The “Nanny State” in College

In 1978, I was a high school senior looking at colleges.  Although I was a member of a conservative evangelical Christian church, I turned down a chance to go to a college associated with my church.

The reason?  During a meeting with campus representatives, I read the student code of conduct.  Among the rules was one that female students were not allowed to wear sun dresses with straps less than two inches wide. In disbelief, I asked the student representative and resident assistant who was there answering questions, “How do they enforce this? Do they *measure* them?”  He said yes.

Then and there, I decided that I would pass on attending this school.   I had no desire to dress immodestly.   I had spent much of my childhood watching what alcohol abuse did to my parents: alcohol and drug abuse held no attraction.   I wanted to be part of a community of fellow believers.   However, I also had no desire to be treated by my college as an irresponsible teenager.  So I picked a non-affiliated liberal arts college (Reed College in Portland, Oregon, if you’re interested) instead, and a few months later left home and my childhood behind and began my adult life.

Today I read in an article that a similar liberal arts college, Wesleyan University, has added some new rules to its 2011/2012 Academic Year Student Handbook.  Among them are provisions forbidding participation in any organizations not recognized by the school, even if those are off-campus, make no use of Wesleyan facilities and are not supported by student fees.  :/  I didn’t believe the blog that reported this at first, and so went to the Wesleyan web site and read it for myself.

The rules are outrageous.   I applied for an early decision at Reed, and had already been accepted for enrollment by February 1979.  If Reed had announced similar restrictions in their student handbook in 1979, however, I would have withdrawn my application and gone to a different school.  I can’t imagine that today’s liberal arts students will find an academic nanny state any more acceptable that I would have.

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