By Sam Bailey / Staff Writer
For millions of people around the world, the church is a place where they can find comfort and peace in their busy lives.
Many churches around the world find such inspiration in their practice that they reach out to the public in the hopes of recruiting potential members, including around Hutchinson Community College.
In the first few weeks of the semester, one particular religious group has been positioning themselves throughout campus trying to recruit students into their faith.
According to David Maness, Coordinator Of Campus Safety at HutchCC, “The young men that have been walking around campus are associated with the World Mission Society Church of God.”
Their presence has raised some concern among many students at the college.
Wellington freshman Taylor Meyer was approached by the group early in the semester, and when asked about how she felt about their presence on campus, she said, “I’m not really comfortable with it.”
“I don’t wanna have that awkward confrontation about going and talking to them and then trying to stop me and talk to me again, because I’ve had some of them try to stop me [a second time].”
When asked what students should do if they don’t wish to talk to these individuals, Vice President Of Student Services Brett Bright said, “A student should let the individual(s) know that they are not interested in the information. If the group member persists, tell them if they continue to persist, you will notify campus security.”
In the interest of student safety, groups such as the Church of God are not given access to students’ personal areas and residence halls, Bright said. However, HutchCC cannot ban them from all areas around the campus.
“One of these young men is currently a HutchCC student, and would have access to all parts of campus like every other student,” Maness said. “The other men are not current students and would have access to parts of campus that are open to the general public.
“The streets and sidewalks along Ford Street between the campus and dorms are public property. HutchCC has no authority in those areas, which would fall under the jurisdiction of the Hutchinson Police Department.”
While the feeling among some students is the group is persistent in its recruiting, both Bright and Maness said that in years past the groups have been informed of the rules they must follow and there have been no reports of any criminal or violent activities taking place.
When asked about whether she feels nervous about walking alone on campus because of these religious groups, Meyer said, “If I’m alone, I definitely keep my eyes out and don’t stop to talk to them.”
Referring to the issue of students walking alone on campus, Maness said, “If you have evening classes and there is a possibility of walking around campus at night, it may be helpful to walk with a friend or group.
“If you do find yourself walking alone after dark, have your phone out or phone a friend while you walk to your destination. If those are not an option, student and staff can call 665-3379 and security can escort you if needed.”
3379 – gets you security
Students may contact their resident assistant
use the TIPS reporting system on the HutchCC website
620-665-3579 — Campus security
620-899-2488 — Housing Night Security