more inclusive and is offering other outlets for students to feel comfortable practicing their religion.

“I think there really is great religious diversity on campus. I have seen many Christian and Catholic groups and I also see a lot more Muslims practicing here on campus using the Reflection Room in the Library. There’s copies of the Quran in there next to copies of the Bible. It is very inclusive,” she said.

Scholes said an inter-faith club could help promote minority religions.

“I’m hoping that an interfaith club starts on campus in which people of different religious backgrounds can come together and talk about the differences between them in a safe and civil environment. I think that is probably the most feasible starting point for getting the minority religions more involved,” he said.

“That said, there’s no restrictions on religious groups forming on campus. I am behind an inter-faith club and I hope it takes off, but it’s going to have to be student driven,” he added.