School Spirit: College Students Are Increasingly Tolerant and Interested in Exploring Spirituality along with the Academic Staples. So Why Are Universities Reluctant to Meet Their Demands?

By Svoboda, Elizabeth | Science & Spirit, September-October 2005 | Go to article overview

School Spirit: College Students Are Increasingly Tolerant and Interested in Exploring Spirituality along with the Academic Staples. So Why Are Universities Reluctant to Meet Their Demands?


Svoboda, Elizabeth, Science & Spirit


when a phalanx of Westboro Baptist Church members converged on the Stanford University campus two years ago, waving "God Hates Fags" banners and decrying the evils of homosexuality, Shaowei Lin cringed. Many students bypassed the hatemongers without hesitating, their thoughts on more scholarly matters like papers and tests. But Lin, now a senior at Stanford and a member of the Chi Alpha Christian fellowship, couldn't suppress his disappointment. He felt the circuslike demonstration would encourage students to equate religion with dogmatism and intolerance. "That kind of hatred isn't Christ-like at all," he says.

In answer to the Westboro display, a number of student members of Stanford's Christian community organized a counter-demonstration on the quad. They hoisted signs that read "God Is Love," and instead of lashing out against homosexuals, they talked to onlookers about Christ's compassion for all people. The event, Lin says, generated discussion among students of all faiths, reminding them that holy mindsets don't have to be holier-than-thou. "Students here are very strong in their faith but accepting of people with different viewpoints," he says. "When I share my faith with people, I don't expect them to believe absolutely everything I say. In fact, I'd worry if they did."

The rally was a spontaneous one, staged by a handful of undergrads with a few hours to spare, but the spiritual attitude it reflected has acquired broad social significance for many scientists and statisticians, including a professor emeritus of higher education at the University of California, Los Angeles. Alexander Astin has been casting an inquisitive eye on college students' spiritual development and involvement since 2003, and last fall, he and his colleagues administered surveys to 112,232 first-year students at 236 American colleges and universities. Students' responses to questions like "Do you pray?" and "How would you describe your current views about spiritual/religious matters?" helped researchers assess the zeitgeist of spiritual life on campus.

Drawing sweeping conclusions about the spirituality of college students is about as easy as discerning the typical political perspective of a nation rent by a deep red-blue divide. Nevertheless, the researchers have extracted a few broad generalizations from the multiplicity of students' spiritual journeys. Among the marquee findings: Traditional measures of devotion are at an all-time low, with less than half of current students saying they attend religious services frequently. Still, four in five students indicate they are interested in spirituality and "believe in the sacredness of life." They're eager to learn more--two-thirds say college should help them develop personal values--and they see a variety of paths to enlightenment: Sixty-four percent agree that most people can grow spiritually without being religious.

The split the study reveals between students' "religiousness" and their "spirituality" is, in fact, surprisingly pronounced. "People think of spirituality as a more inclusive, generic construct," Astin explains. "All students seeking to give meaning to the events of their lives are going about a spiritual task." Students who see themselves as being very spiritual have a high self-reported "ethic of caring" and are likely to express interest in a variety of religions and cultures. Those who describe themselves as being strongly religious, however, score high on a different set of indices, social conservatism and lack of religious skepticism among them.

This divide suggests religiousness and spirituality do not necessarily coexist among today's college students, and that many undergraduates are coming to identify the pursuit of self-examination as an alternative to church attendance. The notion that organized religious ritual may not be the only way to practice spirituality may explain the numbers gap between self-described spirituality and religiousness, but some critics argue that separating religion from spirituality in a meaningful way--as the UCLA study attempts to do--is too simplistic a proposition. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

School Spirit: College Students Are Increasingly Tolerant and Interested in Exploring Spirituality along with the Academic Staples. So Why Are Universities Reluctant to Meet Their Demands?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.