Resources for Religious Support at Andover

Hindu Student Union


In addition to celebrating the Hindu festivals of Diwali and Holi on campus, Hindu Student Union (HSU) provides support to Indian students on campus, even if they do not necessarily identify as Hindu, according to Arzu Singh ’16, Co-Head of HSU.

“[HSU] is not so much necessarily about the faith itself because Indian culture is really heavily tied with religion, especially Hinduism. It’s not necessarily just a place where you come together with people of your faith, [but] it also has this big cultural tie,” she said.

Pointing to the lights currently strung at the entrance of Samuel Phillips Hall for Diwali, Singh emphasized the importance of supporting and observing the cultural aspects of Hinduism.

“[To celebrate Diwali,] we’re having a little dinner for all the Hindu students who want to come…. Even though that is a national holiday [in India,] … it’s kind of tied to the religion. It’s not a huge bonanza for the entire campus, but it’s a more intimate setting for students to kind of connect and have that little pocket of affinity and support when they’re on campus and away from home,” said Singh.

Although HSU does not hold regular meetings throughout the year, Singh said that the group tries to support students through events and celebrations such as the observation of Diwali and the celebration of Holi in the spring.

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Catholic Student Fellowship


Every Tuesday evening in Ada’s Room in Paresky Commons, members of Catholic Student Fellowship (CSF) discuss a range of topics related to Catholicism, including Catholic charity, HIV/AIDS prevention in Africa and Catholicism in Russia. Through debate and discussion, CSF seeks to provide a safe space for students to learn about Catholicism.

“We’re trying to find a balance between the traditional Sunday-school style Catholic meeting and [education],” said Veronica Nutting ’16, board member of CSF.

Calvin Carbone ’15, a regular attendee of CSF, said that the club provides a place for students to discuss Catholicism freely.

“I think [religious clubs] on campus are good to have because some kids might not be open about [their religion] to their friends — they might be awkward about it. But when they’re in [religious clubs], they’re more open about [religion], because everyone there pretty much shares their religion,” said Carbone.

The club hopes to host an Interfaith Weekend during Winter Term to tackle the idea of religion as a part of an individual and collective identity.

The club’s faculty advisor is Mary Kantor, Roman Catholic Chaplain.

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Andover Christian Fellowship


At its weekly meeting on Mondays at 7 p.m. in the basement of Cochran Chapel, Andover Christian Fellowship (ACF) aims to provide a medium for discussion for both Christian and non-Christian Andover students regarding Christianity.

For Duschia Bodet ’16, Co-Head of ACF, the club serves two purposes: to act as an affinity group for Christians at Andover and also to introduce non-Christians to faith.

Bodet said that during their weekly meetings, ACF typically analyzes and interprets a passage from the Bible as a way of starting discussion.

“Evelyn [Liu ’15, Co-Head of ACF,] or I will choose a passage from the Bible, and we’ll type up just three or four questions about it.… Together we’ll read the passage, and we’ll start just talking about the passage and how people feel about it,” said Bodet.

As Co-Head, Bodet hopes to introduce more special events to ACF to complement the weekly meetings. Possible initiatives include a community service project and a Christmas party.

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Jewish Student Union


In observance of Sukkot, an annual Jewish holiday, Jewish Student Union (JSU) constructed a sukkah, a type of temporary shelter, outside of Paresky Commons. Sukkot is one of the many Jewish traditions and experiences that JSU aims to capture and convey to students on campus.

“We want to simultaneously expose non-Jewish people to our customs as well as provide a place where Jewish students can gather to observe the religion and build community,” said Jennifer Kaplan ’15, a board member of JSU.

Led by Co-Presidents China Kantner ’15, Charlotte Chazen ’15 and Eleanor Blum ’15, JSU works with Rabbi Michael Swarttz to foster a sense of community among both Jewish and non-Jewish students through celebrations and activities rooted in Jewish culture.

JSU meets on Tuesdays in the Community and Multicultural Development (CAMD) Office and holds a Shabbat service in Paresky each Friday. In addition, JSU sponsors a Passover Seder and the annual Jewish Cultural Weekend in the winter.

JSU hopes to host a themed dinner in Paresky for Hanukkah in the winter and a carnival in celebration of Purim in the spring this year, according to Kaplan.

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Muslim Student Association


The Muslim Student Association (MSA) hopes to serve as a platform for students to share their experiences as Muslim students at Andover, as well as educate the Andover community about Islam.

“I hope to open students’ eyes to the actual teachings of this faith and diminish any misconceptions they might have about Islam,” said Walaa Alkhanaizi ’15, Co-President of the MSA.

“[Also], I hope [students will]… discuss the issues that they might have faced and how they overcame it. This can be especially helpful to new Muslim students on campus,” she added.

Although no set schedule has been planned out, Alkhanaizi said that the club hopes to hold its first meeting in the next several weeks.

In the future, MSA plans to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting, by having a special dinner in Paresky Commons to remind people of the holiday.

The board’s club comprises Alkhanaizi, Sina Golkari ’15, Issraa Faiz ’15 and Nadha Illikkal ’17.

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[Read Reverend Anne Gardner’s thoughts on religious support at Andover in this week’s issue of _The Phillipian_](

[Read more about the history of religion at Andover in _The Phillipian_.](