Collegiate Commons Inc.

Collegiate Commons Inc. is a 501(c)(3) news and educational organization dedicated to preserving the Christian intellectual and social tradition in higher education while giving a voice to the local community. Currently, the nonprofit runs two publications.

The Collegiate Commons, which is centered at Indiana University-Indianapolis, has contributors from around the state of Indiana and aims to preserve the identity of historic educational institutions in a world where higher education, like local journalism, is struggling.

The American Commons is a national publication aimed at exploring Christian Democracy in the United States and providing a resolutely localist perspective on U.S. politics.

Our History

The founders of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis envisioned a campus that was responsive to the needs of the surrounding community. Well, they did not necessarily have a choice.

The Madam Walker Legacy Center | Courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society

As Indiana University’s ambitions grew in the capitol of the Hoosier state, so did the concerns of the residents of Indiana Avenue. Already suffering from a housing shortage, many would soon be displaced and their property purchased by the city to make room for the growing Indianapolis campus.

After the Indiana University extension campus merged with the Purdue extension campus to become IUPUI, student organizations such as the Black Student Union battled the new university’s administration to try and keep their priorities straight and to bring them more in line with the local community.

IUPUI’s student paper at the time, The Sagamore, which replaced the IU Onomatopoeia and the Purdue Component, served an important role in giving those students a voice and helping to unite the newly formed campus. It too, however, was impacted by societal changes such as the development of internet that ultimately led to the demise of local journalism. It lost its independence, became a class, and died around 2009. In 2011, The Campus Citizen appeared to take up its mantle.

For a time the new paper did well, but its focus was limited and its close relationship to the Department of Journalism at IUPUI limited its independence. As a wider variety of students with different perspectives and from different schools became interested in the paper, it became clear to some that The Campus Citizen’s lack of independence and narrow focus made it difficult to address the most poignant issues facing our community and our generation, and the corruption, inefficiency, and politicization that has infected our institutions of culture from top to bottom. Part of that involved a general disdain for and avoidance of religious topics and perspectives, despite their importance to so many members of the campus community as well as the surrounding culture. While remaining non-sectarian, then, we made it part of our mission to give Christians a voice on campus at IUPUI and the rest of the state.

Our founding

After consulting with several local community members, some politically-minded students at multiple Indianapolis universities, journalists from The Chicago Civic Update, and the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, The Collegiate Commons was born in the Fall of 2023. The time was ripe, as Indiana University’s ambitions were growing in the city once more, as IUPUI would become Indiana University-Indianapolis and Purdue in Indianapolis.

We recognize now, however, that the issue is much bigger than one institution. Local communities as a whole are dying, and local journalism with them. The death of the local community – along with the death of the local church – is directly tied with many of the issues that college students face today. Homeownership and a stable family life – once hallmarks of the American Dream – appear further and further away for the average college-aged student.

Several historically Christian educational institutions also surround IUPUI, alongside numerous historic churches. As these institutions have faded in prominence and some have moved away from the values that once characterized their faith, the family and the local community around them have faded as well.

That is why we have decided this venture of once again putting the community at the forefront of the mind of students is too big for one school to achieve on their own, and have involved students from across Indiana (including students from Butler University, the University of Indianapolis, Indiana University Bloomington, Ball State, Ivy Tech, and others), and gone even as far as Great Britain.

Our focus

Courtesy of Butler University

None of the founding writers of The Collegiate Commons were looking to go into journalism as a career. They wrote, and they continue to write, because they care about their campuses and their communities.

Because of its commitment to independence and remaining non-partisan, it does not lobby, nor does it take university or political-party funding. This gives it the freedom to report honestly about the issues and events that matter most to students.

Despite our editors and contributors coming from a variety of political perspectives and faith traditions, The Collegiate Commons editorial focus is staunchly localist, communitarian, and family-oriented, with an emphasis on human dignity at all stages of life.