Ottawa University students pride themselves on the amount of diversity within any given category. You’re guaranteed to find people with different views on a variety of topics, religion being one of them. That’s what college is all about: coming from all different parts of the country, with different backgrounds, coming together in our small town.
Ottawa students come from coast to coast, even some from different countries. I believe this is due to the number of athletes that come to Ottawa to continue their academics as well as athletic abilities. Ottawa University itself has been affiliated with the American Baptist Churches since it first became a university. But some students who come here do not believe in the same belief, one being Nye.
“Growing up, I was raised Jewish,” says CaiLyn Nye, a freshman from Overland Park and member of the softball team.
“Though I am not a conservative Jew [which is someone who holds traditional values in the Jewish faith], I have always been passionate and committed to my religion. At times it is very hard to fully give myself to my religion, especially going to a Baptist school.”
At Ottawa, all students are required to take oly one religious class: Gospels. Another requirement that was new this year is the Wednesday Spirit Life events. While these events are run by the university, they were meant to be open about all religions and not inclusive to just the faith of Christianity … although that is not always the case.
Nye describes those two requirements as her biggest challenge yet.
“When I was enrolled in religious classes and when I asked to be removed, the staff was against it and told me I should be more open-minded. It is so difficult for me to fully grasp and give my best work when I have no understanding or background knowledge of what we are learning,” she says.
Though being away from home and facing these challenges can be hard, Nye has found support within her classmates and friends that she has made.
“The students here have been very open and willing to learn. Especially with the friends I have made, they have learned to love it. Oftentimes they will even celebrate some holidays with me because I can’t celebrate them with my family,” she says.
Nye is just one example of the many students on campus who hold different beliefs than some of us. Along with religion being one of the many things that students at Ottawa are diverse in, having classmates who are from all over the country come to Ottawa to continue their academic and athletic careers is seen as a good thing that we all accept and embrace. We are all allowed to learn things that our school might not have taught us otherwise. Having a diverse student body on campus is something that makes Ottawa home.