Fraternities. Sororities. The Black Student Union (BSU). Union Latina. The Gay Union of Trenton State (GUTS). The College’s Web site calls them student organizations. But walk around campus any day of the week and you will find more cliques than in a high school cafeteria.
The English majors spend their time in Bliss Hall, the engineering majors are in Armstrong and the musically inclined can usually be found in the aptly named Music Building.
And, while there is most certainly a discrepancy between the amount of diversity the administration tells us we have and the amount we see on campus, students are not lacking in choices when it comes to how they spend their four years.
Imagine, though, for a second, that you are still in high school and the College is your first choice for higher education. Not because of Greek life, not because of the variety of student publications and not because you have been assured that the construction will be finished and the campus will be restored to its “tree-lined” self before you enter as a freshman.
You want to come here because it offers you an academic advantage no other school can – the new forensics program for instance.
Now imagine that you are accepted, and on the first day of orientation you are asked to sign a paper stipulating that you will not use drugs, alcohol or tobacco on school property, you will attend mandatory chapel services every morning and you will not engage in any homosexual activity on or off campus.
Don’t worry. That could never happen here – both the old and new chapel could barely contain Sunday morning services, let alone the entire student body.
But, were you attending Azusa Pacific University (APU) in California, the second largest evangelical Christian college (8,200 students) in the U.S. for their unique forensics program, you would be required to do just that.
APU, recently profiled in Time Magazine as an example of the rise in popularity of faith-based education, is just one of the country’s 104 christ-centered colleges and universities.
It might be fair if one wants to take the tolerant approach and be satisfied to think that ‘it doesn’t affect me so let people do what they want.’ But what about the bigger picture?
In an international community that is becoming, daily, more heterogeneous and multi-dimensional, how can we afford to ignore the fact that those 104 institutions are fostering environments of judgment and condemnation?
College should be a place to question, expand your mind and your view and to prepare yourself for the realities of the world into which we will all inevitably be thrown. It should not be a place where conformity is encouraged and the rule of thumb is to accept without question.
It is fine for Catholic grade schools to teach creationism – there are still four years of high school and four years of college to repair the damage. But how can one reasonably expect a student coming out of that kind of shallow environment to function successfully in a world that accepts so much more from the universe and those that inhabit it?
What kind of real-world preparation can these institutions possibly claim when their policies achieve nothing more than creating the largest clique the socially unaccepting could hope for?
The College teaches theology and philosophy, and many students immerse themselves in the spiritual element available to them through various religious groups on campus.
The College is also aware, however, that the world does not function in one sphere and students should be prepared to operate in diverse and often uncomforatble surroundings.
And if, as the article suggests, such institutions are improving their academic programs and slowly becoming attractive for reasons other than their devotion to spirituality, how is such an environment expected to be acceptable to the non-Christian seeking nothing more than a good education?
And, while they won’t hang their “Only white, middle-class Christians allowed” sign on the door, can we really afford to have that be the mind-set colleges and universities are unleashing on society?
To each his own. However, we should not condone the acceptance of those unwilling to accept, compromise and truly educate the youth of today, upon whom so much is riding especially considering the turmoil of our very uncertain present.