Administrators concerned with students' vulnerability to cult-like activity

Kansas State Collegian, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 1999
By Jamie Barrett

K-State has a good reputation. The students and staff are friendly, the campus scene usually is alive and busy and the faculty is open and involved. But having a good reputation isn't all it's cracked up to be.

K-State's good reputation makes the campus vulnerable to destructive, cult-like groups, Pat Bosco, dean of student life, said.

"We are happy that we have a reputation as being so friendly, but we also want to keep students aware that there are destructive groups out there that take advantage of that," Bosco said.

Carla Jones, associate dean of student life, said campus officials want to raise awareness about cults to prevent incidents involving cults and K-State students.

"Students should understand the type of destructive behavior cults display," Jones said. "We would hate for there to be an incident involving cults and our students."

Cults are not a big problem at K-State, Bosco said, but campus officials still want students to be aware of them.

By definition, a destructive group is a group of people whose main goal is to deceive students and try to isolate them from other aspects of their lives. Destructive groups are controlling of their members, often practicing mind control, deception and exploitation.

Jones said cults often try to pressure people into going places and attending events.

"Never give out your phone number or e-mail address," Jones said. "Once a cult-like group gets that information on you, they will continue to pressure you through those methods."

Bosco said the instances of seeing cult-like groups are more common during this time of year because of the pressures of the new school year.

"Be wary of individuals that may approach you with vague information on events and functions," he said.

Cult-like destructive groups commonly are professional in nature. Many are highly organized, sometimes nationally or internationally. Bosco said the groups typically are not affiliated with the university.

The development of destructive, cult-like groups is on the rise. There are from 3,000 to 5,000 new religious movements operating in North America today.

Many campus ministries are open to helping students gain knowledge of cults or keep away from them.

Father Keith Weber of Saint Isidore's Catholic Student Center said he never has had to deal with a destructive group victim personally, but said he knows how he would handle the situation.

"I would talk to the person about why they were in the group in the first place and try to find other students to help support them in a positive way," Weber said.

Bosco said the best way to deal with a destructive group is to find some outside support from ministers, student life staff or another K-State staff member.

"We are here to prevent any type of accidental affiliation with a destructive group," he said. "Students just need to ask questions and be aware."


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