Survey seeks students’ opinions on campus spiritual environment


Sarah E. Cruz, Staff Writer

On March 1, students received an email asking them to participate in a survey concerning their perceptions of the spiritual and religious atmosphere of Marywood. Students that completed the survey were entered in a raffle for a chance to win one of ten $25 Visa gift cards.

Sponsored by the Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), the Campus Religious and Spiritual Climate Survey is “designed to assist campus leaders as they navigate the challenges and possibilities that religious and worldview diversity bring to higher education institutions,” stated the IFYC website.

Dr. Ellen Boylan, director of institutional research and assessment, said that the survey is meant to “measure the perception of students’ engagement in interfaith dialogue.”

Sr. Catherine Luxner, director of campus ministry, said that the survey will help to paint a picture of religious engagement on the campus.

“There will be some sense of how…people interact with one another, how committed people are to their religions and at the same time be willing to learn about others’ religions,” she said.

Boylan said that the survey will enable Marywood “to establish a base line measurement, a jumping off point to find where [the university is] now… to see if there is progress.”

Last September, Marywood joined with President Obama’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge. Representatives from IFYC spoke at Fall Convocation and conducted an interfaith service training day for faculty and students. The university paid $2,000 to participate in the survey, along with 26 other schools.

The survey, which was administered through emails sent to students, was comprised of 208 questions in seventeen categories such as “Acceptance of Diverse Worldviews on Campus” and “Co-Curricular Religious and Spiritual Engagement.” Boylan said that this is just “one part of the effort to promote interfaith dialogue.”

Data from the survey will be available by June 1 and an analytical report is expected by mid-August. Luxner said that the data will help administrators to assess the state of religious engagement and continue its efforts to enhance that engagement.

The information will also show how the university compares to the other participating universities. An executive summary of the results will be shared with the campus community in the fall.

The general student response to the survey has been positive. Bradley Fenstermaker, senior mathematics major, said he took the survey because he was “curious as to see what exactly they were going to ask.” He also said that he believes that the survey is good because it creates a dialogue between students and hopefully will lead to programs to help them “better understand other faiths.”

Victoria Clarizio, senior social work major, said she believes “it will help determine how successful efforts have been. Just students taking the survey is a sign that they are aware of the issues.”

Luxner said she hopes the results of the survey will help the campus learn more about interfaith dialogue. “This will give us an idea of how we can further advance our Mission and Core Values, help us plan for the future and … do what we do better,” said Luxner.