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Several colleges across the United States are now offering student housing with dorm rules based on religious beliefs.
Troy University, Florida Institute of Technology, Texas A&M University-Kingsville and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln are only a few schools that have introduced faith-based housing facilities this semester, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Many of the programs are sponsored by Catholic ministries, including the new 376-bed Newman Center at Troy University. The facility provides an alcohol-free environment as well as a small chapel and communal area for Bible studies. Rooms are leased by the Catholic Archdiocese of Mobile and are open to all faiths, according to the University's website.
Troy University has also determined several standards for students who desire to live at the Newman Center. Each student must agree to be respectful of diversity, maintain a minimum grade point average of 2.50, refrain from the use of alcohol or illegal drugs while in the facility, be engaged in community service twice a year and maintain the standards of the "Trojan Way."
"The Newman Center project is an important step forward for Troy University, as more than 80 percent of our students have revealed through surveys that religious spirituality plays an important role in their lives," school chancellor Jack Hawkins Jr. wrote on the university website. "I believe our obligation to our students in this regard can be summed up in the words of our university motto, which dates back to our founding in 1887: 'Educate the mind to think, the heart to feel and the body to act.'"
The Wall Street Journal interviewed Justice Gray, a 17-year-old freshman at Troy University, who will be one of the first students at the Newman Center.
"I like the Christian feel of it," Gray said. "We're like a family."
While faith-based housing is not uncommon for private religious universities, Patricia Martinez, the president of the Association of College and University Housing Officers-International, told the Wall Street Journal that the growing amount of faith-based dorms at public universities is new.
Many faith-based centers across the country are labeled as Newman Centers, honoring the name of Cardinal John Henry Newman who first promoted Catholic organizations on public university campuses back in the 19th century, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Although Troy University's Newman Center is one among many others, it has not gone without some controversy. Shortly before the Center's debut, the Freedom from Religion Foundation based in Madison, Wis., spoke out regarding its concerns regarding church and state seperation issues. The group also sent a letter to Hawkins detailing their concerns.
Hawkins told the Wall Street Journal that he is aware of the situation and hopes to relove any issues with the Newman Center. "We've been very sensitive to the church-state issue," Hawkins said.
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