Editor’s note: This is the fourth and final in a series of articles covering the topic of student of differing religions at Northwestern.
Northwestern is a college that heavily promotes the integration of faith and learning. As students go through the day, they are constantly involved in aspects pertaining to the Christian faith; the challenging of faith-influenced opinions; the consequent introspective questions about personal beliefs; the class periods with devotionals; and the regular chapel services.
However, how often do Christian students realize as they walk by a brick-laid cross in the sidewalk that perhaps the person walking the opposite direction is heading back to their dorm room ready to do their daily rosary prayer or meditation instead of going to D-groups or bible study?
This semester students have stepped up to share their stories to make NW students aware that this campus is not just a place for one religion. Their experiences and articles typically were reciprocated with two questions:
1) “Do the non-Christian students know what kind of community they are deciding to live in?”
Yes, they most certainly do. NW makes no bones about the fact it is a Christian college, proclaiming it via websites, social media pages and mission statements. Yet, NW draws students from all over the religious spectrum, among them are those who have converted from Christianity, those who have never experienced it and those who are Christian but not Reformed.
2) “Is it harmful to my own faith if I ask questions and seek to know more about these kinds of things?”
Students who were interviewed continue to welcome any and all questions that people may have regarding their beliefs.
They appreciate the growing and learning that accompanies attending a Christian college and have not let its different religious beliefs become a hindrance.
Many of these students, however, declined an interview because of the possible repercussions.
Attending chapel and immersing themselves in a worship service outside of their religious beliefs is difficult.
They are without a supportive environment for what they believe, which is a large test of self-discipline and endurance. It forces them to take the religion and culture shock in stride.
The responses to these articles have displayed a level of ignorance on campus. These students’ life stories are a window into which the student body can benefit from.
So much can be learned from listening to other people’s firsthand accounts of their lives.
Truly listening is a beneficial way to alleviate misconceptions. NW should seek to adopt an exploratory and accepting mindset that not only allows them to express who they are, but also to “encourage” others to share and be themselves.
This campus, under the mission of courageous learning and living, has a wonderful opportunity: to make bonds between students, support each other on the walk of life and approach each day as a 24-hour period in which students can experience an entirely new perspectives.