Prayers for a safer campus

During my second year in seminary I interned in an office that interacted with students who had broken the disciplinary code at the college I attended. From my time in that office I learned a good deal about the nature and impact of crimes around campus, including both victims (how they are typically targeted, and why they often don’t report crimes) and offenders (who commit crimes, how they go about it, and so on). I wanted to work toward a more peaceful campus, so I tried to make prayer my first response when confronted with this kind of information.

That particular year, however, had been challenging for the campus. There was a fatal shooting, increased cases of sexual assault, and problems with alcohol abuse and hazing. The university started up a program called “bystander training” to reduce these incidents. The basic idea was to train people to recognize behavior that, while minor in and of itself, can lead to worse behavior and more serious infractions. It really comes down to recognizing the motive of an action, regardless of how harmless it might seem. It reminded me of what Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount when he addressed the nature of thought, not just the extent of an offense. He reminded his listeners that lust is a form of adultery, and hatred is similar to murder (see Matthew 5:21–28).

During my internship it was clear I needed to strive to see each student as God’s child, never out of God’s infinite sight. While this was a helpful perspective and led to some really great improvements in my work with students, the situation around campus still seemed to be a battle of good and evil.

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