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October 06, 1999 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 1999-10-06

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8 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, October 6, 1999
Campus, Ann Arbor community offer variety of spiritual outlets

RELIGION
Continued from Page 1
thinks of it as "knowing God is with you and
in you. Just to feel his presence."
To LSA sophomore Pavani Guntur "it's not
necessarily anything to do with God or reli-
gion. It's beliefs instilled in you by your par-
ent, your grandparents."
While students prioritize spirituality dif-
ferently in their lives and often adhere to
varying beliefs, some universal pondering
remains.
"Being on your own
makes you think a little a F(
little deeper," said LSA f
junior Ahmad Nassar, a
muslim student. "What am I re
doing here? Am I here just t
to get good grades, make a
lot of money, have a family,
retire, and then that's it?" he
asked.
LSA junior Summer Delprete said, during
her youth, she was raised Catholic but views
the religion as nothing more than a set of rules
she had to follow.
"I'm happy with myself," Delprete said.
"While I'm not practicing any religion, I'm
not completely devoid spiritually."
When she came to the University, Delprete
said she was impressed with the religious
groups students can join at their own free will.
She said being exposed to eastern religions for
the first time has greatly increased her interest
in them.
Other students share her view that spiritual-
ity does not necessarily encompass practicing
religion.
"I don't really believe in organized reli-
gion," Dixon said. "It doesn't become a per-
sonal thing any more."

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Although some students share Dixon's sen-
timents, others said they equate spirituality
with religion. Public Health first-year student
Evelyn Kim, who is Christian, said "religion
is my life basically. It permeates everything I
do."
A considerable variety of religious centers
- from Buddhist to Christian to Jewish -
dot the campus and Ann Arbor area.
Some Muslim students attend the Islamic
Center of Ann Arbor. LSA sophomore and
Muslim Student Association member Fatima
Siddique estimates that between 50 to 75 stu-
dents attend service at the
rh on campus: mosque every Friday.
lgion at college Many Jewish students
rI tin a 3-part
es bou, stu(e(in use the Hillel Foundation
ious beliefs. as a resource, with reli-
gious ceremonies available
for reform, conservative
and orthodox Jews. LSA
sophomore Spencer Krane
said "endless opportuni-
ties to grow and learn" about the Jewish faith
exist on campus.
More than 40 churches and centers, includ-
ing the non-denominational Campus Crusade
for Christ and Ann Arbor Mennonite Church
are available for Christian students.
But for students of certain faiths, practicing
their beliefs is not as easy. Kiran Sajja, an
LSA senior and Hindu Students Council
member, said the closest spiritual centers for
Hindu students are in places like Troy, Mich.,
and Detroit.
Sajja said he has recognized a desire by
many Hindu students to further explore their
spirituality. Last fall semester, the Hindu
Students Council organized Sunday meetings
for students to sing, meditate and "contem-
plate" God. The program has grown in popu-
larity; now, nearly 50 students attend the gath-

ering each week, he said.
"Coming here is very peaceful,"
Engineering junior Samir Karamchandani
said about the weekly meetings. "If I don't
have anyone else, I know I have God."
In addition to services for traditional faiths,
some students find their spirituality through
other outlets.
The Magickal Education Council of Ann
Arbor is an organization of individuals who
are pagans, witches, wiccans and shamans.
Member John Morris said University stu-
dents often attend the group's weekly meet-
ings.
Bella Sherman, a former University stu-
dent, said a number of students belong to the
Shamanic Journey Group. Using "rhythmic
drum beats," participants "go to different
places to explore" their psyches.
Haju Murray, resident priest of the Zen
Buddhist Temple, located on 1214 Packard
Rd., said it has about 20 student members.
"The trend is to take the meditation course,
do their shopping around and than we never
see them again," Murray said. "In the last two
or three years, people are sticking with it."
While students may be searching for them-
selves spiritually, the University is in limbo
about its role in the process. Leonard Scott
serves as a liaison between religious organiza-
tions and the University community.
Communication primarily exists between
Scott and the Association of Religious
Counselors, who create a local dialogue on
religion.
ARC president Matthew Lawrence said the
organization is an interfaith collection of reli-
gious leaders who work to create understand-
ing and awareness across the faiths.
But, with Scott planning to retire in
January, Lawrence said he fears the University
will not replace Scott, and the formal connec-

1

Rabbi Alter Goldstein helps Kinesiology sophomore'
Festival of Sukkot last Tuesday.
tion between the religious community and the
University will be severed.
"For a lot of students on campus, their faith
is very important to them," Lawrence said. "A
big issue is whether or not the University will
take seriously or not the spiritual lives of stu-
dents. The jury is still out," he said.
Scott believes an increase in spiritual and
religious resources available to students
would actually be beneficial.
"In an ideal world, a full time person could
pay attention to the spiritual needs of students

Todd Schafer say prayers for the Jewish Harvest
in a pluralistic way," he said.
The final decision will be made by interim
Vice President for Student Affairs E. Royster
Harper.
Assistant to the Vice President Deb
Moriarty said a task force will be formed that
will examine students' needs and whether the
liaison position is the appropriate solution to
meeting those needs. Moriarty said the Office
of Student Affairs is in the process of recruit-
ing task force members, with the desire of
making it "open and inclusive."

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