Woman in blue sweater wearing glasses, looking concerned. CREDIT: SKYNESHER
Students who come from backgrounds that are infused with a strong traditional world view may find plenty during their first days at Fanshawe that will be disorienting.

During Orientation, students are encouraged to learn about the programs the college offers, the student supports services such as counselling, and I am sure, the eating, shopping, and entertainment available on site. We will have opportunities to connect with other students on the basis of gender or Indigenous identities, or because of shared interests in student politics, business, technology, and other specialized areas.

And while the administration of the college and the student union will be doing their best to create an affirming, inclusive, diverse, and egalitarian environment, there will be students who find the college a deeply challenging space. I am thinking here about students who take seriously the traditional religious communities that they have either been raised in, or have embraced.

Such students may be Buddhist, Sikh, or Muslim. They may in recent years have studied and followed the traditional ways of a First Nations Community. Until now they might have been very involved in one of the many Mennonite churches in southwestern Ontario. They may be graduates of the Catholic school system. They may be former students of one of the Protestant church-based high schools in London, Toronto, or elsewhere. They may have completed grade 12 at the Torah Institute for Boys or the Machon Sarah High School for Girls, two Jewish institutions in Ottawa.

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Students who come from backgrounds that are infused with a strong traditional world view may find plenty during their first days at Fanshawe that will be disorienting.

For one thing, any traditional world view of the kind I have mentioned will have a fundamental belief in God, or, at the very least, a foundational belief in an unseen world to which all persons are beholden. No such belief is maintained by the college or the student union.

Second, traditional world views have expectations — and, to speak plainly, rules. Rules that in the minds of many are outdated and unhealthy, or at least, cannot be foisted upon students. Therefore, the evangelical Christian student from Chatham or Ingersoll who shows up at the London campus may feel more than a little out of place when her fellow students chat about hooking up with strangers on the weekends. A Buddhist or Sikh student might not feel comfortable around people who share stories about getting wasted on Friday night. And no one from a traditional background will easily celebrate the ready access to illegal drugs.

To a student who has tried to take seriously the seven great Catholic virtues — Wisdom, Justice, Temperance, Courage, Faith, Hope, Love — the modern cultural values of Inclusion, Equity, and Diversity will seem vaporous. Any student who has been raised to believe that adultery, theft, greed and other wrongs are not merely to be avoided if convenient, but expressly forbidden at the peril of your material life and your soul, will not find it easy to navigate friendship clusters where frequent sin isn’t anything to worry about.

All traditional world views provide foundational orientation for living. There are many who say that as human beings, we are better off abandoning such ways. Are we sure about that? Really? I myself am a Christian and will do my best to articulate in this column what embracing Jesus Christ means — for students and others. Hopefully that will be a help to you.

In the meantime, I would say, if you come from a religious or traditional community with its own world view and orientation, don’t be too eager to jettison it. It will likely give you a backbone, a resilience you will need. And it might help you understand what I’ll be trying to do in my writing.

Michael Veenema is a former chaplain of Fanshawe. He continues to write.

Editorial opinions or comments expressed in this online edition of Interrobang newspaper reflect the views of the writer and are not those of the Interrobang or the Fanshawe Student Union. The Interrobang is published weekly by the Fanshawe Student Union at 1001 Fanshawe College Blvd., P.O. Box 7005, London, Ontario, N5Y 5R6 and distributed through the Fanshawe College community. Letters to the editor are welcome. All letters are subject to editing and should be emailed. All letters must be accompanied by contact information. Letters can also be submitted online by clicking here.