Typical signs of spring here in Appleton may include gray skies, mud puddles, daylight-saving time, and the occasional snowflake. Some students chase after Frisbees on Main Hall green, or lie on beach towels outside, hoping to catch the first few rays of summer sun. Others hole themselves up in the Mudd, doing research for a 20 page term paper, or lock themselves in the Con. In the midst of this third term flurry of excitement, many students seek something to believe in and depend on. For many, this constant is religion. Third term at Lawrence contains a plethora of religious holidays, such as Passover, Easter, and Beltane. Most students rely on religious organizations on campus in order to celebrate these holidays away from home.
For Jews, springtime means Passover, the celebration of the exodus of the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt. Each year, Hillel (a Jewish religious organization) throws a Passover seder that is open to the entire campus, Jews and non-Jews alike.
“There seems to be a nice mix. There are people who have been religious for a long time, and there are people who are just now coming into it,” says Hillel president D.J. Hein.
Easter, the resurrection of Jesus after his crucifixion, is celebrated by all denominations of Christianity. The Lawrence Christian Fellowship (LCF) observes this by encouraging their members to attend church, delivering Easter dinner to people in need, and by holding an Easter egg hunt followed by a time of song, fellowship, and candy consumption.
Lawrence University Pagan Organization (LUPO) members are of several different religions, including Wiccan, Druidic, and Animist. Their biggest spring holidays are the Spring Equinox, and later on, Beltane (May Day). “A public ritual for Beltane is held, usually the weekend before the actual date,” says senior K.T. Raschko. “Included in the ritual is the maypole, a traditional symbol of fertility.”
Despite their religious differences, students seem to share similar thoughts when it comes to the importance of participating in their religions at school, especially if it’s more comfortable to do so here than at home. “It becomes harder to be observant in a community where Judaism isn’t as large as at home, especially without the support of your family,” says Hein, “Hillel tries to… make it easier.”
“For those of us who are members of a larger tradition at home, coming to school may mean that we practice our faith as ‘solitaires,’ and for those of us who are typically solitary at home, coming to school may offer more opportunities to worship with others,” says Raschko.
LCF member Nick Ashbrenner adds, “I feel like I can really express what I really think and believe here a lot more than I can at home.”
For junior Ann Miller, practicing religion at college is just another step towards becoming an adult. She says, “As in many other areas of life at college, when you’re independent, your faith has to become your own; you have to start taking ownership for your faith.