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  • to Buzzword, on "Hypocrisy at 'Christian' universities"

    Dear Buzzword,
    Thanks for all your contributions, including this post which you placed in "Young Adults." Since I'm not in the age range, I can't comment there, but I would like to comment.
    Originally posted by Buzzword, emphasis added by SK View Post
    At the moment, this doesn't directly affect me, but it is affecting my girlfriend and did affect me for the three yeats I attended a denominational university.

    The issue is this:
    Why do Christian universities tout their students as somehow more responsible and/or more mature than students at nonreligious institutions, yet do more than anyone else to hamper their students and treat them like children?

    Example:
    On your first day as a freshman, you are fed this huge BS line about how you are a "Christian college student," an "ambassador for Christ to the world," etc etc.
    However, if you live in the dorms, you have a midnight curfew.
    Students of the opposite sex live on the other side of campus, and co-ed visits are only allowed a few times a week/month.

    During those visits, room doors must be kept open, lights kept on, and everyone must stay in a verticle position (whether standing or sitting up).

    If you DON'T live on campus, and are under 23, you have to APPLY for PERMISSION to live off-campus, you MUST be living with parents, and have to sign what is in effect a loyalty oath that no smoking, drinking, nudity will occur at your place of residence.

    If you were kicked out of your parents' house at 18, and are actually living as an adult RIGHT NOW, tough cookies.


    Now, I do realize it's their university, their rules.
    However, it screams extreme hypocrisy to spend so much time and energy building students up as better than everyone else, then refusing to give them the rights and priviledges of even regular adults.
    A couple points: First, the rules that bother you used to be standard at most universities.

    At lots of secular universities in the mid to late 1960s, very similar rules were in effect in the dorms. Our Freshman dorms, at a State school, were separated into a men's quad and a women's quad and there were limits on visiting hours. A good friend who went to UC Berkeley had a curfew at her Sorority, etc.

    What's happened is that the whole culture has become much more permissive, and much less willing to have standards which set bounds on sexual conduct, even for young people. The resulting society -- whether for that reason or other reasons -- has much higher rates of tenn sex, out-of-wedlock births, depression, broken families, crime, teenage prenancy, and so on. In my view, the loosening of standards was a mistake, and makes people, on average, unhappier. I don't think it makes people signficantly "freer".

    Christian colleges are championing, and upholding -- and maybe even tightening -- standards that large parts of society adhered to, and had in place sanctions and rules to assure adherence to, a couple generations ago. I'm not sure that that is a bad thing.

    Second, I don't see where the hypocrisy lies in telling people one expects them to be mature and responsible, but also setting up some safeguards.

    We do this in all kinds of areas of life. I might choose for employees at a bank, people who are the most responsible I can find, and tell them, sincerely, that I have confidence in them, and expect them to be good employees and represent the bank well. I don't see how that would make it "hypocritical" for me to have some checks and safeguards, against embezzlement, or to ensure that people are on track in treating customers politely.

    I see nothing "hypocritical" about telling one's own children that one expects lots of them, and trusts them, but then having rules about how they behave and a curfew, or checking their report cards.

    You will say: "but we are adults"! Well, yes and no. 18yos are partly counted as adult, partly as minors. But even over age 21, people -- especially those who are living in a situation provided partly by the generosity of others, and especially those under the age of 30 -- are in a transitional position on the way to adulthood, in many societies. (Almost all college students -- including those paying "full tuition" and fees -- cost the college far more than they pay. Donors, including alumni, have contributed lots in building buildings and in other cost, in annual contributions, and so on; faculty and staff are usually choosing jobs less lucative than some they could get, and working harder, in order to contribute to the students' education.)

    What, in your view, is wrong with that set of expectations?
    I ask sincerely, wanting to have you articulate your position.

    Third, the purpose in enforcing parietal rules (rules about student conduct) does not just have to do with individual students, but with the whole atmosphere that a college creates.

    I have lived in a small neighborhood community where the speed limit is 20mph. And there are speed bumps -- nasty ones! Couldn't we just be trusted to drive safely? Sure, mostly. But the effect of those rules is to create a zone very safe for kids who play in their neighborhoods. Partly because those who don't want such rules choose to live elsewhere.

    Similarly, I've known colleges where no student is allowed to drink, and no one is allowed to drink on campus; and other colleges where even the faculty pledge not to drink even off campus. Do the colleges think that is wrong -- contrary to Scripture -- to drink. No. Definitely not. And no one expects, or desires, that once the students graduate they'll never have a drink. Instead, these rules create a culture in which people find ways to build relationships not based on drinking. One young man I know, who went to such a college, had a girlfriend who went to a school, a school nominally Christian also, where there were no such rules. He said that, on the weekends, the kids all got drunk.

    Setting bounds, having clear standards -- even ones stricter than is required (cf. Dan. 1) -- and enforcing them is a way of establishing a certain kind of culture and way of life that one learns, and then knows how to carry on in an environment where such rules don't exist, and in a life where one may rightly be living by somewhat less restrictive rules.

    I would be very interested in your thinking on, or response to, these points!!

    Thanks again for your candid and interesting post!!

    In friendship,
    Scruffy Kid.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Scruffy Kid View Post
    At lots of secular universities in the mid to late 1960s, very similar rules were in effect in the dorms. Our Freshman dorms, at a State school, were separated into a men's quad and a women's quad and there were limits on visiting hours. A good friend who went to UC Berkeley had a curfew at her Sorority, etc...

    Christian colleges are championing, and upholding -- and maybe even tightening -- standards that large parts of society adhered to, and had in place sanctions and rules to assure adherence to, a couple generations ago. I'm not sure that that is a bad thing.
    Hey, I thought I'd reply here too since I replied in the YA thread. Stinks that you can't post in there! Maybe a Mod could merge the threads somehow?

    The real issue, at least how I see it, is trying to draw the distinction between necessary and frivolous rules. Some of the rules are certainly reasonable, well intentioned and Biblical. Others seem to cross the line into intense legalism and babying. Sure, secular universities used to have gender segregated dorms. But did they ever have gender-segregated tables, stairways, and elevators? Or explicit rules on the amount of time it is acceptable to maintain eye contact or conversation with the opposite gender? Some rules seem to be a good idea taken too far.

    In addition, what most disturbs me is the express ban in many colleges on critical thought and expression. Many Christian colleges censor student speech, art and dissent, as well as filtering academic resources and perspectives. In an institution that is supposed to be about higher education, it seems counterproductive and 1984-style dictatorial. Having kids spy on and report each other for infractions is just kind of creepy.
    Female. 17. Thinking hard about Christ.

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