As a member of the Residence Life team at a very Catholic institution, I routinely address the holistic and spiritual needs of students. Providing students with an education rooted in Judeo-Christian values is a part of our mission. Many members of our institution’s leadership team are Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth. Although we are a liberal arts institution, Catholicism is ever present amongst the campus community. Therefore, the religious ties of our institution are just as strong as they were during its founding in 1950’s. With respect to my current role on-campus and the type of institution I serve, I am very much aware of Christian Privilege. Our campus has a chapel but no Moss or space for non-Catholic students to worship, “These cultural markers alienate those from non-Christian faith traditions and those who are agnostic or atheist, subtly designating them as “other.” (Seifert, 2007). In some ways, the norm of being Christian and/or Christianity further marginalizes members of the campus community. In order to truly create an inclusive campus community, my institution must develop resources for non-Christian students; as a member of the campus community, it is my responsibility to support all students. “The responsibility of educating the whole student includes creating a community in which all students feel safe to practice and share their spiritual …” (Seifert, 2007).
In addressing the spiritual needs of students and promoting their spiritual development, institutions should incorporate spiritual competency in their mission and curriculum. If institutions place as much emphasis on students’ spiritual competency as they do their academic competency, they can develop a student that is open and aware of the diverse religious needs of those around them. Currently, my institution’s diversity committee is focused on addressing the unique needs of marginalized groups on campus, as it relates to race and ethnicity.
Seifert, T. (May-June, 2007). Understanding Christian privilege: Managing the tensions of spiritual plurality (PDF)About Campus.
Collins, J. R., Hurts, J. C., & Jacobson, J. K. (May, 1987). The blind spot extended: Spirituality (PDF). Journal of College Student Personnel, pp. 274-276.