by Summer MengarelliCan you remember the day you signed the Greenville College Lifestyle Statement? It was probably the summer before your freshman year, or much more recently if you are a transfer student. No matter when it was that you signed away drinking, smoking, and your right to share a blanket with your significant other, you have probably been complaining about it ever since. However, a little research into the student handbooks and covenants of other Christian schools around America shows that ours might not be that bad.
Though profane lyrics are not encouraged at Blackroom performances, the building itself would be illegal on the campus of Bob Jones University, a Christian school located in Greenville, South Carolina. (isn’t that ironic?) According to BJU’s most recent student handbook, students are not allowed to listen to “Rock, Pop, Country, Jazz, Electronic/Techno, Rap/Hip Hop or the fusion of any of these genres” or “music in which Christian lyrics or biblical texts are set to music which is, in whole or in part, derived from any of these genres or their subgenres.” This means that most music integral to the Greenville community would be banned — from the original lyrics of student artists like Darryl Seals and Mandy Pennington, to the rock-influenced worship songs sung by Pursuit teams at chapel and Vespers.
It’s a well-known stereotype that people at Christian colleges tend to get married young — we all know of that one NSO couple who became the next ring by spring. At Greenville, if you get married early, the worst thing you’ll deal with is your friends teasing you for awhile. At BJU, however, if you get married before you turn 20, you can no longer attend the school. Pensacola Christian College in Pensacola, Florida, makes dating difficult in general, requiring chaperones for couples and prohibiting any and all physical touch between men and women.
Though Greenville’s handbook cites “immodesty” as something to avoid, we do not actually have a dress code, and we don’t agree to any specific rules of dress when we sign the Lifestyle Statement. This seems pretty rare for Christian schools; many have dress codes prohibiting guys from having long hair or ungroomed facial hair (there goes half the male population of Greenville) and girls from having short hair (someone please explain what “neat and feminine” means). Many schools also prohibit girls from wearing shorts or leggings to class, and guys can’t wear skinny jeans or sandals (sorry, that means no Chacos).
Paul Quinn College in Dallas, Texas, requires its students to dress business casual during all class times. The penalty for breaking dress code is at PQC is unusual: students found in violation of the dress code will either be fined $200 or undergo a “test of physical endurance.” Bob Jones University specifically discourages its students from buying or wearing Abercrombie & Fitch, stating that the brand has shown “an unusual degree of antagonism to biblical morality.”
One of the biggest complaints GC students have about the Lifestyle Statement is its zero-tolerance policy toward alcohol consumption. When you come to Greenville, you agree to not consume or possess alcohol, on campus or at home, while you are a student; until last school year, not even faculty were exempt from the restriction. While Greenville usually seems to be more liberal in its policies than other Christian schools, this ban is pretty standard. Many other schools, like Oral Roberts University and Pepperdine University, also prohibit their students from any consumption or possession of alcohol. Sorry kids, you’ll have to settle for overpriced juice at the Student Union for now.
Signing Greenville College’s Lifestyle Statement means agreeing to abstain from certain activities. However, it also means agreeing to partake in a community (I know, everyone’s favorite word) that is designed to foster morality and respect for others. Reading other schools’ student handbooks shows that Greenville’s restrictions and policies are not as bad as they could be. For instance, Greenville students retain the ability to protest on campus, as exemplified during football season this year, and through avenues such as Student Senate, GCSA, and meetings with administration, we can have a say in our restrictions. Meanwhile, schools such as Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, prohibit political protests and demonstrations. Greenville is by no means perfect, but we can be thankful for the rights our Lifestyle Statement does allow, like the ability to work for change on campus.