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Protect Rollins College's Chapel and Congregational Heritage

This petition had 62 supporters


On behalf of concerned members of the Rollins Community, the purpose of this petition is to address the recent announcement of the current Zen Buddhist candidate for Dean of Religious Life at Rollins College.

Rollins College was founded by Lucy Cross and the local Congregational Church in 1885 with the intent of creating a central Florida college that would contend with the liberal art colleges of the Northeast, while maintaining its Christian values. The religious roots can even be seen in the motto of Rollins, “Fiat Lux”, which comes from the book of Genesis. The relationship between the college and the church was further commemorated and solidified by Knowles Memorial Chapel in 1932. The Knowles Memorial Chapel was built for the school by Frances Knowles Warren in the memory of her father, Francis Knowles, who was one of the founding members of the college. The chapel stands in the center of campus as a symbol of its proud history in which the Congregational Church was so instrumental. Over the years, the dean of the chapel has been a Christian clergyman, as one would expect given the history of the college. The fact that this candidate has made it so far in the hiring process shows a lack of respect towards the history of this institution and the wishes of the founding members. The Dean of Religious Life is responsible for the religious and spiritual needs of the Rollins community, and so should then reflect the Rollins community. The Zen Buddhist candidate does not accurately represent the background and beliefs of the vast majority of the student body of Rollins College and she certainly does not represent the culture and history of the college itself.  

Of further concern is the manner in which the hiring process has been performed so far. Attempting to bring such a person in as the Dean of Religious Life during the summer is a blatant attempt to keep this process under the radar, holding the event as soon as most students have left the area for the summer. There was no advertisement of the consideration of such a radical candidate, and the dates they were speaking, except for a single, brief email sent to the student body. In addition to this, the email was sent a mere three days before the event was to be held, giving little time for those who may have been interested in attending and being part of this important decision.

Though a candidate has not yet been chosen, the serious consideration of a Zen Buddhist as the Dean of Religious Life is in complete opposition of Rollins’ founding. Rollins College was conceived of, proposed by, and founded by the Christian Congregational Church This action marks an attempt to make a significant and fundamental change to the character and culture of Rollins College, and is an action that can not be taken lightly.

Speaking on behalf of the Rollins community, this petition calls for the withdrawal of the Buddhist candidate from the consideration for the position of Dean of Religious Life.



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