Campus Conversations Club: We need to talk

The Campus Conversations Club seeks to facilitate student dialogue about university policies and provide a mechanism for students to suggest changes.

By Brad Crofford, Editor-in-chief

University policies can be controversial. From drinking to dancing to the end of semester move-out, there are plenty of topics for students to discuss.

There are two main responses I have heard when students mention aspects of the lifestyle covenant or handbook that they disagree with.

The first response is that perhaps there is something to a need for change. For example, it used to be taboo for Nazarenes to go to movie theaters, but it no longer is. Perhaps it is time to consider other areas as well, they suggest.

The second response is that one need not discuss these issues. “They will never change, so why talk about them?” this view says. In addition, the student chose to come to SNU. They knew that there were rules restricting things like drinking and dancing, so they just need to live with them.

I find neither of these responses particularly helpful.

The problem of the first response is that it does not provide sufficient weight to the university’s relationship with the Church of the Nazarene. From historical ties to financial support to positions on the university’s board of trustees, the links are many and strong.

Suggestions then must be tempered both by the university’s Christian identity and its Nazarene ties.

At the same time, this can stifle important dialogue.

We can recognize that there are limitations on dancing, but this should not prevent us from dialoguing about it. We can acknowledge and abide by the university’s policies on alcohol and still discuss why this is the university policy. We should be free to discuss about the university’s policies on gambling, sexuality, drinking, profanity, and more.

Attending this university should not be tantamount to a vow of silence about its policies, and blind obedience is not true faith but rather dogma.

We must also recognize our religious diversity. According to the 2012 SNU Factbook, less than half (45 percent) of the university’s current students are Nazarene. This is down significantly from 65 percent in 2003.

It is within this context of campus-wide student dialogue that I have co-founded the Campus Conversations Club (CCC) with Grace Williams. CCC’s goals are to:

•To facilitate dialogue amongst students about university policies contained in the Handbook.

•To increase student awareness of policies contained in the Handbook.

•To provide a mechanism for students to suggest changes to university policies.

•To help students grow through the consideration of issues important to the community.

As the Handbook states, “We hope all members of the SNU community will discuss and evaluate the University standards as part of the growth process that takes place at SNU.”

Welcome to the conversation.

What do you think?