College students party, they get drunk, they have sex and they don't believe in God - or at least that's what the stereotypes tell us.
In today's society, many people criticize the “college experience” for causing students to “lose their religion,” but for many students, faith is an integral part of their collegiate years.
In fact, for many Geneseo students, religious faith plays a big role in their lives on and off-campus.
“College is all about learning who you are,” Chair of Geneseo's InterFaith Center Katherine Jones said. “It allows you to independently question how you can begin to use your heart and spirit and faith to impact your own life.”
For Geneseo students. the IFC serves as a place where people of any faith can worship and celebrate their spirituality with their peers. Currently it is home to three main student faith groups, the first being Geneseo Hillel.
Hillel is the Jewish organization on campus and is part of a regional division of Hillel groups in the Rochester area. The group provides an opportunity for those of Jewish faith to worship on campus, especially since there is no synagogue in the Geneseo area.
Also included in the student faith groups is the Geneseo Wesley Fellowship, which is a Christian-Faith ministry based in the United Methodist tradition and is run by campus minister Katie Kreutter. Wesley not only holds weekly service meetings with food and topical discussion but also offers students a chance to participate in an online faith discussion called the Lifetree Cafe.
The third group is the Newman Catholic Campus Ministry, which is run by director Mike Sauter. Newman holds meetings and conducts dinners in the center but is also currently working with and participating in services with the surrounding Catholic community.
“We're InterFaith, so although we only have three groups represented here, we're open to any student who's searching for support or answers,” Jones said. “In terms of reaching out more broadly, things are still shaky at best … but we are putting some great programs in place.”
This year, Jones says that she'd not only like to get the three current groups together more often but she'd also like to join up with other groups on campus in order to hold events aimed at addressing major issues happening in the world today.
“We're searching for answers to the rather vast problems in this world … whether it be the things that are happening Syria or things that are happening in the Middle East with Israel and Palestine or even things in our own country, like poverty and immigration,” she said.
Jones says that she wants the IFC to be a welcoming place for those types of discussions to develop between people of all faiths and backgrounds.
“We want to think about how we can come at an issue not just from our heads but from our hearts and from our souls and from our spirits,” she said. “Especially from a position of faith.”