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Date of Award

2010

Document Type

Thesis - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Department

Educational Administration and Leadership

First Advisor

Joanna Royce-Davis

First Committee Member

Ronn Hallett

Second Committee Member

Steve Jacobson

Abstract

Seven percent of the national four year college population is involved in Greek Life (Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia, 2008, ~5) with over sixty percent on some campuses (Finkel, 201 0). An often unexamined aspect of collegiate learning pertaining to this context is students' spiritual development, yet this is a vital part of a student's life throughout college and critical to whole student learning (Love & Talbot, 2005). Students report a high level of interest in spiritual activities while struggling with existential questions on a regular basis (Higher Education Research Institute, 2003). Most social fraternities and sororities embrace Christian ideals, making the spiritual development of non-Christian students involved in Greek Life a unique challenge. Focusing on the spiritual development of Jewish students within these social organizations is important because until the mid-twentieth century, there were restrictive membership clauses barring Jewish students from becoming active members of multiple fraternities and sororities founded on Christian ideals (Callais, 2002). The purpose of this study was to examine the unique dichotomy created by students who do not participate in the systemic religious views of a majority of Greek Life organizations; specifically focusing on students of Jewish faith in primarily Christian based Greek letter organizations. The students interviewed show a richness of experiences and information finding that Jewish students (1) identification as spiritually or culturally Jewish defines college experiences, (2) find sanctuary and community with other Jewish students and in groups such as Hillel, (3) who interact with faculty and staff that identify with their heritage feel a sense of belonging on campus, (4) struggle with campus dining practices, (5) face academic penalties due to practice of faith traditions, (6) did not feel welcome or comfortable at the local places of worship, and (7) in Greek letter organizations felt · excluded or challenged because of the founding ideals.

Pages

85

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