Office Of Multicultural Affairs

The Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) was established in 2002 to support the College’s efforts to attract, recruit, and serve both students of color and international students. Our mission is to create and sustain an environment that encourages and embraces the contributions of people from a variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Le Provoc: Multicultural Affairs Article #2

" At Assumption, the word diversity has been downplayed to only refer to racial diversity. As a result, we tend to forget that there are other forms of diversity, such as gender diversity, sexual diversity, and, in this case, religious diversity. Assumption College is a Catholic institution where religion and faith are taken seriously as an integral part of the human experience, and, at Assumption several Catholic traditions are upheld. As a non-Catholic Christian at Assumption, I sometimes find myself feeling out-of-place, and although Assumption is welcoming to people of all religious faiths, I can't help but find myself shying away from activities held in the Chapel of the Holy Spirit, such as candlelight prayer, and daily mass. Although my feelings are not representative of the entire non-Catholic population at Assumption, I know, through several conversations, that there are other students who share my sentiments. At a point, I asked myself, "If I, a Christian at Assumption, sometimes felt out-of-place, how must other students of different faiths, specifically Muslims, feel about going to Assumption, a Catholic institution?" This question resulted in a series of discussions, which eventually led to my interest in writing this article.

You are probably asking, "Why is he concerned specifically with how Muslims feel about attending Assumption?" In order for you to understand why such a question even came to mind, it is important that I give you a brief personal history of my life. I was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria, in West Africa. In Nigeria, the two major religions are Christianity and Islam. We also have a variety of other religions which tend to vary regionally. As a result, I have been highly exposed to Islam since my childhood. I grew up having quite a number of Muslim friends who, even after middle school and high school, I am still in close contact with. As a result, during the times I felt out-of-place, I always wondered what their experiences were, or would have been, if they were enrolled in other Catholic institutions. In asking this question, I decided to find out what the Muslim population at Assumption was, as I am yet to meet any Muslim students at Assumption. My research opened my eyes to a lot of things.

In my research, I was unable to find data on the student body as a whole, but I was able to get data on the freshman and senior class from the Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP) Freshman Survey and the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). In the 2008 CIRP Freshman survey, concerning students' current religious preference, of the 591 students who responded, 67.8 percent were Roman Catholic, and 0.0 percent were Islamic/Muslim. The data from NSSE concerning students' current religious preference in 2007 shows that, of the 125 seniors surveyed, 74 were Roman Catholic and none were Islamic/Muslim. This finding amazed me for reasons different from what you might expect. I was in no way expecting to find a high percentage of Islamic/Muslim enrollments, so these findings did not come as a shock to me, they merely proved my earlier assumptions. I was more amazed at how I had been oblivious to all the other religious faiths besides Catholicism and Islam. In my quest to raise awareness about one religious faith, I had subconsciously excluded a host of other religious faiths. I had ignored that fact that there were other religious faiths besides Catholicism and Islam, such as Hinduism, Judaism, Quakers, Later Day Saints and countless others.

At this point, you are probably wondering where I am going with all of this. My whole point is that as we go through our daily activities, we must remain cognizant of the fact that all people do not share similar religious beliefs, and in our expression of our own religious faiths, we should be respectful of all other religious faiths. We must ensure that Assumption continues to truly remain a welcoming environment for people of all faiths."
Usen Esiet '10
Vice President, ALANA Network

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