Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: New York City
When we learned our S was accepted by Chapman, we had an initial concern because we learned it was founded by the Disciples of Christ in the l9th century. To us, back East, that name sounded like some kind of fundamentalist Christian kind of place.
Bzzzt! We were l00 percent wrong.
We learned that DOC founders were, and are, from a very progressive Protestant Christianity, compared to us as "culturally, more like Unitarians." Since we're Jewish, I'm grasping for the right words to describe DOC, but the ones that come to mind first are: ethical, non-proseltyzing, tolerant, progressive, liberal, mainstream. The DOC's l9th century name just through us off until we researched it. Since my H is a Reform rabbi, we really wanted to know about whether S would be able to function okay there; it mattered to us a lot. Turns out, absolutely no problems, in fact, a very accepting environment for people of all other faiths OR no faith. Completely open.
For those students who grew up in DOC homes, it's a great place because they have several DOC ministers on staff, housed in the Fish Interfaith Center. But they form a multi-faith staff alongside others from other faiths. So Fish Center offers a genuine interfaith setting, but only for those who seek it out. Nobody will bother anybody across the campus.
The Fish Interfaith Center is a quiet gem of a building, just beautiful and open to all. It's not large, but inside it's amazing, with glass windows, modern architecture and open views to the sunset. The chapels provide worship spaces for students from every faith - Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, and Muslim. There's also a Zen Buddhist garden and reflecting pool there for meditation.
There's a campus Hillel group ("small but mighty") plus the usual range of student-based religious clubs for many faiths. Chapman's Holocaust Resource Center is noteworthy, too; its director just won a national award and President Doti flew to NYC to stand by her as she accepted it. Actually, Chapman houses the HRC on its campus, but that brings in a community-based interest in that part of world history. Just an interesting feature of that campus.
But a student does not have to participate in ANY of these offerings or services. Most don't, in fact. (Just we needed to know whether our practicing Jewish kid could be comfortable there, so we inquired heavily about what DOC was all about.)
DOC has no compulsory chapel, ever. There is an optional convocation to attend at the beginning and end of each year, I think, sort of an assembly, but again, not required. Many colleges have these, by the way. Chapman has no academic distribution requirement to take a course in religion, either.
I'm told that for a DOC student, Chapman is especially nice but for most everyone else, they wouldn't even know DOC existed, except for occasional appreciative mention in the catalogue. And they deserve that mention. The founders of the college, back in the l9th century, were impressive pioneers who cared about education and humane values. From their own beginnings, however, it was never a religious format that impinged on any other group. Progressive, then and now.
XYZMOM, it sounds like a pretty random comment you heard that Chapman is conservative-moderate leaning! Some students are, but I think most are either indifferent to politics or live in the center/left area.
I can guess where the comment might have originated. Chapman is located in the middle of Orange County, which votes Republican. There's a huge evangelical cathedral a mile away, that has absolutely nothing to do with the university. It was featured nationally as a venue when President Obama debated its famous right-wing minister there, before the election. Again, nothing to do with Chapman.
Also, some -- not all -- students come from comfortable or wealthy homes in California, so may dress the part.
My own S spends most of his time inside the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts, which is the opposite of conservative, politically speaking. Elsewhere on campus, as you stroll around, you'll also see Chapman's business undergrad majors, some MBA's, Law School and Psychology Grad students, plus grad students in film, and undergrads with a variety of majors including some in film. So it's quite a range of lifestyles, undergrad and graduate (up to masters level only; no Ph.D).
My son's other major is in History, and I know he wouldn't be comfortable in anything like a conservative hotbed in terms of classroom discussion. He finds a range, and the professors very accessible and open-minded.
So, forget about "the housewives of Orange County" and just look more closely at Chapman. I really enjoy that our son goes there. His friends whom we've met, from all kinds of backgrounds, regions and nations, are just delightful people.
Last edited by paying3tuitions; 04-09-2010 at 10:46 PM.