Does College Affect Religion?

By Jennifer Rodriguez

College can be a time of many tests, including the test of faith. Youngstown State University is a school with students coming from different backgrounds and religions. Religious clubs and organizations are available to students to provide support.

Being in these clubs can provide guidance and meaningful discussions about a student’s faith. Taking classes on religion can require intense analyzation, so it helps to be a part of a club that reinforces a student to keep their faith.

According to Tacibaht Turel, adviser of the Muslim Student Association, not many students join these organizations.

“Whether the students’ faith increases or decreases, I think they get a positive impact by being in college if it improves their critical thinking,” Turel said.

Gulay Yazar, president of the MSA, said she got involved with the club because she felt it was important to have a platform where all students could gain information on the Muslim faith.

“I get calls from non-Muslims inquiring, with all the stuff that’s going on in the name of Islam … so I think it’s good that it’s there,” she said.

There are about 40-50 students involved in the MSA. The club is open to people of all religious beliefs. Joining clubs like this can help a student find support.

Monica Figueroa, former president of the Coalition for Christian Outreach, said joining her club reminded her she wasn’t alone. She said it was challenging finding a balance between faith and education.

“Sometimes statements would be made in science about evolution that contradicted what I believe in,” Figueroa said. “I had to find a balance between what I was learning, my own faith and what I was supposed to say academically, if I wanted a good grade.”

Time management is a struggle for many students, especially when a student is involved in church activities on top of college extra-curricular activities. Figueroa said she felt like she was abandoning people who counted on her because school was a priority.

“It was difficult,” she said. “I had to step back from ministries because of time.”

According to a study done by The Social Science Research Council in 2007, 64 percent of students reported a decline in service attendance. This doesn’t necessarily mean there is a drop in faith, but some students just can’t fit it in their schedule.

College can be a time where it’s tempting to drink and party with friends, but for some students, abstaining from this isn’t a problem.

Figueroa said attending college doesn’t make her feel any extra pressure.

“I didn’t feel peer pressure to party because of the group of people I surrounded myself with. Instead, I started to become somewhat of an advocate for Christianity and I owned that role,” Figueroa said. “I became someone people could go to [because of my faith].”