posted on: Thursday April 11, 2019
by Savannah Plaisted ’21
Upon coming to Providence College, students are told that their religious affiliation or lack thereof is not a necessary component to attend. They are told that they can participate in PC’s religious services or decide not to, and the only thing they are required to do is take two theology courses to fulfill the core.
Now, the concept of not having to attend any sort of services or religious events is, of course, true; however, what the College fails to tell students is that said theology courses must be “through a Christian lens.”
When beginning to look into one’s options for theology cores, someone who isn’t Catholic may be drawn to something like The Church and Major World Religions course, but after further analysis, one will find that even this course is taught through a Christian lens.
Not only should the theology department make edits to their curriculum, but the DWC department should do the same, given that on many teams, there is little to no mention of religions other than Catholicism while studying “Western Civilization.” Most teams get to decide what they teach, yet oftentimes they choose to stick to Catholicism.
Some students have even shared experiences of having no mention of any other religion, which is simply wrong given that excluding parts of history is not the proper way to teach it.
Accordingly, in order to teach Catholicism properly in the first place, professors should be more inclined to teach the religion objectively so as to allow their own students to decide what they believe in, rather than imposing their own beliefs on their students.
It is not acceptable for professors to grade students according to their own beliefs either; students should not have to alter the way they write for more conservative professors just to receive an A on a paper.
After learning about the missions of the Church, it is very clear that attempting to reach greater populations of people and conversion are large components, thus the College may see that same idea as one of their missions to an extent.
PC does offer services to those who would like to convert and complete as many sacraments as they can at this age, which is brilliant for those who would like to do so.
It is very clear that coming from a nonreligious perspective, the social component of going to a religiously affiliated school is not an issue, as most people on campus are not judgmental and tend to keep their beliefs close and personal, which is greatly appreciated by those that do not associate with a religion.
However, the College not only imposes their Catholic beliefs via their options in classes, they also place crucifixes in the lobbies of every dorm hall. It is completely understandable and valid to place crucifixes and images of icons in classrooms, given that they are academic buildings associated more closely with the College.
On the other hand, placing them in the buildings where students live is less appealing given that not everyone living in those buildings appreciates them in the same way, and those buildings should feel like home to them.
Not only was it very uncomfortable to come back from spring break to see that more crucifixes had been placed on each floor of Suites Hall, but there were also postcards inserted under each person’s door calling for prayers.
When coming into dorm buildings, everyone should feel welcomed and accepted regardless of their beliefs, and religious ornaments being hung up does not allow all students to feel that way.
With that, the College should strongly consider removing religious paraphernalia from their dorm rooms and should also look to teach their core classes from a more objective perspective.
College is a hard enough transition as it is—it should not be made harder by attending a school where not all students feel completely accepted.