Wide range of religious options available

Laura Andrews

As a freshman it can be difficult to find a place on the ISU campus. Becoming involved in one of Iowa State’s 39 religious groups or one of the many worship places in Ames can help this problem.

Iowa State offers a wide variety of religious and spiritual groups. Some of the groups are large, such as The Salt Company, while other are smaller, such as the Karma Kagyu Study Group. Either way, incoming students should be able to find something that fits their life.

“There is really something for everyone, whether you like the larger group or smaller group,” said Cody Cline, president of The Salt Company and senior in agricultural business. “I say check it out and figure out what fits you best and really get involved in that one group.”

Victor Raymond, vice president of the ISU Pagan Community and graduate student in sociology, echoed Cline’s thoughts.

“There are a lot of different religions represented here in the student organizations,” Raymond said. “I think it’s worth while for them [freshmen] to explore and find the place that is most comfortable for them.”

Some groups target certain students, such as the Church in Ames at ISU, which seeks to help international students. Another example is Destino, a Christian group, which focuses on Latino and Hispanic students. ISU Hillel is another group and its focus is on Jewish students.

Keeping the values students come to college with can also be a challenge for incoming students.

“It’s accountability and growth with others and like anything, it requires training and being somewhat equipped to deal with what if and why, and we [The Salt Company] can help with that,” Cline said.

Timothy Mullaney, coordinator of Karma Kagyu Study Group – a Buddhist group – thinks values that are already deeply implanted are very important to maintaining religious values.

“Hopefully all that is good about their religious training is deeply instilled by the time they come to ISU,” Mullaney said. “It’s not something to save for Sunday or Saturday or whatever their faith tradition might designate as a Sabbath. It’s more like the air you breathe, it’s always there.”

Mullaney also suggests meditation, no matter what a person’s religion might be.

For the ISU Pagan Community, reconciling with nature helps members maintain their values.

“What is important to us as a group is we spend some time reconnecting with nature,” Raymond said. “Simply to get away from every day activities and just being able to interact with the outdoors is hanging onto religious beliefs.”

Overall, the freshman year is an important and hard time, and organizations have realized this by implementing freshmen programs. The Salt Company offers a freshmen group on Sunday nights during the school year.

“That freshman year – it’s really crucial; you’re looking for acceptance,” Cline said. “We really value that freshman year because you have more free time and you decide how to spend that time, what to give your life to. We want to give them the view that college is more than about partying, and there is something bigger and we want to equip them with that.”

For more information about religious or spiritual groups and other groups at Iowa State go to www.sodb.stuorg.iastate.edu.