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The purpose of any college student life office is quite simple: serve the students. It’s in the very name, after all. That simple goal, however, is only achieved through hard work, countless hours, and a real spirit of dedication.

Thanks to its smaller size, Catholic orthodoxy, and love for students, Christendom has an easier job than most in achieving this goal, but it still is not without its challenges. And yet, with a staff aiming to restore all things in Christ and form the next generation of Catholic leaders, Christendom is able to strive boldly, and confidently, toward its mission: to serve students and prepare them for this life and the next.

Christendom’s student life office, and the various departments contained within it, is chiefly responsible for fostering the college’s vibrantly Catholic culture. From the activities to the events to the spiritual life, it all falls under the umbrella of student life. With the extensive number of activities that take place each year and the amount of Masses, confessions, times for Adoration, and more that occur daily on campus, this is understandably a large task. Christendom’s staff, nevertheless, is up to the challenge.

“The student life office is important because we provide students with the support and challenges they need at this critical time, both as students of the liberal arts and as young men and women growing as Christians,” says vice president for student affairs Amanda Graf. “The student life office strives to give students the opportunity to take what they are learning in the classroom and begin to exercise that knowledge and wisdom immediately in their lives on campus. They don’t have to wait until they graduate to begin to exercise Christian virtue and have an impact on the world around them.”

This story appears in the summer 2018 issue of InstaurareSee more from the issue here!

The Catholicism that permeates the student life staff is crucial: it impacts every choice made, down to the smallest detail, transforming it within a Catholic lens. If the college’s vibrant Catholicism is the backbone of student life, then the campus policies that are born from it are some of the most vital organs that allow it to run smoothly.

For example, the college has a professional and a modesty dress code for students. This code seeks to instill in students a spirit of professionalism that will hopefully extend beyond their four years here into the work force and beyond. While students are dressing in sweatpants for classes at other universities, at Christendom they are learning a different mentality—one born out of maturity and reverence.

That same mentality extends to the residence life policies. Co-ed dorms may be the norm at the big-name state schools, but that is not the case at Christendom. Every residence hall is single-sex, allowing students to flourish in a setting that is distinctly countercultural but in line with Catholic teachings. At other schools with co-ed residence halls, there can be a distinct danger to students that cannot be overstated. By having single-sex halls, Christendom is doing its best to make students safer and help them grow and mature further as a result.

Dean of students Tim Judge and vice president of student affairs Amanda Graf.

“The residential life is an essential component of the liberal arts education, and through it we aim to create an environment for students to grow in nature and grace,” says dean of students Tim Judge. “The defined boundaries that are in place dealing with curfew, quiet hours, and inter-visitation support each student’s development of healthy habits and an order of life—policies that are an extension of Christ’s command to love, respect, and serve one another. This can only happen in an environment where safety is a top priority, with key card access, room keys, after-hours security, and supportive and approachable resident assistants there to assist students along the way. Policies will always be viewed by some as being too restrictive, but I have witnessed the ways our community is more unified and fortified because of them. These guidelines call our students to greatness and can set an expectation for one’s way of life after graduation.”

Furthermore, the student life staff holds many events aimed at teaching students both safety and spiritual growth while they are on campus, showing a personal attention and dedication to these areas that are distinct. At other colleges, students might be given formation talks in a large auditorium setting—if they happen at all. At Christendom, students discuss and learn in smaller groups and one-on-one, making the discussions that much more impactful. As a result, the opportunities for spiritual and personal formation help strengthen each student’s moral character and encourage them to challenge their peers to a higher level of Christian behavior.

Proactive formation is a key component to challenging and supporting men and women, which is why formation events happen so frequently during the academic year. A men’s formation program called “Into the Deep” and a women’s formation program called “At the Well” are hosted several times throughout the semester, where speakers are brought in to address issues ranging from self-image, to strong friendships, to anxiety and depression, and addiction to pornography. The student life staff, in addition to other college faculty and staff, attend these events and offer practical advice to the students, while also being able to listen to them, learn their problems, and offer solutions.

These formation programs are just one example of the many ways the college encourages and challenges students to live out their faith. Spiritual direction, small accountability groups, peer-led talks in the residence halls, fireside chats with faculty, bringing in nationally renowned speakers, and other efforts ensure that students have ample opportunities to grow during their time in school.

Before any person is hired as a member of Christendom’s student life staff, the question is asked: can they help our students become the best versions of themselves? The answer can be found in the college’s alumni, who live out the college’s formation and education.

“It is such a blessing to walk with students through their four years here, from the time they arrive as freshmen till the time they graduate, and then to see the impact they have on their families and their communities and on the world,” concludes Graf. “I am so proud of so many of our alumni and count it as a huge blessing to have had a hand in their success and growth at such a critical time in their lives.”

Without a doubt, Christendom is not like other colleges—and that’s a good thing. The policies in place may seem daunting to some prospective high school students, but they exist to help them grow into the persons that this country—and this world—needs now, more than ever. People who will not just stand by the sidelines but will actually go out and make his-tory—both on campus as students and off campus as doctors, teachers, lawyers, entrepreneurs, fathers, mothers, husbands, and wives.

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