To find other religious campus organizations at CU, visit http://colorado.edu/studentgroups/rco/people.
A Gallup poll released in March named Boulder one of the least religious cities in the United States — results that align with most people’s perception of the city. Nonetheless, many students of faith still find their place on campus or around town, joining student groups and performing community outreach.
For students new to CU, or for those students who are navigating the collegiate waters of defining their beliefs, campus groups provide a first step to finding — or strengthening — their faith.
CU’s Muslim Student Association holds events throughout the year to build awareness and fellowship. The group’s Facebook page features a number of announcements of events students can attend, from a ladies’ swimming night to a barbecue in a park. The group also coordinates events for the general CU public to attend. They host an Islam Awareness Week every year, featuring lectures on various topics related to Islam, as well as Sights and Sounds of the Islamic World, an evening event with comedy, fashion and food.
“There are two options for Jewish students to get involved on campus — Hillel and Chabad,” said Ellen Duchin, a grad student in accounting. “Hillel is more reformed, while Chabad is more orthodox and conservative.”
Both groups do a weekly Shabbat dinner, and “they usually do some kind of informal thing on Tuesday nights,” said Joshua Marcus, a recent CU grad who was a molecular, cellular and developmental biology major. Lately, Marcus has been attending Chabad more often than Hillel.
“Chabad isn’t specifically a student organization, and there are a lot of non-students who go, so I feel more comfortable there since I’ve graduated,” he explained.
Hillel also hosts the CU chapter of Challah for Hunger, a student group that bakes challah and sells it on campus to raise money for charity. Both groups hold services for Jewish holidays and participate in community outreach to help people learn more about Judaism.
Many of the Christianity-based student groups on campus are affiliated with churches from the greater Boulder community. Hank Rodis, a senior math and education student at CU, is a student leader for FlatironsCU, a student group affiliated with Flatirons Church in Lafayette. Rodis said he likes having a student-focused place to talk about his faith.
“The CU group allows us to have a community that can be focused on the lives of college students in Boulder,” he explained. “We can talk about topics that are specific to students’ lives and create environments for students to enjoy and grow in community.”
There is even a group on campus for people who explicitly aren’t religious — SSaSS, or the Secular Students and Skeptics Society.
“We’re the only specifically secular club,” said Andrei Semenov, a senior psychology and philosophy major and SSaSS president. “We have a need to grow that community.”
The group mainly meets to discuss various issues: “SSaSS is a safe community for people who might not have been able to talk about religious doubt at home,” he said. “We serve as a support group for people who might have been shunned and want a place to talk about that.”
However, they also host community events, like a speaker series, events at the planetarium and an annual spaghetti dinner.
Semenov says it’s important not to look at SSaSS as the atheist club, however. “We want to approach any issue skeptically. Se talk about more than just religion.”
There are, of course, many other faith-based groups on campus. Some include the Baha’i Campus Association, a number of Christian-based ministries and the Bhakti Yoga Club.
Rodis says it’s important for students to question their beliefs and seek out what fits them the best.
“I think that if you are to devote your life to something or someone you should be pretty confident about it.”
Jessica Ryan is a community manager in Boulder and a CU grad. On Twitter: @JessicaLRyan.