There are a lot of small four year colleges around, and the competition is tough. We feel it at my university, the University of Minnesota Morris, and it’s difficult because we can’t honestly say that all those other colleges are bad — they’re actually very good because they value the same advantages that we do — small class sizes, personal attention to every student, a curriculum that emphasizes breadth of knowledge and the integration of ideas. So it’s always good to see some place where we, as a secular and public liberal arts university, have a clear advantage.
Concordia College is one of our peer institutions, and they certainly do offer a good education. But like many of the small private colleges around, they are affiliated with a religion, in this case the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. Like most of these colleges, though, they’re not dogmatic about their faith, and you can attend no matter what your religion, or lack of it (colleges that demand adherence to one faith are not our peers at all — they tend to be crap colleges anyway). However, sometimes the board of trustees, or whatever organization is managing the place, will meddle. Such meddling has occurred at Concordia.
The college denied the formation of the student organization Concordia Atheists-Secular Students at Concordia College on the basis that atheism is not in compliance with “college standards,” despite the support it received from the Campus Ministry Office.
What “college standards” do atheists not meet? Are we not equal members of the Concordia community? Do we not share the same rights to express our religious views as those that participate in Sunday Night at East or in Tabernacle?
According to the most recent Concordia College Factbook published for the 2008-2009 academic year, upwards of 16 percent of the school population reports no religious affiliation. The group already has 60 members on Facebook, which, just as an example, is 37 more members than the Campus Republicans (a recognized organization) can claim. How can a school deny the recognition of such a sizable minority of its students?
How can they do it? Easy. The college is founded and run by blinkered faith-heads — liberal ones, but still a group with peculiar, irrational biases, and sometimes those biases will flare up and slap students in the face.
The solution is easy, though. If you’re thinking of going to college, or have children who will be going to college, you should look into small liberal arts colleges — they really are phenomenal places for learning. But you should also emphasize that you want to attend a secular, public liberal arts college; one that doesn’t give a damn about your religion. Like (shameless plug) UMM.
We also welcome transfer students.