During my college search, I heard a lot about ‘fit’: the idea that the personality of a college might match mine. It was usually used to describe student life. Well, student life can mean a lot of different things. As a practicing Catholic, one of the things that I personally looked for was an active faith community. Harvey Mudd shares a resource for this with the other Claremont Colleges–the McAlister Center!
This is an interfaith resource for students from any of the seven colleges. It’s staffed by three chaplains, Father Joe Fenton (the Catholic chaplain), Imam Adeel Zeb (the Muslim chaplain), and Rabbi Danny Shapiro (the Jewish chaplain). There is also a position for a Protestant Chaplain that is currently not filled. In addition to the chaplains, the McAlister Center serves as an organizing force for numerous religious and spiritual student-led groups, provides access to a prayer room equipped with everything from prayer mats to Bibles, and serves as a liaison to many volunteer opportunities. It also isn’t just a resource for religious students. The chaplains are a confidential resource for any student to talk to.
So far this year, the McAlister Center has held several events. I’m going to focus on the events for Catholic students, as I know the most about them, but they absolutely hold events for every group. Near the beginning of the year, they held a Catholic Students Welcome Picnic. It was a really great opportunity as a frosh who didn’t know that many people to meet some of the other Catholics at the Claremont Colleges and discuss what the upcoming year might hold. A fairly large number of the students were Mudd students compared to the other colleges, which gave me a nice opportunity to meet some Mudd upperclassmen.
The McAlister Center also holds interfaith events. Recently, it helped host a dinner in Pomona College’s Edmunds Ballroom. The focus was on service and justice through the lens of different religions. It was a very cool event that highlighted a lot of the things that the McAlister Center focuses on–interfaith relations, service projects, and creating an involved student community.
To get a better picture of what the McAlister Center aims to do, I asked Fr. Joe several questions.
What is the McAlister Center’s goal?
“We’re about fostering the religious and spiritual life of students on campus. We are an interfaith chapel so we are here for everyone and don’t just work with our own faith.”
What is your favorite part of working on a college campus?
“Working with the students. That’s the only reason I’m here.”
Do you have a favorite event that the McAlister Center sponsors?
“I have several of them. One of the things I like to do is have interfaith events where people learn about other religions and other points of view and build respect for them. I think that’s very important to do.”
Anything else that someone looking at Mudd should know about the faith community on campus?
“Well, if they’re looking for religion, come and talk to any of the chaplains. We’re not just here for our religion, we’re here for everyone. I think one of the things that is important is that we don’t do any proselytizing and we provide opportunities for students of any faith or no faith if the students just want to come and talk.”
For more information on the McAlister Center, you can visit their website!