Monday, March 28, 2016
What would we find out about Lutheran colleges and universities?
I am not sure what we might find if the same kind of study were done of Lutheran colleges and universities but I am pretty confident that most ELCA schools would embrace the full allowance of same and opposite sex visits at most any time of the night or all night. Some allow and even screen to provide same sex and opposite sex partners to allow them to be roommates. I would expect that Valpo would fall on the open side of visitation policies. Where Missouri schools stand on this is not certain but well worth a look. I would not want to predict the results but it is my hope that the colleges and universities of the LCMS have retained at least in policy a semblance of integrity with what our churches believe and teach. That said, it is undoubtedly difficult on some aspects of recruitment when so many secular schools have abandoned all restrictions whatsoever. But then again many times the parents of those attending have given up any attempt at rules for what happens at home.
On weekends, 95 percent of Catholic colleges permit at least a portion of the students (usually non-freshmen when specified) to visit with members of the opposite sex in dorm rooms for at least some part of the night. It’s the norm in American higher education, but it’s an extraordinary social shift for Catholic colleges that still retain the language of moral formation and Catholic campus living.
Other results of the study may be surprising. More than a quarter of residential Catholic colleges—54 nationwide—permit all-night opposite-sex visits on weekends, and only five of these regulate visiting hours during the week. Whether intended or not, that’s an open invitation to sexual activity. The colleges enabling this include some of the largest and most notable Catholic colleges, such as Boston College, DePaul University, Georgetown University, Loyola University Chicago, Loyola University New Orleans, Santa Clara University, St. Joseph’s University, University of Dayton, University of San Francisco and Villanova University. But it’s surprising to see how many smaller Catholic colleges have also abandoned dorm policies that were universally embraced just a few decades ago.
Even at the more than two-thirds of Catholic colleges that impose deadlines for opposite-sex visits to dorm rooms, their policies generally fail to satisfy Catholic sensibilities. Nearly half (91) of Catholic colleges permit opposite-sex visitation until 2 a.m., well into the night. Another 11 colleges allow visitation until 3 and even 4 a.m., inviting the question, “Why even bother?” These include Creighton University, DeSales University, Fordham University, St. John’s University (N.Y.), St. Louis University and the University of Scranton, as well as smaller institutions.
At the University of San Francisco, there is no pretense of promoting chastity in its dorm policies. In addition to having open visitation hours, USF now also offers some students the option to have an opposite-sex roommate. The program for “gender inclusive housing” welcomes students who identify as “transgender,” do not identify as any sex or simply “respect people with the above identities” and “prefer to live” in a gender-inclusive “community.” Students share bathrooms with members of both sexes. And community standards include respecting “gender as a non-binary construct,” openness to developing one’s own sexual orientation and using “preferred names and gender pronouns.”
Catholic Edgewood College in Wisconsin unabashedly condones promiscuity with 24-hour “Weekend Opposite Sex/Intimate Partner Visitation Hours.” The College declares that dorm visits can be for “opposite sex and same-sex intimate partners.” Curiously, while the College permits fornication on the weekend, it states that “intimate partner guests are prohibited overnight during the weekday.”
Edgewood is, of course, an extreme case—and we approached this study assuming that even when Catholic colleges implicitly condone sexual activity by inviting opposite-sex visitation in bedrooms, those colleges would have rules on the books forbidding premarital relations. Sadly, we were wrong. We examined student handbooks and residence life policies, finding that only about one-third of the colleges explicitly prohibit sexual relations on campus. Most of these cite the institution’s Catholic identity or reference Catholic teaching reserving sex for marriage as the reason for the rule.
Not all the findings in our report are bad. For instance, even among Catholic colleges that offer opposite-sex visiting hours, there are some that set deadlines at more reasonable hours. Donnelly College admirably ends weekend visitation at 10 p.m., and ten other colleges allow it until midnight. The Franciscan University of Steubenville has visiting hours only from 7 p.m. until 11 p.m. on weekends, from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. on Sundays, and doors must stay open.
Weeknight visitation hours are also more reasonable at 84 Catholic colleges (44 percent), which end visitation at or before midnight. But still, a quarter of Catholic colleges end visitation after midnight during the week, and 26 percent have no time parameters at all.
Some Catholic colleges that allow opposite-sex visitation have open-door and open-bolt rules that help discourage sexual activity. Franciscan University of Steubenville and Ave Maria University require that, during opposite-sex visitation, bedroom doors must remain open. St. Gregory’s University and the University of Dallas require that the bolts of bedroom doors must be placed in the open position to keep them ajar. St. Martin’s University requires open doors during the final couple hours of visitation.
Most impressive are the nine Catholic colleges that have retained traditional Catholic mores; i.e., there is no opposite-sex visitation in student residences, save occasional open-house events in some cases. Most of these institutions will be familiar to Crisis readers: Aquinas College (Tenn.), Christendom College, Divine Word College, Holy Apostles College and Seminary, John Paul the Great Catholic University, Northeast Catholic College, Thomas Aquinas College, Thomas More College of Liberal Arts and Wyoming Catholic College. These colleges demonstrate that a culture that promotes chastity can be achieved with appropriate dorm polices as well as educational efforts.