Top positive review
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An interesting (and somewhat biased) look into religious colleges
on July 5, 2006
Prior to starting this book I did not think that I would like it at all; however, I was mistaken. I highly recommend this book for members of the higher education community and those of particular faiths that may be attending college.
"God on the Quad" starts with a rather strange introduction which speaks of "red states" and "blue states" and makes a large number of generalizations about liberals and conservatives that may anger some people. After reading the entire book I could not really determine how the introduction frames (or even relates to) the rest of the book. If you, as a reader, feel that you get offended by political commentary then I recommend you skip the introduction. Starting at chapter 1 the book is worthwhile.
The book starts with a few case studies from various religious colleges: Brigham Young University, Bob Jones University, Notre Dame, St. Thomas Aquinas, Baylor, and a few others. Obviously the faiths of the schools and degree of fundamentalism range from each institution to the next. After the case studies, Riley follows a few themes such as "sex, drugs, and rock and roll," minorities and diversity, and political activism at religious institutions.
The problem I have is that Riley does not hide her biases towards various schools. For example, she writes with a negative voice when writing about Bob Jones University. I truly felt like there was nothing good about Bob Jones University, according to Riley. One reason for this may be because of the way she was treated on the different campuses. I do believe that her research would have been presented better if the biased voice had been removed and equal comparisons had been made.
Another big problem I had with the writing is that Riley makes the assumption that "secular" means "anti-religious" and makes it a strong reoccuring theme throughout the book that secular institutions foster hostile climates for students of faith. While I think she has some merit here, I would've liked to have seen more investigation into this percieved phenomenon. For example, do religious students feel uncomfortable at secular institutions because everyone in their dorm drinks? Or are they uncomfortable because everyone makes fun of them for not drinking? There is a huge difference that would be worth further exploration before actually accusing secular institutions of fostering hostile enviornments when, for the most part, they are trying their hardest to accomodate every single diverse individual.
Finally, this book does provide a lot of insight on why students choose to attend religious colleges and also how religious colleges are expanding and filling a niche in the overall spectrum of higher education.