Public Universities Provide Support for Religious College Students Through Forums & Religion Based Dorms

By Ashley Dorsey and Jonelle Bowen, Row 3

The University of Maryland's Student Union was host to a three-part series of talks about connecting with the Christian faith as a college student.  This is not the first time public universities have been seen providing students with an opportunity to get closer to their faith through their college. In 2013, Troy University made headlines for their religion based dorm, which was created in an effort to provide a comfortable environment for students to connect with their religion and like minded students.
A religion based discussion led in the Troy University dorm . CreditCary Norton for The New York Times
 Specialized religious housing is popping up across the country and are creating a different college experience for students.  Though the religious based dorm did raise concerns, the University maintained that they were meeting a student demand with the dorms and it did not conflict with the US Constitution. The Troy University religious housing was created as a result of the Newman Student Housing Fund which works in conjunction with the Catholic Ministry to create Catholic living areas for student across the country. A dorm similar to the one built at Troy University was opened at Texas A&M University campus in Kingsville by the Newman Student Housing Fund.

For many, attending a public university does not have to be a trade off for remaining strong with their religion. 
However without college organizations to assist and provide guidance, maintaining a balance can be difficult for some.  This is where Charles Wesley, a university chapter mission director, came in for Christian students at the University of Maryland. “The main focus of the series was to kind of express our mission of how to live as a Christian … that being a full-time student on a university campus, how does one go about living the Christian faith radically and quite visibly in the fast pace and often difficult life of a student,” said Wesley.  The three talks each provided students with a different focus relevant to the lives of college students.  The topics included time management, student lives and an open panel. Wesley stated that the series' purpose was to focus on“how [the students] are supposed to defend [their Christian faith] and support it, and live out their faith in the context of everyday life situations." While this recent talk series focus on Christianity, the University of Maryland boasts 63 religion based student organizations on campus. For those schools who are unable to provide as drastic religious resources as religion based dorms, these talks seem to be a popular alternative. 

At the University of Arizona, a University Religious Council is composed of religious directors and ministers from the various religious organizations on the campus. 
The Council meets monthly for lunch to discuss ways that they can best provide the students with spiritual growth and opportunities with in areas such as resident life and school publications. 

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