Another opinion?

<p>There is a post on Student's Review (three years old) by a gal at Swarthmore who says she's had a fair amount of hostility directed at her because she's religious and she was surprised as the school is known for its tolerance. I wondered if anyone else had an opinion about this. I didn't see any info on the website on how to contact people from the campus organizations to ask this question.</p>

<p>It would surprise me but there are two sides to every story; Swat is a very tolerant place, and the Quaker tradition seems to ground a lot of the school's policies and attitudes. I have been reading the essays in the recent book, "The Meaning of Swarthmore," which you can find on the college's website. I have been very impressed at the college's impact on the lives of its alumni/ae. So I would not hold one three-year-old opinion against this remarkable LAC.</p>

<p>I don't think you would find many colleges that are more tolerant and respectful of personal religious beliefs. For example, the Swarthmore student body voted (twice) to disband sororites in the 1930s with the primary rationale for the vote being that sororities did not accept Jewish members.</p>

<p>On the other hand, I suspect you would find few colleges less tolerant of beating people over the head with religious beliefs, particularly when they cross over into politics.</p>

<p>So what about the StudentReview opinion? Probably the same girl who wrote a similar editorial in the school newspaper back in 2000.</p>

<p>I think there are a two issues here that could contribute to a feeling of alienation:</p>

<p>First, active religious participation among college kids is pretty darn low. So, if someone is devoutly religious to the point of religious services being a major component of their student identity, they are going to feel in the minority at virtually any campus. This is nothing new. I don't know a single person at Williams 30 years ago who attended church services on a regular basis.</p>

<p>Second, there are some people who wear their religions on their sleeves, particularly in a way that could best be described as political. For example, if Jerry Falwell's kid went to Swarthmore and went around telling people that homosexuality is a sin, I am quite certain that the kid would be met with a pretty cold shoulder and would feel "under attack" for religious beliefs. Likewise for a Muslim student who publicly supported suicide bombing in Israel. This is simply an inevitable consequence of blurring the lines of religion and politics.</p>

<p>As for organized religious groups on the Swat campus, here is the link:</p>

<p><a href=""&gt;;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>I'm sure the participation varies greatly, subject to the small student body and low active participation in general among college students. However, the numbers for weekly attendance that I say (again from 2000) were 30 at the weekly Catholic Mass, 30 for the weekly Jewish services, 20 for the Christian Fellowship, 20 for the Protestant Fellowship, and 3 for the Muslim group.</p>

<p>In addition, some of the cultural groups on campus (Southeast Asian, Korean, etc.) probably provide some religious activity centered around major holidays. Likewise, there are ethnic communities in Philadelphia (Muslim Mosques, Nepalese, etc.) that are accessible.</p>

<p>Thank you for the input - I found a similar question lumped with several others posed to current students on livejournal by a prospective student and the answers were interesting. D is not political, not confrontational at all, but has a personal faith which is very important to her. She has experienced being persecuted for it, being the only one but tolerated, being one of a few, and being surrounded by people who are like her, and could live with any of those situations. She has emailed the contact given for any campus org that picqued her interest at several schools to see what kind of response she gets, but Swarthmore orgs don't have email contact addresses and I thought I'd see what I could find out here for her. The religious climate is only one of several variables she would factor into a final decision about a school, but she would want an idea of what could reasonably be expected before making a decision.</p>

<p>I am glad to be able to say that my daughter never experienced anything negative at Swarthmore as a result of her beliefs. She was actively part of the Swarthmore Protestant Community, a quiet group that met twice a week. The times she spent with those in the group were extremely valuable to her (she graduated last year) and the support she gained through the contacts there was wonderful. Interestingly, a variety of faiths were represented by group members, Christian and non-Christian alike--just one more aspect of the wonderful diversity to be found there.</p>