Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Babies and Bottles

Anderson University is a private (there's a key word) conservative Christian (more keys - that's who they are) institution of higher learning in Indiana, affiliated with the Church of God (could that be important?). I am not familiar with the school, but saw a piece on the news this morning about students there protesting the policy that forbids the use of alcohol.

A group of unhappy young adults who are registered students walked into a downtown bar and bellied up to make a protest statement. Essentially what they were saying is "Hey, we're 21 - legal adults in the USA - and that gives us certain rights. AU, loosen up on your alcohol policy for those of us of legal age. If we want to drink, we should be able to do so without retribution." You can read the story here.

But here's a sample of legal age and adulthood being two separate matters.

If you visit the university's web site, you'll find their policies on student life very clearly stated. Stated clearly enough, I might add, that incoming freshmen should have no problem understanding what they say.

Anderson U's policy on alcohol consumption states:
The purchase, possession, or use of alcohol or illegal drugs by any student on or off campus is prohibited. Individuals who drink alcoholic beverages off campus and return to campus will be subject to disciplinary action. Alcoholic beverage containers found in rooms, automobiles, etc., will be considered as evidence of drinking by the occupants. Alcoholic beverage containers, posters, and other items advertising alcoholic beverages are not permitted. Students annually receive a copy of the university policy on drugs and alcohol from the Department of Student Life. [emphases are mine]

Then below a listing of all their student life policies is this statement:
Students coming to this university agree to conduct themselves as responsible citizens and actively contribute to the quality of social, spiritual, and intellectual life. Violation of university policies subjects students to disciplinary action that could include warning, probation, or dismissal from the university. [again my emphases]

This post isn't about whether or not I or anyone else agrees with the policy. What I think about the policy doesn't matter. It's not my school. What it is about is being an adult, which is more than a birthday.

Hello boys and girls! When you matriculated and signed your name on the dotted line you agreed to the policies. Your signature implied your compliance. You willingly signed away any "right" to violate the policy. That was your agreement. You have annually been reminded and still you come back, again signifying your willing compliance.

Suck it up and keep your word. If you dont' like the policy there is an easy solution: transfer to another school! If you want to go to a school where the students set the policies go find one. But I doubt AU is a democracy. And for good reason.

A sign of adulthood is the ability to accept responsibility for your actions. That means some are actually "adults" in regard to maturity before age 21. But a birthday doesn't guarantee such status. You don't need a beer to be a man (or woman). You need to honor your word.


Anonymous said...

Oooo, very good post. Again, it's not about whether I agree or disagree with the's the fact that it is the policy and it was your choice to attend the school.

Like anything...if you don't like the rules, you're free to leave.

MJP said...

Just because the school has the rule stipulated in plain English does not make the rule morally or intellectually fair or correct. When you really take a moment to examine the policy logically, the students are actually committing a service to their school and degrees.

First, should an academic institution be focusing its energy on regulating an individual's decisions or constructing an open educational environment?
Second, if the school is truly preparing the students to engage the world in constructive ways, wouldn't it perhaps be more prudent to teach them moderation in alcohol rather than putting them in a shiny, safe bubble? I'm sure in your years of life you've learned that the best learning experiences came from the bumps and bruises and not necessarily the moments when you could skate through life unharmed and un-challenged.

Another way to look at it is this: if this is a higher learning institution, how can the students be expected to engage and master worldly issues when they are not even deemed to be masters of their self? What students see out of this policy is that the powers-that-be believe that they are not old enough nor mature enough to be able to consume alcohol (an act which is neither sinful nor irresponsible).

Just a few things to consider...

Rick Lawrenson said...

Good points. But they miss the point of the blog.

My hunch is that the position of the church that owns this college (therefore giving them the right to make policy) is not "moderation" but abstenance.

Fair or correct is not for us to say. That's why in my post I said this is not about whether or not you agree with the policy.

How AU chooses to educate is not my concern, either. I don't go there.

Again (and the point of the blog), if you know that coming in, (and all these students do) then either you submit to the authority or you remove yourself from being under it. That constitutes adult behavior.

But I wonder how many kids start drinking in college and are addicted the rest of their lives? I'm sure the stats are out there.

b lorenz said...

yikes, crazy stuff out there...

Kim said...

I attended a conservative Baptist college in the Pacific Northwest. When I CHOSE to attend this college, I also signed a code of conduct agreeing to abstain from alcohol, rock music, playing cards, PDA (public displays of affection), wearing shorts on campus - except while involved in a sporting event- attending movies at a movie theater and leaving the dorm after Dorm Time In. OH, and I had to wear dresses to class unless the forecasted LOW for the day was 25 or below.

Did is stink sometimes - especially when we petitioned to attend a Billy Graham movie that was playing in a local theater and were denied?


BUT, just as you said, I knew what I was getting into when I signed the code of conduct each and every semester. That college was not my only option, but it was MY choice.

These kids will never understand what it means to be mature citizens of a democracy until they understand what it means to honor a contract you willingly make with another and be true to your word - even when it is uncomfortable or, God forbid, "unfun".

Two words for these kids: GROW UP!

CFHusband said...

So far, the only commenter who has argued with your post of the only one who is also a current college student (according to his/her profile)...coincidence?

I also went to a school that had some relatively strict rules...I rebelled a bit in my own way, and now, looking back, regret that I didn't take the time to submit to authority...a few years out, and I'm still learning those lessons I should have learned in college.

Rick Lawrenson said...

Not a coincidence.

I think that the college years are times of learning to submit to authority when everything in you wants to be your own authority.

But after college, once you get in the real world, if you haven't learned that submission you'll fail in every aspect of life.

MJP said...

I wonder how long blacks would have lived in segregation if we all just "submitted to authority".

CFHusband said...

wow...did he really just compare 20-something's drinking alcohol to the civil rights movement? MJP...please tell me you're not that foolish.

MJP said...

Merely a comment on your advice to 'submit to authority'. Sounds great when you're trying to stifle something trivial that you disagree with but doesn't exactly work out in real life, does it?

CFHusband said...

MJP, I can tell you, without a doubt, that submitting to authority does work in the real world, but, again, you can't base your argument (that it doesn't work) on a comparison of apples and oranges and be considered a reasonable person to discuss this topic with.

There is a HUGE difference between what this post is talking about (21 year old college students rebelling against the authority they agreed to submit to) and what you're talking about (a minority standing up against a corrupt authority for their fundamental rights as human beings).

You said it example is seemingly trivial, and the other is not...but, that doesn't mean you can throw the baby out with the bath water.

And, why would you say that the example of the students rebelling against authority isn't "real life"? My guess is, it will be very real life and very untrivial to them (and their parents) when they get kicked out of school for making such a stupid and foolish decision. Again, the issue isn't about drinking alcohol (and whether or not we believe that to be wrong or right).

Rick Lawrenson said...

Standing up against a corrupt tyranny and for justice is a good thing. Especially when, as in the founding of our nation, those certain inalienable rights endowed by the Creator are taken away.

But as has been stated previously, that's apples and oranges with the situation posted here. No comparison.

And submission to authortity is real life. Whether its a speed limit sign (which you agree to obey when you get your driving license)or an employer (whom you agree to serve when you take the job). You'll be living under someone's authority your entire life.

MJP said...

I apologize - I guess I wasn't clear enough. Look, I I'm not commenting on what you have to say about the protest any longer. Both have made it clear your reasons for agreeing with the policy (CFHusband in a more salty manner) and I'm not trying to convince you otherwise. I understand your views. Enough with the protest. So let me spell this out again:

I'm not trying to compare the civil rights to protesting beer.

What I am saying is that it is unfair for you to say that submitting to authority is a lesson that all young people need to learn. There are times when rebelling against authority brings about positive change - and our very country was founded by the very people that believed that principle. While it certainly makes a person more agreeable to blindly submit, it is not always ethical or moral, for reasons we've just discussed. I have a feeling you'll agree with this - shouldn't we be teaching young people to always stand up for their ethics and morals? Isn't that why we Christians stand up against issues like abortion, even though our country says it's legal and right?

That's all I'm trying to get at here. I don't think it's fair to make a blanket statement saying that everyone should simply submit to authority, and after your comments I'm not sure that either of you were actually trying to say that. Stop me if I'm wrong.

CFHusband said...

I do believe that it is perfectly fair to say that submitting to authority is a lesson that everyone should learn...the younger the better.

That lesson, however, while related, is not the same as the lesson to take a stand against corrupt authority when injustice is taking place. Both are foundational for those who wish to live their lives like Christ, but, as any authentic leader will tell you, you've got to learn to be a good follower before you can learn to be a good leader.

I don't think anyone was making any blanket statements here, although it appears that I thought you were and you thought I was.

Rick Lawrenson said...

Here's what the blog said: "This post isn't about whether or not I or anyone else agrees with the policy. What I think about the policy doesn't matter. It's not my school. What it is about is being an adult, which is more than a birthday."

Again, the issue is not the policy. The issue is not tyranny or whether or not a government should be obeyed. The issue is: if I come to your school and of my own free and voluntary will state that I will obey the policy then morals and ethics demand that I do so.

It's pretty simple. It's not about whether the policy is fair. It's about agreeing to something then saying you don't like it.

Why is that so hard to comprehend without twisting it to resemble something else?

MJP said...

Ugh... forget it.

Rick Lawrenson said...

I sense another blog post about the Christian value of submission to authority...

Both Jesus and Peter had some interesting things to say.

In the mean time IF you have a comment about the meaning of maturity and adulthood, please share it. (That's what this post is about.)

Megan and Company said...

Submission. Such a challenging issue for us Christians. (Or at least THIS one.) Just ask my parents. Or any police officer that has ever caught me speeding. Or my school teachers. Or my husband. ;)

As I look back over my "long" 33 years ;), the root of so many of my issues has been submission. As I've grown into a Christian adult and have had the opportunity to work alongside many adults in ministry, I see I'm not alone.

I watched this issue being fleshed out in our church recently as our leadership is making bold moves to stimulate spiritual growth in our body. At a church meeting there was a particularly sticky issue being hashed out when finally one rather young voice of reason stood up and drew the line.

Paraphrased version: "It isn't about the 'issue X' we are discussing, it is about submission. We spent years praying for the right leader to come to our church. God brought him to us and now when he (and the other pastor/leaders) are leading us on a Godward path "we" buck the leadership because we don't like the way 'it feels'. Either we submit the authority of our leader(s) and pray God continues to direct them to lead us OR we take time to examine whether we are in the right church for our needs."

The drinking issue isn't "the issue". It could just as easily be a policy about dress code, student relationships or what is served in the cafeteria every Friday. The bottom line, in this instance, the school leadership has a policy on student drinking. The issue is submission. The drinking rule is not disguised or cloaked under a veil of ambiguity. It is quite clear and every registering student agrees to it. So, submit willingly to the authority or move on.

MJP: You are right on one point, every rule may not be 'fair' or 'correct'. That isn't the point and it matters little here. What matters is as a student at the school you agree NOT to drink. Period. So, it isn't a hard choice. Register, pay your tuition and submit to the authority OR decline your admission offer and seek out a school that better fits your idea of reasonable standards.

And, I'm glad you see that challenging leadership when there is a moral wrong (oppression, abuse, injustice) is a FAR cry from challenging leadership that states you can't belly up to the bar.

Kim said...

I tell my students (9 & 10 year olds) that they must obey me unless my decision is illegal (against man's laws) or immoral (against God's laws - for those unchurched - just not right in your gut) or they will face consequences.

I also tell them that, at an appropriate time, they can speak to me privately about how they feel about my decisions. I give them plenty of latitude in how they communicate the depth of their feelings and have been known to modify or completely change my decisions. I have also been known to stand firm.

Why do I believe it is so important for my students to obey me? I discuss with them that they must learn to submit to authority and obey when the consequences for disobedience are relatively light. In light of things, recess detention or a parent conference is not that big a deal.

If children don't learn to obey when the stakes are low, they will have a difficult time obeying employers and the laws of the land when the repercussions can ruin their lives.

Is submission to authority one of the most important lessons we can learn in life - for our own good?


Missy said...

Oh Boy! FINALLY! A blog I can weigh in on with some authority! lol

I am a Nate/Tricia follower, a 35 year old mom that has CF, a resident of Indiana, was married in 1993 at Meridian St. Church of God out of Anderson, Indiana and spent many weekends visiting friends whose parents were paying the $22,000 price tag to attend Anderson University. I have been all over that campus.

It is an expensive private college relative to plenty of other educational options in Indiana. (IU, Purdue, Ball State, ISU, Vincennes, Butler)

To set the stage, AU is in a small town, and not much of a 'community college.' Meaning, the majority of students are transplants that are from other cities. They CHOSE to attend that school and pay one of the highest tuitions in the state. They CHOSE to move to the middle of nowhere, live on campus, and BY BECOMING A STUDENT OF THE UNIVERSITY THEY AGREE TO ABIDE BY UNIVERSITY RULES.

I don't care if the rule is to wear a burlap robe on Fridays....if it's a PRIVATE school they can have rules that all students adhere to. It's called FREEDOM OF RELIGION and they have a right to establish a university that provides an environment to ALL students that is in line with said religion.

Quite frankly, if they don't agree with the RELIGION, then by all means---- $ave yourselves, for the same money you could rent a fab condo in Indy, go to Butler University (a private college without religion), and go get trashed every weekend in Broad Ripple.

They claim they are adults...then by all means...make some adult choices. Quit trying to violate the university policy of a school funded by the Church of God religion. The Church of God does not embrace the consumption of alcohol. Appreciate that the world, gasp!, does not just revolve around you. my soap box.

Barb said...

For what it's worth, AU is just one of many Christian colleges with similar policies. Three of my kids attended such a college, THEIR choice. Frankly, to them, the "rules" were a breath of fresh air after attending public school for 13 yrs. They were fed up with that "real world."

But not to get off the point ... absolutely ... Rick's point of authority is absolutely on.