Friday, March 24, 2006

Jeebus Says So

And while we're visiting the Chronicle --

Here's an article about a place called Pensacola Christian College.

Not accredited. Tuition plus room and board? Six thousand a year. Students aren't allowed to cruise, or read any book not in the library, or ride elevators with members of the opposite sex -- or, and this is my favorite, hold eye contact with someone of the opposite sex for too long. (That's called "optical intercourse." I'm like, well, all right then.) (Making eye contract with someone of the same sex is, apparently, just fine. Gay eye sex is cool. Heh.) Woman students are not allowed to hold jobs off campus, or to leave campus alone. Ever. (Or with make students, obviously.)

Here's more:

Lisa Morris was walking to class with her boyfriend last October when something happened. At first Ms. Morris, a sophomore music major, is reluctant to divulge the details. Eventually, however, the truth comes out: He patted her behind.

Someone who witnessed the incident reported Ms. Morris and her boyfriend. At Pensacola any physical contact between members of the opposite sex is forbidden. (Members of the same sex may touch, although the college condemns homosexuality.) The forbidden contact includes shaking hands and definitely includes patting behinds. Both students were expelled.

Of Pensacola's many rules, those dealing with male-female relationships are the most talked about. There are restrictions on when and where men and women may speak to each other. Some elevators and stairwells may be used only by women; others may be used only by men. Socializing on particular benches is forbidden. If a man and a woman are walking to class, they may chat; if they stop en route, though, they may be in trouble. Generally men and women caught interacting in any "unchaperoned area" — which is most of the campus — could be subject to severe penalties.

Those rules extend beyond the campus. A man and a woman cannot go to an off-campus restaurant together without a chaperon (usually a faculty member). Even running into members of the opposite sex off campus can lead to punishment. One student told of how a group of men and a group of women from the college happened to meet at a McDonald's last spring. Both groups were returning from the beach (they had gone to separate beaches; men and women are not allowed to be at the beach together). The administration found out, and all 15 students were expelled.

There are three levels of official punishment at Pensacola (four, if you count expulsion). Students can be "socialed," "campused," or "shadowed." Students who are socialed are not allowed to talk to members of the opposite sex for two weeks. Those who are campused may not leave the college grounds for two weeks or speak to other campused students.

There are plenty of other ways to run afoul of the rules. Last spring Timothy Dow was caught playing the video game Halo 2. Such games are banned by the college. Movies are also forbidden, including those rated G. Music is restricted to classical or approved Christian ("contemporary Christian" artists are deemed too worldly). Students are allowed to watch television news at 6 o'clock, but that's it. The TVs are controlled by college employees, who flip a switch to black out the commercials, lest students see anything inappropriate.

In the library, books and magazines are censored. One student says she saw a pair of black-marker boxer shorts on a photograph of Michelangelo's David. Any books that students wish to read that are not in the library must first be approved by administrators. Those containing references to "magic," for instance, are normally rejected. The rule book specifically prohibits "fleshly magazines and books."

Pensacola Christian College was founded by Bob Horton and his wife Rebekah, "graduates of Bob Jones University. While it appears that [Horton] copied his alma mater's demerit system and some of its rules, there is a longstanding rift between the two institutions. Several years ago, Pensacola publicly criticized Bob Jones University for using translations of the Bible other than the King James Version. (Pensacola's policy is that the King James is the only divinely inspired English translation.)

(My emphasis.)

Students who go to this fine institution discover, once they've been kicked out for looking too deeply into someone's eyes, or even after they have graduated, that their coursework and their degrees are, often, useless:

[Harding] applied to the University of Florida and was told that none of his credits would transfer. "I had to start over," he says. So, after three years at Pensacola, he enrolled as a freshman at nearby Santa Fe Community College and later transferred to Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, from which he eventually graduated.

He says he called Pensacola for help, and offi-cials there provided none: "There's no label that says, 'We're not accredited.' How many 18-year-olds know enough to ask that?"

When he was a student, Mr. Harding traveled with a singing group that promoted Pensacola. When prospective students asked about accreditation, Mr. Harding says the singers were instructed to tell them that Harvard and Yale are not accredited, either, and so accreditation doesn't matter. (Harvard and Yale, for the record, are accredited.)

Lack of accreditation has been a problem for Amy Brown, too. She graduated from Pensacola in 2003 with a degree in early-childhood education. But because the college is not accredited, she cannot teach in public schools, she says. She had no idea what accreditation was before enrolling at Pensacola.

"I never tried to transfer," she writes in an e-mail message, "because I had friends that did and ended up with all of their credits as electives," meaning that they had to retake required courses.

You can argue this is just rank discrimination against religious institutions, we biased liberals elites refusing accreditation to PCC -- except accreditation isn't something that just gets handed out. It's earned, by proving that an institutions does certain things, such as teach what it says it teaches, produce what it says it produces (for instance, here at UAFS, nurses who can pass exams, accountants who can do accounting): whatever the standards are for your region. PCC knows it can't pass those standards (probably because one of them is that its science department actually has to teach science) and so it hasn't even applied.

Universities aren't taking any of its courses, though. What's that tell you? Not even the Freshmen courses. Not even Comp I! Not even Sociology! Not even Golf!

I'll tell you what it tells me. Whatever they're teaching at that school, it's not university level work.


zelda1 said...

Oh my gosh, did I get a back flash of my youth and all those two week summer church camps that I started going to at age 6 and continued going to until I graduated high school. It was part of my life, I had to do it and I hated it. In fact, it was a two week from hell kind of thing. No swimming with the opposite sex, well not the young opposite sex, we did, however, have male preachers who swam with us. Yes, they were right there flirting with all of the older girls and one day I was an older girl and yes, they were more than flirty, not all but a couple of them were. How do you say in a lake full of preacher men and religious women, hey that preacher, touched my couchey? Anyway, no mingling with the opposite sex or you were confined to your room. No smoking, no cursing, no magazines or books that were not christian, and no, absolutely no drugs. Well, that was how it was, and for those two weeks, I found ways to sneak away and many a night, my friends and I walked to town and met up with rowdies. Yes and we smoked and a few times drank and made out and they drove us to the road and we hiked back to our little cabin, none the wiser. It was so much fun to break their rules. My sister wanted me to go to one of the religious schools. I went and toured it and thought, fuck no. I would die there. All the girls in long dresses, this was in the 70s. No way. Those poor misguided people, throwing away all the time and for naught. That school should be fined for fraud.

Diane said...

I know all of this is true, but I'm having trouble picturing it. It was bad enough when I went to college at a regular state school. You know, the usual routine--boys could do whatever they wanted and girls had to be at a certain time every night. I remember a friend of mine got kicked out of her sorority because she passed pizza out her dorm window to someone.

But this...this is absurb beyond belief. You know there must be all kind of crazy sex going on, and I'll bet a lot of it is between students and faculty.