Xian Parenting Tip #157: Get Thy Children to a Cult, uh, I mean College!
This is a lovely little article found via Pharyngula that illustrates student life at Pensacola Christian College- an unaccredited "college".
The campus looks just like the glossy brochure: clean, green, and beautiful. The students are well dressed and well groomed, not a pair of jeans or scrappy goatee in sight. Inside the Commons building, two students engage in a spirited game of Ping-Pong. When one of them misses an easy shot, he cries, "Praise the Lord!"
Pensacola Christian College prides itself on being different, not just from secular colleges, but from fellow Christian ones, too. Some of those differences, like the way students dress, are obvious to any visitor. Others are not. Since its founding, more than 30 years ago, Pensacola has blossomed from a tiny Bible college into a thriving institution of nearly 5,000 students. Along the way it has become known as among the most conservative — and most secretive — colleges in the country.
Lisa Morris was walking to class with her boyfriend last October when something happened. At first Ms. Morris, 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.
Even couples who are not talking or touching can be reprimanded. Sabrina Poirier, a student at Pensacola who withdrew in 1997, was disciplined for what is known on the campus as "optical intercourse" — staring too intently into the eyes of a member of the opposite sex. This is also referred to as "making eye babies." While the rule does not appear in written form, most students interviewed for this article were familiar with the concept.
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."
The most tragic outcome of this? These poor kids think they're getting an education - however, attending a "college" that is not accredited means credits can't be transferred. But, they still think they'll be employable after "college".
Mr. Ghobrial, the student from Egypt who doesn't mind the rules, wants to attend dental school. His first choice, West Virginia University, has already said it would not consider his application, because Pensacola is not accredited. "I'm hoping they change their minds," he says.
So, what's that about religion NOT being just indoctrination and control again?