Sunday, February 04, 2007


Quaker Schools/Guilford College/Friends Association for Higher Education/Mays, Rebecca/Values and Questions/Inside Higher Ed/Washington/DC/USA/30-Jan-07//Guilford, with approximately 10 percent of its student body identifying as Friends, is at the high end of the spectrum in terms of Quaker representation at Friends colleges, says Rebecca Mays, clerk of the Friends Association for Higher Education. What distinguishes Guilford and other Quaker colleges as Quaker institutions is not a plurality of Quaker students, Mays says. There just aren’t enough Quakers around aspiring to enroll. Instead, the colleges are known for a commitment to the religion’s peace testimony and for fostering a sense of inclusiveness through silent worship service and an embrace of patient listening.

“It’s why you can have a Quaker school with only 10 percent card-carrying Quakers. The meeting for worship in silence allows for an inclusivity that’s remarkable. And so anyone whose practice is at all grounded in the spirit will find a place to walk there and be respected,” Mays says. Guilford is among institutions like Earlham College in Indiana that still maintain particularly strong ties to their respective regional Quaker associations. Other colleges — founded by Quakers and still embracing parts of their philosophy — are now officially secular. These include Bryn Mawr and Swarthmore Colleges in Pennsylvania. (Quick fact: “Hold onto your bonnet,” says Max Carter, director of Guilford’s Friends Center — North Carolina has the highest percentage of Quakers in the nation).

“There’s a particularity going on and an inclusivity. It’s very exciting. And high-striving, which is why when something happens at Guilford like it did, it’s newsworthy, because it’s very high-striving. It’s a high ideal and when you strive for a high ideal, people point a finger at you more when you fall short of it,” Mays says...


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