The Loneliness Crisis on Campus

For Immediate Release

Students at Russell Sage College and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, in Troy, New York, can easily find out who the Christians are on their campuses. InterVarsity students bring them cookies every week. Students can sign up for the deliveries throughout the school year, the cookies are made by members of local churches.

One student recently told the cookie team that their presence was a comfort to him. He knew that if he felt stressed or lonely, there was a group of people who cared about him.

Stress and particularly loneliness have become a more ominous presence on college campuses. A survey by the global health service company Cigna has found loneliness at epidemic levels in the US, particularly with ages 18-22. A YouGov survey proclaimed Millenials the loneliest generation. The Higher Education Research Institute reports its Freshman Survey finds students rating both their physical and emotional health lower and lower every year.  

These kinds of mental health concerns are familiar to InterVarsity Campus Staff Ministers. “Students often don't know how to have conversations, do conflict, and link theoretical faith values to day-to-day prayer, vulnerability, and community,” said Scott Hall, a veteran staff member based in Kent, Washington. Before teaching about doctrine and Christian values, he said students need to be shown how to love, pray, talk, and share with each other.

On the campus of San Juan College in Farmington, New Mexico, the InterVarsity chapter has countered loneliness with a tradition of weekly, family meals on campus for students. “It helps to be together, share laughs, know each other, see what the whole community’s like,” said Campus Staff Minister Rashawn Ramone. Before, “they never really had time to be able to sit down with other people and listen to them.”

InterVarsity President Tom Lin believes genuine community, much needed on today’s campuses, is the starting place for campus ministry. “Students need to have places where they can be themselves, ask questions, find encouragement, and learn about Jesus,” he said. “Our 2030 Calling will offer this on more and more campuses every year.”

InterVarsity starts the 2019-2020 school year with 1119 student and faculty chapters on 772 campuses across the US, from the Ivy League to community colleges. During the previous academic year, InterVarsity saw 3,140 decisions to follow Christ through our campus ministry, up 39 percent from ten years ago. InterVarsity is a founding member of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students and a charter member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.

For more information:
Gordon Govier