Sending young students off to college does not have to mean stripping them of their religious upbringing. In fact, students at The University of Iowa have dozens of campus organizations with which to affiliate. These groups not only provide a familiar atmosphere for worship, they can provide an opportunity to meet students with similar beliefs.
Though images of decadent campus revelry often run rampant in the minds of concerned parents, those with students at the University can rest assured that more than half the student population attends an organized religious event at least once a month, according to The Daily Iowan. The Universitys student newspaper last year conducted an informal random survey of 150 students about their religious practices and also found that one in five students attend such events three or more times a month.
Carrie Patelski, a senior from Sioux City, heard about a retreat sponsored by the Newman Catholic Center from a friend during her first year. The experience, she says, was wonderful, and she has been involved with the center ever since, spending about five hours there per week.
"At the retreat, which was led by students, I got to meet a lot of people who shared my faith, people who felt the same way about the world. It was one of the best things," she says. "Ive met some of my closest friends at the center."
Besides offering students a relaxed, informal mass each week, the center provides many opportunities for students to get involved with community service projects and provides information to people who are interested in the Catholic faith.
For more than fifty years, the Aliber-Hillel Jewish Student Center has been serving the needs of Jewish students and faculty members on campus. The center, which also welcomes non-Jewish students, provides a variety of social events, including intramural sports, cooking classes, and Lake Macbride boat outings, as well as services and celebrations. The center also features a Judaica library and a wealth of information on scholarship listings and job opportunities.
Alexander Rubinow, a junior from Northbrook, Ill., serves as the centers vice president. He became involved during his first year, after hearing about the center from a high school acquaintance.
"Its a place to meet other Jewish students," he says. "The University of Iowa is the only university in the state with a building for a Jewish center."
Arts groups like Voices of Soul offer yet another opportunity for students to come together and celebrate their faith. Voices of Soul is a gospel choir devoted to the musical heritage of African American people and is open to students of all faiths and backgrounds.
What began as an experiment to show the need for acceptance of Black music in the Iowa City area has over the decades blossomed into a musical force with performances rich in cultural tradition that reach a large and diverse audience.
Other campus religious groups include the Alpha, Bahai, Baptist Student Union, the Christian Science Organization, Hindu Swayamsewak Sangh, International Meditation Society, the Islam Studies Group, the LatterDay Saints Student Association, Lutheran Campus Ministry, Muslim Student Association, the Orthodox Christian Fellowship, the River City Pagan Community, the University Zen Students Association, Wesley House, and the Orthodox Christian Fellowship.
In addition to the denominational Christian organizations, several interdenominational organizations sponsor events and programs. They include Campus Crusade for Christ, Campus Christian Fellowship, Believers in Jesus Christ, Campus Bible Fellowship, Geneva Community, Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, Living Word Campus Fellowship, Solid Rock Campus Ministry, United Campus Ministry, and Victory Campus Ministry.
A complete listing of these groups is available through the Universitys web site for student organizations at http://www.imuis.uiowa.edu/osl/studorgs.html