Public Service Announcement:
Unauthorized High Pressure Religious Groups on Boston Campus
CSDS has received many concerning reports of unauthorized religious groups approaching students on or near the Boston Campus. These interactions may seem innocuous at first, but often involve high-pressure and manipulative tactics which can affect our students’ mental health, academic performance, family/friend relationships, personal finances, privacy, and overall well being.
Specifically, we want to call your attention to Boston Church of Christ and Boston Alpha Omega (Boston AO) – which have been banned from Northeastern and other institutions for repeated violations of university policy.
If you think that you – or others you know – have been approached by or are involved with an unhealthy group, please email [email protected] and reach out to campus resources. Spiritual Advisors at CSDS can provide a confidential and nonjudgmental space for you to process your experiences and ask questions. Other resources include University Health and Counseling Services or We Care.
See here for more information including our full letter and a helpful guide describing characteristics of unhealthy groups, resources for protecting yourself and others, and language you might use to distance yourself.
Thank you for your attention to this matter and for helping us raise awareness as we work to promote safe and healthy spiritual life at Northeastern.
Groups (listed alphabetically below) are for members of the Northeastern community only, unless otherwise noted. Please keep in mind that many organizations do not meet over summers and intersessions.
Catholic Student Association
Conscious Connections – NU Employee Collective
CSDS Work-Study Team
First Love LCI Christian Group
Global Citizenship Pilgrims (GCP)
Mindfulness Fellows (Mellows)
Muslim and Jews InterConnectedness (MAJIC)
Refugee Empowerment & Awareness Campus Taskforce
Spirituality and the Arts
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
Yoga Affiliates Collective
Youth Empowerment Ministry (YEM)
Guidelines & Policies
Groups adhere to all standing university policies and regulations, including CSDS’s group guidelines and policies. You do not need to be an adherent to the relevant faith in order to attend open group meetings.
The Center for Spirituality, Dialogue and Service exists to serve, support, and nurture the religious and spiritual well-being of all within the university community. Toward this end, the following guidelines have been established to ensure a healthy environment where each person’s faith can be practiced and expressed freely and with integrity.
Support of Religious Groups, Programs, and Leaders
Student religious groups are invited and encouraged to work with the CSDS, which centralizes information on each group for distribution to new students. Groups are encouraged to keep the CSDS updated for inclusion in such publicity. They are also encouraged to seek university recognition from the Center for Student Involvement in order to enjoy the use of many additional Northeastern facilities, funds, and resources.
Each religious group is strongly encouraged to send at least one representative to our bi-weekly Dinner Dialogues, helping to increase interfaith and intercultural literacy among the many communities who make up CSDS.
Authorization of Religious Groups, Programs, and Leaders
All student groups engaged in religious- or spiritually-based activities on campus must be endorsed by CSDS, and are thereby accountable to Northeastern.To be endorsed, a student leader must meet with the executive director of CSDS and, if endorsed, renew their endorsement each September by visiting the executive director. Once recognized, groups can apply for university recognition through the Center for Student Involvement.
Spiritual Advisors and non-student leaders of student religious groups must be endorsed by the CSDS in order to work on campus. Such leaders are to meet with the executive director of CSDS upon appointment, periodically thereafter, and in Spiritual Advisors’ team meetings.
Non-student groups and individuals who are engaged in religious outreach to students on campus must be endorsed by the CSDS, and are thereby accountable to Northeastern.
Purpose of Campus Religious Activity
Religious activity at Northeastern should meet the needs and benefit the spiritual lives of the community. Religious groups and ministries whose purpose is primarily to draw members into non-Northeastern-based groups and local churches are not to conduct ministry work on campus. Likewise, groups and ministries that do not involve significant initiative and leadership from within the Northeastern community are not to conduct ministry work on campus.
Behavior of Religious Groups
Proselytizing, witness, or ministry that negatively impacts students or other members of the Northeastern community will not be tolerated. Such behavior may include, but is not limited to:
Harassment or coercion of any type
Pressure that takes advantage of unequal power dynamics (in age, language, etc.)
Entering residences uninvited by the person to whom one is speaking
Frequent or after-hours phone calls, emails, text messages, or instant messages that are unsolicited
Approaching individuals who have not themselves initiated contact
Continuing contact after an individual has said “no”
Collecting money, except when authorized by CSDS or SAO for an approved activity
Physical, mental or, emotional abuse
Unduly excluding or isolating of the group, or certain members of the group
Clusters of behaviors commonly held to be indicative of cults or destructive religions
Targeting people of another faith to convince them to leave that faith
Manipulation, deceit, or untruthfulness
Religious groups must practice truth in advertising. All literature, spoken communications, and events must clearly and accurately identify the religious nature of the event, all sponsoring groups, and the intent of the event. It is important students doing outreach identify themselves as members of a Northeastern-endorsed organization, to avoid confusion with outside groups who attempt to use the campus. Additionally, events may not function under a “bait-and-switch” approach—promising one type of event or sponsor and actually offering another.
No group may purposely misrepresent or denigrate another faith by verbal statements, or by distributing denigrating literature. Hate language is likewise unacceptable. Although disagreement among faiths is to be expected, such disagreement is to be communicated in an accurate, constructive, and respectful fashion.
If you think you may be involved with a harmful or destructive group in violation of any of the above guidelines, click here for a helpful resource.
Sanctions for Violations
Religious groups acting in violation of any of the guidelines will be subject to possible group probationary status or withdrawal of CSDS endorsement and university recognition.
Religious groups acting in violation of any standing Northeastern policies and regulations, or in violation of any laws, will be liable for possible judicial or legal action, as well as subject to group probationary status or withdrawal of CSDS endorsement and Northeastern recognition.