St. John’s maintains its status as a tolerant institution in part by supporting various religious organizations.
As a well known Catholic, St. John’s extends its acceptance to a variety of students regardless of their religious affiliations.
Katie Finn assists with Campus Ministry and called St. John’s a “friendly place” because of the acceptance of other religions.
“I think that people come to St. John’s because it is such a welcoming place. You will be welcomed no matter what religion you believe in,” she said.
The diversity level of the school has risen steadily over the years. According to The St. John’s University Fact Book, in 1999 Roman Catholics Students made up 55% of the population compared to 47% in 2009.
In 2009, The Princeton review ranked St. John’s 17 out of 368 colleges in the diversity category. This diversity has allowed for acceptance of individuality, and that has created an area where various religions can thrive simultaneously on campus.
More than ten student organizations based on religion are listed on the University’s website, half of which are not related to Catholicism or Christianity.
Organizations like the Jewish Student Association (JSA) and the Muslim Student Association (MSA) educate students about their beliefs and provide a community for members and believers.
Muslim Student Association President Amina Sanders extended the welcome to students of all religious backgrounds.
“We cater to Muslims, but at the same time, we encourage anyone to come to our events,” she said.
Recent MSA events have featured a fast-A-thon, group prayers, lectures, and a movie screening about Muslim children in America.
Noffy Arabov, Secretary of the Jewish Student Association, encouraged all students to seek membership.
“We encourage Jews to sign up, of course, but all are welcome to experience our religion” said Arabov.
The Jewish Student Association plans to host more events this year that include sports, dinners, speakers and parties this year.
These groups welcome anyone interested in learning their culture and beliefs much like the Catholic community encourages students to join them at various events and weekly mass at St. Thomas Moore Church.
According to the university’s website, “Catholics comprise about 51% of the population, with the remainder representing all the major Protestant religions, Jewish, Russian and Greek Orthodox, Hindu, Islam, Buddhist and Mormon, as of fall 2004.”
Sanders and Arabov agreed that their organizations have been able to function well despite being in a Catholic university.
“We want everybody from all religions to come,” Sanders said. “A lot of our events are about teaching non-Muslims.”
“St. John’s University has been really supportive,” Sanders said. “They are not basis or impartial, they have taken care of us. It’s a testament to how much they respect religion as a whole, and are respectful of our religious needs.”