Nurturing your spiritual life during college and graduate school offers one of the best ways to keep perspective on your studies and avoid the isolation that too often characterizes learning. The Dean and Associate Dean of Religious Life and members of the Religious Directors Association strive to provide opportunities for spiritual growth, group fellowship, and intellectual inquiry into matters of faith. Groups that operate within the university framework are committed to representing their purposes honestly while also treating with respect the ministries and religious traditions of others.
In contrast, groups to be careful of displaying some or all of the following methods and characteristics:
Pressure and Deception
They use high pressure recruitment tactics or are not up-front about their motives when they first approach you.
They do not encourage critical, independent thinking. In contrast, higher education aims to enable students to think for themselves. Be aware of groups or leaders who try to control your life or who claim to possess the truth exclusively.
They want to choose your friends for you. While all religions have moral standards, watch out for groups that encourage you to sever ties with close friends and family who do not belong to their group. Such groups employ unethically manipulative techniques of persuasion and control, and they are dangerous.
They make unrealistic demands regarding your time and/or money. If participation in a group takes away significantly from your study time, beware. A group or leader who cares about you understands that your studies represent your future and are thus your first priority as a USC student.
If you feel that you are being pursued aggressively or manipulated by a group or leader, or you have any other concerns about a group with which you’re involved, please contact the Dean of Religous Life, Varun Soni at (213) 740-6110 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Office of Religious Life offers a confidential support group, “X-ILES”, for students experiencing difficulty in leaving any religious or secular group which, for any reason, the students feel is no longer appropriate for them. For referral to this group, contact Associate Dean, Rev. Jim Burklo.