Something is rotten in the state of BJU. If this handbook is any indication, there is severe psychological, emotional and spiritual abuse taking place at this university. It’s unspeakably oppressive. My heart breaks for these young men and women being subjected to such harsh legalism–all in the name of Christ!
I can only hope that this latest incident with Chris Peterman will break open the culture of secrecy and oppression.
The rules are so complicated and so insanely specific that I had to read some of them like five times just to figure out what was “appropriate” and “not appropriate.” BJU’s rules are oddly worded (as if trying to hide the fact that it’s a huge list of Thou Shalt Nots?)–ie. wearing a jacket over a sleeveless IS appropriate. But what that rule really means is that wearing a sleeveless shirt by itself is forbidden.
This is fundamentalism at its finest/scariest.
Here are some highlights from the Dress Code and Disciplinary System in BJU’s Student Handbook:
- For women: necklines should be no lower than 4 fingers’ width below the collarbone–pg.31 [I would NOT be surprised if the Dean of Women--or other rule-enforcer--went around doing a 4 Finger Check]
- Denim, spandex, terrycloth, flannel and velour pants are not to be worn outside home–pg.32 [three cheers for polyester!!!]
- No denim skirts, dresses, Crocs, Birkenstocks, hiking boots, athletic shoes or baseball caps are to be worn in class–pg. 32 [Birkenstocks are evil, LIBERAL shoes. But Crocs? What a Croc!]
- There are NINE categories of clothing requirements: General, Class Attire, Non-Class Campus Attire, Casual Attire, Rehearsals, Sunday/Formal Attire, Recreational/Work Attire, Jewelry & Makeup, Hair–pg. 33 [hey! where the Hittin' Da Club attire?]
- “Makeup should be worn in moderation, so that it does not draw attention to itself“–pg. 33 [Wait. What? Makeup draws attention to ITSELF? As in, better watch out for those tubes of red lipstick, they be all up in your face drawing attention to ITSELF.]
- Hair color should appear natural–pg. 33 [it doesn't have to beeeeee natural. it just has to APPEAR natural, am I right, ladies?]
- Men: wear a polo shirt and Docker pants–pg. 34 [all I'm saying is that Classic Cult Attire is a collared polo shirt and Docker pants. Lands' End and L.L. Bean have made bank off conservative, fundamentalist Christians]
- Men should have short hair–but not too short! (No shaved heads, no fauxhawks). Hair should come no lower than one finger width above the eyebrow. And men should use a blending attachment when trimming their hair.–pg. 36 [yes, BJU actually specifies that men should use a BLENDING ATTACHMENT when trimming their hair. Dude, could we get ANY more specific?]
- Why, yes. Yes, we can.
- Men should not have sideburns any “lower than the lower opening of the ear”–pg. 36.
- Literal quote: “Students are to shave each morning and to remain clean-shaven (no facial hair) throughout the day.”–pg. 36 [In case you don't know what clean-shaven means? It means no facial hair. Just so we're clear. NO FACIAL HAIR. Carry that shaving kit to class! Shave, man, shave!]
- When inside your dorm room, “close the room blinds when it is dark outside”–pg. 37 [So, what you're saying is: don't dance in front of the window naked?]
- Room check at 11am, Monday through Friday. [make sure your blinds are open!]
- Lights out is at midnight and literal quote: “at which time students are to be in their own beds and quiet with all lights in the room turned off. This precludes talking, studying, texting and eating between midnight and 5 a.m.”–pg. 38 [is this a university or a JAIL????]
- Personal evaluations: “residence hall students receive a private, personal evaluation. These evaluations are intended to help students become aware of what a person looks like who is experiencing mature adjustment and demonstrating a good testimony and to help students evaluate where they stand in their own personal adjustment and testimony.”–pg.39 [Do you know what this really means? This means people are watching you, reporting on you and then you get "evaluated" on all your behavior. This is just downright sick and such a HUGE opening for abusive mistreatment of students.]
- Quote from section on ‘The Heart of Discipline at BJU’–pg. 43. “Sanctification is progressive; therefore, BJU does not expect perfection…Consequences may vary based on sincere repentance versus repeated offenses…Spiritual growth and discipline at BJU are everyone’s responsibility. Faculty and staff along with Student Life are involved in student lives, and students are involved in each other’s lives. The campus community pledges together to help each other grow and hold each other accountable with the goal of encouraging the spiritual success of every individual on campus.” [BJU doesn't expect perfection? Then why so many specific, complicated rules? This whole paragraph justifies a culture of informants, reporting on each other and saying it's all for the sake of 'spiritual growth.']
- Demerits given for: “misuse of media” (50-150 demerits), “disrespect/disobedience” (50-150 demerits). [DISOBEDIENCE?!?! Is this even LEGAL? Adult university students can be given up to 150 demerits for DISOBEDIENCE? Disobeying whom? Their "residence hall advisor" for not cleaning up their room properly? This is such an outrage!]
- Avoid walking on the grass–pg. 49
- Cars have the right of way–pg. 49
- Respond to requests from administrators within 24 hours–pg.49
- Bring a printed Bible to chapel–pg. 49
- No political posters or bumper stickers–pg. 49
- Get approval before posting material on bulletin boards–pg. 49
- No guest speakers, organizing new groups, fundraising or surveying student body without Dean approval–pg. 51 [yes, let's squelch ALL freedom of speech at BJU!]
- “Bob Jones University provides an educational environment free of harassment of any kind—sexual, racial or otherwise”–pg. 51 [Free of harassment? This entire handbook is nothing but a COMPLETE HARASSMENT MANUAL!]
- “Students who marry while under 20 years of age may not continue enrollment“–pg. 52
- Student art must be checked by faculty before exposition–pg. 53
- “The fine arts music checker checks all special music”–pg.53 [A Fine Arts Music Checker. Hello, KGB]
- Small groups for shopping or sightseeing are to “check in with the group leader every two hours.”–pg. 55 [check in every.two.hours. Is this a rule-list for convicted felons locked in a maximum security prison?]
- “Instead of making entertainment choices indiscriminately or insulating oneself from all entertainment, Christians should follow God’s example: create a resistance to the allurement of evil by wisely applying small doses of antigen in the form of critical reading, watching and listening.“–pg. 60 [Wisely apply small doses of antigen by subscribing to Elizabeth Esther's Blog!]