Being Christian at CNU: An Ethnographical Study by Donovan Campbell

Memo

 

Date: May 18, 2015

To: Whom it may concern

From: Donovan J. Campbell, CNU Student

Subject: Research Proposal: Being Christian at CNU: An Ethnographical Study

Purpose:

As an agnostic CNU student, I find it interesting how Christianity interacts with the culture of our campus, specifically now that we have a dedicated religious space on campus in the form of a chapel. I would like to gain insight into how christian students view their faith in relation to their experience at CNU. I have no specific agenda, but I hope this information will prove useful to various CNU organizations.

Methods:

I will accomplish this through a SurveyMonkey survey, asking a screening question (“Are you a CNU student who identifies as christian?”) and then eight broad questions which are both measurable and open to qualitative data:

1. What is your denomination of Christianity?

2. How much do you feel that CNU prioritizes Christianity in its campus culture? Please elaborate.

3. How much should CNU prioritize Christianity in its campus culture? Please elaborate.

4. How relevant is your faith to your academic activities? Please elaborate.

5. How relevant is your faith to your extracurricular activities? Please elaborate.

6. How satisfied are you with the opportunities that CNU has provided you to practice your faith? Please elaborate.

7. How has having a chapel on campus affected your ability to practice your faith? Please elaborate.

8. Has there ever been an instance on campus where you felt uncomfortable as a Christian or felt that you could not openly express your beliefs?

I hope to gain data from 5-25 subjects, which I will then use to draw general conclusions from. This should be useful demographical information for the university.

Sincerely,

Donovan Campbell

1033 Emory Place

Virginia Beach, VA 23464

757-478-9483

donovan.campbell.11@cnu.edu

Introduction

This study was intended to obtain data about a specific group within CNU’s student body, namely Christians. Ethnography was the chosen approach due to the focus on one specific cultural group. A SurveyMonkey online survey was created in which eight quantifiable but open-ended questions were asked. Eighteen students responded, and conclusions were then drawn about the broad opinions of Christian students at CNU.

Findings

Out of the eighteen Respondents, five were Nondenomenational, five were Baptist, four were Catholic, two were Presbyterian, one was Evangelical, and one was Methodist. I did not realize that self-identifying Nondenominational Christians were so common at CNU.

On the first question, 47.06% respondents stated that CNU moderately prioritized Christianity. In the comment box two respondents mentioned Paul and Rosemary Trible’s faith as a factor contributing to this. 29.41% responded Very Much and 11.76% responded Extremely, though these were largely viewed as positive things. 11.76% responded Slightly and no one answered Not at All, indicating that it is more or less a consensus among Christian students that Christianity is a factor in campus culture.

The second question’s answers were far more normalized, with 43.75% responding that CNU should Moderately prioritize Christianity, 18.75% responding both Slightly and Not at All, 12.5% responding Very Much, and 6.25% responding Extremely. A roughly equal amount of Christian students seem to think that CNU should and does moderately prioritize Christianity, indicating an overall satisfaction with the predominance of Christianity in CNU culture. The text responses corroborate this.

When asked how relevant their faith is to their academic activities, responses were similarly varied. One third of participants selected Moderately, with one third falling to either side. Most participants who selected Very Much or Extremely cited the role that their religion plays in motivating them to pursue their work and live productive lives.

When it came to extracurricular activities, responses were much more positive, with 80% responding Modreately or higher. This makes sense, as many stated in the comment box that they express their faith through campus ministries and religious organizations.

Only 40% of participants stated that the new chapel has aided their ability to practice their faith, with the other 60% reporting that it has not affected them at all. Perhaps the chapel was not a good use of CNU funds, or perhaps it is so new that it has yet to find a proper place within campus culture.

The majority of students were reportedly Very Satisfied with the opportunities given by CNU to practice their faith, and absolutely none were dissatisfied. On the ninth question, the only specific instances of discomfort were professors attitudes towards Christianity, but most said they have never felt uncomfortable.

Appendix

 Survey consisted of:

1. Do you identify as a Christian CNU student? (If not, please close this survey)

1. Yes – 100%

2. No – 0%

2. What is your denomination of Christianity?

Comment box provided:

Baptist – 28%

Catholic – 22%

Evangelical – 6%

Methodist – 6%

Nondenominational – 28%

Presbyterian – 11%

3. How much do you feel CNU prioritizes Christianity in its campus culture? Please elaborate.

1. Not at all – 0%

2. Slightly – 12%

3. Moderately – 47%

4. Very Much – 29%

5. Extremely – 12%

Chart1

Comment box provided

4. How much should CNU prioritize Christianity in its campus culture? Please elaborate.

1. Not at all – 19%

2. Slightly – 19%

3. Moderately – 44%

4. Very Much – 13%

5. Extremely – 6%

Chart2

Comment box provided

5. How relevant is your faith to your academic activities? Please elaborate.

1. Not at all – 20%

2. Slightly – 13.33%

3. Moderately – 33.33%

4. Very Much – 20%

5. Extremely – 13.33%

Chart3

Comment box provided.

6. How relevant is your faith to your extracurricular activities? Please elaborate.

1. Not at all – 13.33%

2. Slightly – 6.66%

3. Moderately – 33.33%

4. Very Much – 26.66%

5. Extremely – 20%

Chart4

Comment box provided

7. How satisfied are you with the opportunities that CNU has provided you to practice your faith? Please elaborate.

1. Very Dissatisfied – 0%

2. Moderately Dissatisfied – 0%

3. Neither Satisfied Nor Dissatisfied – 26.66%

4. Moderately Satisfied – 20%

5. Very Satisfied – 53.33%

Chart5

Comment box provided

8. How has having a chapel on campus affected your ability to practice your faith? Please elaborate.

1. It has impeded my ability to practice my faith – 0%

2. It has not affected my ability to practice my faith – 60%

3. It has aided my ability to practice my faith – 40%

Chart6

Comment box provided

9. Has there ever been an instance on CNU’s campus where you felt uncomfortable as a Christian, or felt that you could not openly express your beliefs?

Comment box provided

Conclusions

On the whole, Christian CNU students seem to come from a large variety of denominations. They feel that Christianity is a moderate priority on campus, as it should be as a function of the demographic makeup of the student body as well as providing opportunities for religious expression. CNU Christians do not feel that their faith strongly affects their academics, but they are very involved in religious extracurricular activities. Overall they feel very welcome and free to express their faith on campus.

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