Columnists > Mailbag

College Forum--Part IV

The mail keeps coming

Issue: "Peretti on publishing," Oct. 25, 1997

**red_square** Relativism at U. C.-Davis--My husband and I and my sister-in-law graduated from the University of California at Davis and all three of us had very difficult experiences in the residence halls there. My husband and I graduated in 1994, and his sister graduated three years later in 1997. All of us lived in the dorms at some point and my sister-in-law was a Resident Advisor for a year and a half. My husband and I had liberal arts majors and we found most of the classes to be unchallenging, liberal, relativistic and full of fuzzy-headed thinking. More noticeable than any of the negatives in our instruction, however, was the absence of independent thought and critical thinking. My husband had quite a few discussions with professors, but for the most part his alternative, conservative beliefs were ignored. It was not, however, the leftist bent in the classroom that was the most disturbing part of our college experience. Parents need to know that relativism, carried to its practical end in college residential dorms, is downright dangerous. Resident Advisors (students hired to keep order in the dorms) are selected according to their ability to "promote diversity" and not according to their skill at enforcing the rules. My husband had to leave his dorm room almost every Friday and Saturday nights to avoid the wild beer parties thrown by his roommates. He would return to his room often to find a drunken stranger passed out in his bed. Rules against alcohol in the dorms for 18-year-olds or to keep boys out of girls bathrooms were secondary to rules about not putting up Christian Christmas materials that may offend someone of a different background. In my dorm, freshmen students openly moved their boyfriends and girlfriends into their dorm rooms, where they lived free of charge. (With the taxpayers and parents picking up the bill.) This was not seen as a major problem, unless a roommate complained, even though parents were told that it was against the rules when they were considering paying for their children to stay in the dorms. During my sister-in-law's term as an RA, the voters were presented with Proposition 209. 209 was the proposition that outlawed race based preferences, specifically affirmative action, in California. The dorm authorities told the RAs that as RAs they should vote against 209. The housing authorities actually brought in anti-209 speakers to lobby students in the dorms. No opposing opinion was allowed. In essence, they used taxpayer resources to lobby against the initiative that a majority of voters and parents of those students approved. My sister-in-law protested formally up to the highest level of the housing department, but was not heard. It is clear to the three of us, having both lived and worked in the residential dorms at Davis, that the authorities have a conscious and concerted agenda to mold the thinking of students coming into the dorms. They know the students are young and easily convinced, and that they come mainly from traditional backgrounds. It is nothing short of social engineering. God used our time at Davis to teach us many hard lessons. I am happy to say we came out the other side more conservative and strong in our Christian faith. Our views were clarified and purified as if by fire. Even though I strongly believe that grounded Christians need to be lights in secular Universities and I know that God calls students to do so every year, I do know that parents need to realize the all too real dangers especially in ungodly dorms. My sister-in-law is a good example of a student missionary who was never threatened mentally or spiritually by the worldly philosophy at the University, but she has an emotional scar that is directly attributable to those bankrupt philosophies.--Name withheld by request **red_square** Grove City tops!--My daughter and I recently completed a 13 month long college search I thought might be instructive for others. The result of the search is that she is now a freshman at Grove City College in Pennsylvania. Her profile: A top level student with SAT of 1480, recipient of National Merit Scholar commendation, NHS, School honor society, very high GPA at a Christian high school in Metro Atlanta (where the GPA actually had integrity), Received scores of '4' on AP Calc, English exams, etc., etc. etc. Target Profile: Her focus and motivation for college were very clear (desiring a major in Molecular Biology - wants to chase viruses.) Our (her's and mine) vision of the ideal college were the same A college that......... (not necessarily in this order) 1) Has extremely high academic levels. Not in the PR that all Christian colleges seem to put out, but as measured by a) Student body that is highly selective b) Faculty that is distinguished, challenging, committed, and TEACHING c) A grading system that does not reflect grade inflation d) Respect given by employers of serious note. e) Quality of visiting lecturers 2) Commitment to a pro-evangelical, pro-western civ., pro-free enterprise, worldview where a serious Bio major could study free of the straight-jacket of Darwinian ideology ( A number of allegedly evangelical colleges fell off the list at this point). We wanted to see this demonstrated in deed as well as PR. We wanted a school that, while pro-evangelical, would also have a broader student body - including conservative Catholics and Protestant "Mainliners" 3) Financial integrity, as measured by........ a) Equity in dealing with tuition charges by avoiding 'cross subsidies'. We preferred not to patronize a college, if we could help it, that charges some people more in order to charge others less - especially when distributing financial aid (read discounts as in car dealers) according gov't guidelines (Federal Fin. Aid Forms) b) Avoiding compromise of the college's mission and management through entanglements in Federal Regs. due to accepting taxpayer's involuntary support c) Making sure that students come, stay, and leave with a purpose, proactively monitored by a REAL career and guidance office Our 'short list' included 7 or 8 schools, most of them mentioned earlier in your letters column. What we found at Grove City College was.... 1) A freshman class with a class SAT average of 1275 (without dropping out anyone as the Ivy's do), where one of every six freshman was first or second in their high school class. 2) A faculty that teaches and advises in person 3) A tough academic curriculum that can humble the best of the best 4) A graduating senior class in '97 that had earned enough respect from outsiders to receive more contract job offers from Arthur Anderson, proportionately, than any undergraduate school in the country. 5) Visiting lecturers that include the likes of.... Philip Johnson Michael Medved Armstrong Williams Peter Marshall Michael Horowitz Ed Meese Gary Bauer 6) Manditory 3 year core western civ courses 7) A comprehensive fee of under $11 K, with the school making very clear that NO family was being charged to subsidize another family. Built into this price is a new Compaq notebook computer with an inkjet printer that the student keeps at graduation. 8) Refusal to take federal 'aid', allowing the college to teach and manage itself without the compromises that come with accepting the forced 'contributions' of others. Thus, the school practices what it teaches in the Economics Dept. 9) A Career and counseling office that models it program on Larry Burkett's 'Career Pathways' seminar. The school considers it a failure to have a student go through 4 years of college work without having a clear, and reasonable, idea of what to do with his or her degree after graduation. Students are pushed to make a firm career choice by late sophomore or early junior year, with a well planned job search ready, going into the senior year. Most college 'career' offices at evangelical schools are a very bad joke - not at GCC. This school may not be for everyone, but for the top level student interested in a truly high quality, low cost education in a friendly environment, it's tough to beat.--Warren Hill / Stone Mtn, Georgia **red_square** Three cheers... to Marvin Olasky et al. at WORLD magazine for thoroughly addressing the challenges and difficulties encountered by Christian students on the contemporary American college campus. One of the many interesting letters found in the College Forum section of your website encouraged WORLD to create a "guide" to Christian colleges analogous to those published by secular magazines for the secular universities. As you know, tens of thousands of parents today are choosing to homeschool their children in the K-12 grades. An option available to college-bound students which is often overlooked is distance learning. Due to advances in communication including the internet, many colleges, both Christian and secular, offer baccalaureate and post-graduate degree programs in many fields of study through distance learning. Although written from a secular viewpoint, a good resource to begin learning more about distance learning is Bear's Guide to Earning College Degrees Nontraditionally, currently in its 12th edition (this otherwise informative book, however, contains only limited information on Christian schools). For increasing numbers of students, distance learning is becoming a viable alternative to the more traditional view that a college education can only be acquired by prolonged separation from family, friends, and church home to attend four or more years of college at a faraway campus.--Steven A. Costello 230 Almond Drive Lake Jackson, Texas 77566-5119 (409) 238-9352 (409) 238-3848 fax **red_square** Campus life tough--At this present time my daughter is now attending a Christian college. She chose to go because she knew that she wasn't spiritually strong. Young people who are Christians when placed in a nurturing environment are able to overcome the struggles in their lives and be able to be a productive member of our society. The time and money spent on the college is worth all the struggles thy have because of not being able to relate what they have been taught at home is a positive influence. Also the students themselves are able to relate on a more even playing field. Sometime the students need a chance to spend time with other Christians to develop into a stronger Christians. There are also other ways to get a college **red_square** Finding Christ in a Spartan environment--I found Jesus Christ through the evangelistic efforts of a Christian student at Michigan State University. Certainly the majority of my professors (especially those in the liberal arts and humanities) were hostile to Christian morality, beliefs, and practices. Rather than view this as a negative, I saw this as an opportunity to search for the fundamental flaws in their arguments and positions. I discovered that the vast majority of my professors, while not agreeing with my viewpoints, were not at all opposed to my demonstrating independent, critical thinking. Of course, to do this well required more study and work on my part. However, it was an excellent motivation for grappling with issues and in the process to develop a Christian mind. It also helped me to develop apolegetic tools and abilities that were later helpful in evangelism. I was greatly aided by my involvement in a Christian group (now called "University Christian Outreach") on campus. Essentially I lived in a Christian sub-culture within the university. My roomates (and later my wife) were all committed Christians. We grappled with issues together and helped one another live a Christian life as students. Over the past 25 years my wife and I have continued to be involved, in various capacities, with University Christian Outreach. Currently my two daughters are involved as students. My observation over many years is that committed Christians attending secular universities can not only survive, but even thrive, if they choose to become part of a strong Christian environment (e.g. friends, roommates). In addition, Christian students at secular universities have a unique opportunity to witness to their generation. But for the witness of a Christian student at a secular university 27 years ago, it's very unlikely that my entire family would be committed Christians today.--Paul Dinolfo, Senior Coordinator, Work of Christ Community, East Lansing, Michigan **red_square** Central Bible College, Mo.-- I would just like to put in about two cents worth for Central Bible College in Springfield, Missouri. I am a student in the Biblical Languages program, husband, father of three kids, over 30, veteran, disciple of Jesus Christ. If God has called you to preach the gospel, to be a missionary, to work in His kingdom, you might consider CBC. We have a top notch faculty, daily chapel, lots of encouragement, and opportunities to be active in service here and now. The Bible is the primary text book. Every class opens with prayer. The Holy Spirit is welcome to have His say. It's not for everyone. The school's motto is "for training ministers and missionaries." But, there is a fairly wide range of majors within that field (music, children's ministry, teaching, etc.). It is an Assemblies of God school, so there is emphasis on the "pentecostal distinctives." (By the way, denominational membership is not required.) The classes are not dumbed down. If you want to contact the college, the e-mail address is Reinstein ( **red_square** Bartlesville Wesleyan--I've attended Bartlesville Wesleyan College, a very small private liberal arts Christian college in Northeast Oklahoma, for four years now. Next May I'll graduate with a degree in English education. I'm exceptionally happy with the professors on campus. They''ve expanded my mind and taught me how to think, both as a student and as a Christian. They've taught me to question what I believe not to disprove it, but rather to make my faith stronger. That's the major difference I see between a secular institution and a good Christian institution. The faith I came out with is stronger than that with which I started because caring professors showed me how to think independantly, not to mindlessly repeat Wesleyan (a branch of the Methodist church) doctrine. Even the religion division professors (every student is required to take three religion courses) told me it was O.K. to question my beliefs because it brought me to a new plane of understanding. Unfortunately, BWC has some major problems, namely in the administration. The administration appears to more interested in making money for the school than in the well-being of the students. For example, one of the members of the administration regularly makes trips to our secular sister college in Japan to recruit students. In making these trips, he has neglected to tell these Japanese students that BWC is a Christian institution. That's a pretty important factor for most of these Hindu students in choosing a college to learn English. What's notable is that many of these Japanese students come from very rich families that give large sums to the school each year. The same adminstrator also makes regular trips to Nepal to recruit students. One of the students, who was very poor, came to school here, spending his family's entire life savings, on the knowledge that he would receive a full scholarship in computer programming. First, BWC does not have a computer programming major. Second, the scholarship funds were not available to this student, leaving him stranded in America. Needless to say, this student left with a distaste for BWC and for Christianity. --Darrin R. Hetrick **red_square** LeTourneau University--Dave and Lou Ann Medin of Medin Soil Testing & Plumbing Design write: This note is in response to a letter written by Claude and Madeline Hargrove in the World College Forum Section of your magazine. They stated their son would like to go to a Christian University with a major in Engineering. Please let them know that they have a fine Christian University in Longview, Texas called LeTourneau University. We have two boys going to LeTourneau University. Our oldest is a junior in engineering and our second son is majoring in business. Each class starts with either prayer or a devotional. Chapel is required. The professors take time with the students and are always available to them (even on weekends). The professors lead a Christian life by being an example to the students.We are very pleased with LeTourneau University. Check out this school. I think it will speak for itself. E-MAIL ADDRESS: **red_square** I'm just curious. How does the theme of this article by Mr. Olasky impact or otherwise affect the CCCU insofar as its membership criteria? If these factors are presented to prospective students as playing a significant role in discerning those colleges with valid biblically-based educational models, shouldn't the CCCU question its essential membership qualifications? The article posits genuine Christian higher education as radically different from its secular counterpart as well as distinctive from its secularized "Christian" counterparts. Two of the cited hallmarks (according to this article) for the definitive Christian college are (or ought to be) a model of human origins based on direct creation and a comprehensive integration of the infallible Scriptures into all curricula. While Cedarville is creationist and maintains that Biblical inerrancy is fundamental to our beliefs and teaching methodology, a number of other CCCU colleges hold a variety of positions. Some may even fall into the range of the alarming illustrations in the article written by Marvin Olasky as cited by Mr. Don Hoyt of T.E.A.M. If the article is proposing that only certain types of "Christian" colleges reflect true Biblical integration, shouldn't the CCCU question its own membership criteria?--Stuart Zaharek, Associate Director of Admissions, Cedarville College **red_square** Western Baptist--I am currently a junior from Western Baptist College in Salem, OR. I transferred from a community college in Eastern Oregon this fall. My experience at Western has far exceeded my expectations. When I began at WBC I wasn't fully aware of how Christ-centered this college really is. I praise God daily for blessing me with godly friends, professors, and staff. Coming in from another college, I am fully aware of how rare these schools are. Some of my best memories at Western have been: Chapel--which is three days a week, when people [come] from all over to share the word of God. In addition Western has awesome musical talent hidden in many students who lead worship. Social Life--Western is equipped with a great team of leaders that put together all sorts of activities, like beach parties, harvest parties, roller skating nights, bowling nights, movie nights, and various other functions that take place around Salem and on campus. Education--the quality of the professor at WBC is exceptional. These professors not only lead all sorts of classes with a continual focus on God, but also exemplify what a Christian is in their personal lives. I am truly happy with the education and experiences I have received at Western Baptist College.--Jessica C. Keough / Salem, OR **red_square** Western Baptist; We don't even know each other, honest!--My Theology Professor (Who happens to be the president of our college) mentioned in class the other day that you were writing an article on Christian colleges and would like some first hand information about different schools. I go to Western Baptist College in Salem, Or. I couldn't have asked for a better school. Not only do we have great professors and the major that I wanted, but we also get sound Biblical teaching. I do understand, thought that there are many colleges that claim to be Christian (or Christian based, at least) that probably also have pretty sound teaching. But Western is different. Our school doesn't only teach the truth, we live it also. Every class we offer is steeped in Biblical studies. I am an English major and I haven't taken a class yet that we haven't looked to the Bible for our truths. It is an amazing thing. I have friends that go to other Christian schools, that do not require a statement of faith from each student, and the atmosphere is just not the same. Anyone that visits our campus can see it. We had to apply for accreditation again last year and the panel said that they had never been to a campus like ours. And the panel was made up of people from mainly secular universities. Western is unlike any place in the world. You cannot walk anywhere without someone sincerely smiling and asking how you are. It doesn't matter if they know you or not. That's just the way we are. I tend to take it for granted. I graduate this year and am looking for graduate schools. It is strange to think about going anywhere but Western. No place could ever compare.--Jana DeBacker **red_square** Cold in Minnesota? I'm passing on to you an experience that my niece has had (and still is having) at a "Christian" college. The place is Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota--it is a Lutheran college. My niece is an 18 year old freshman at the college. She is a born-again believer in Christ who cherishes her personal relationship with God and who reads her Bible every day. When she received her schedule for her first semester at Gustavus, she was overjoyed to see that one of her classes was "Bible". However, her joy rapidly turned to dismay shortly after the class began. Even though the class is taught by an ordained Lutheran minister, it might as well be taught by an atheist. The class is being presented from a purely secular point of view, with textbooks and lecture material which continually challenge the authenticity and authorship of the scriptures. Early on in the class, they discussed the earliest books of the Old Testament form a "higher criticism" point of view - the text book claims that there was no way that Moses was the author of the first five books, or that Isaiah was the author of his book, etc., and it (the textbook) also claimed that the books of the Bible were probably written hundreds of years after the events they reported and that a great deal of what was written was probably taken from other cultures. No consideration is given for the inspiration of the Holy Spirit through the authors. Essentially, the class is treating the Bible as if it is nothing more than a bunch of fairy tales. This is the contribution of a "Christian" college to the spiritual upbringing of young Christians. The devil himself would be hard pressed to do a better job of trampling on God's Word. --

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