Catholic dorms coming to secular universities.

It’s no secret that young people tend to fall out of faith when they attend college.  There’s something about meeting new people who don’t share their views and learning that is toxic to the survival of religious faith.  Matt Zerrusen, president of Newman Student Housing Fund, has the solution: make sure Catholic students live around other Catholic students when they go to college.  This will help them resist the devil, who likes to sneak around amidst diversity.

Texas A&M and the Florida Institute of Technology are both about to build dorms for Catholic students.

Zerrusen said the intention of the dormitories is to provide a faith-based community, without requiring dramatic sacrifices of students – “you don’t have to memorize the Catechism to live here … but we’ll surround you with positive Catholic influences.”

Of course, other students can live there.

He says the residence hall at Florida Institute of Technology will be open to all students, not just Catholics. “My hope is that it would be a tool for evangelization for the rest of the campus.”

Oh, to be a student again.  :)  And to all non-Catholics living there, don’t worry…

“We’re not forcing anyone to go to church or even forcing them to talk about their faith … we are simply presenting a positive environment where students have the opportunity to make decisions based in sound Christian principle .”

But…

The dorms are meant to have a stricter alcohol policy and visiting hours than other dorms, with dorm rooms separated for the sexes and “obviously” a strict overnight guest policy.

I think that’s a great idea.  That will keep students who fell out of faith in high school, but who got dropped in those dorms by the family they’re trying to appease by staying in the closet, from crashing over with a guy or gal (or multiple guys or gals) in the regular dorms.

“St. John’s is the model we’re going after, and we’re just trying to give students a place on campus where if they want to express their faith and live a Catholic life, they have an opportunity to do so,” Zerrusen said.

Is there some rule on college campuses preventing people from living like a Catholic or expressing their faith?  I honestly wonder if there’s a university in the country where there isn’t a school-sanctioned group just for that type of student.  These dorms are not intended to unmake some form of oppression, they’re meant to shield students from discovering that ditching Catholic dogma is acceptable, and a lot more fun.  It’s to limit the exposure to new things.

In fact, that is the whole history of religion – dictating what you can or cannot look at, what experiences you are forbidden to enjoy, and even what thoughts you are allowed to think.  Of course college is anathema to faith.  That is precisely why I don’t think those dorms will achieve their goal.  It’s not just where the students live, it’s meeting other students and learning new facts about how the world works that helps lead students away from the dogma of ages past.

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About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.