DeKALB — The Association of Campus Religious Organizations [ACRO] offers a sanctuary for religious staff and clergy members to connect with fellow associates and better serve students.
ACRO brings members of different religious affiliations together to guide students to spiritual resources by linking with different events taking place around campus.
ACRO President Alex Holle said the organization provides a platform to help supply religious resources in times of need. He said NIU plays a big role by providing members with amenities such as parking passes and One Cards.
Holle said members meet once a month to plan religious events and campus activities and to bring in speakers from different university departments and community organizations to share about their respective group.
“The organization provides an opportunity for all of the members to connect with each other and ask questions regarding university events or gatherings,” Holle said.
Phil Perez, ACRO member and last years president, said one of the challenges relating to religious awareness regards the separation of church and state because it can lead to a lack of religious presence on public campuses.
He also said NIU does a wonderful job cooperating with the religious affiliations around campus to provide a spiritual element to its students.
Perez said ACRO works as a religious tour guide to help provide direction to students.
“When students first come in for orientation, ACRO provides material to help them identify with whatever religious organization or group they seek,” Perez said.
Perez said the majority of students don’t use the resources provided to them.
He said establishing an organization like ACRO through NIU allows its members to work with the university and better educate students on resources.
Perez said because ACRO members maintain a relationship with different groups such as counselling services and the Center for Black Studies, the established connection provides students with information pertaining to additional university resources.
“This link is great because if a student walks into counseling services and is looking for religious guidance, they are handed a pamphlet for ACRO,” Perez said.
Mohammed Maaz Ali, Muslim Student Association [MSA] president, said he was unaware the MSA was a part of ACRO and has had no contact with its members.
He said after learning about what they offer, he understands the benefits of being a member of ACRO, and respects the organization’s ability to connect students who might be unaware of the MSA and the religion of Islam to the group.
Stang said one thing people might not realize is the members of ACRO are full-time career professionals as well as religious leaders, and the meetings allow for a coordinated effort for everyone to brainstorm together.
He said his job is to stay connected with the organization and make sure they have any pertinent information concerning campus activities.
“If there is any event happening that I believe ACRO would be interested in, I am able to provide them with information and resources through the university,” Stang said.
Holle said Stang has done an amazing job in providing support to all organizational members. He said the amenities NIU provides are a key factor in their success to better serve the students.
Holle also said continuing operation of the organization would be extremely hard without the help of the university and Stang.
“ACRO is good tbecause it promotes mutual respect and dialogue among religious groups in a world that can often be polarizing,” Holle said. “This connection allows us to share and connect with each other, which ultimately leads to a caring environment for the students.”