Where Merit Matters

More than affordable, more than accessible, Christian higher education needs to be reliable.

Friday, January 14, 2005

What Harvard Bans

In 2003 when Harvard University dispensed fourteen research assistants to help comedian and liberal radio talk show host Al Franken collect information for his new book attacking conservatives, I thought to myself, "Students at Harvard must have a lot of free time on their hands." This week the Boston Globe validated my theory when it published an article entitled "Harvard Hires 'Fun' Czar to Spice Up Student Life."

According to the article, a twenty-three year old Harvard alumnus has been appointed to be "the go-to guy for students who have ideas about social events but don't have the time or knowledge to navigate the school bureaucracy and bring them to fruition." What are his qualifications? The article explains that "as an undergraduate, he helped organize numerous social events and put together a Web site . . . aimed at protecting students' 'right to party.'"

There's just one problem. Students at the country's oldest college are clearly not having any trouble exercising this "right." In fact, alcoholism is a huge problem on the Cambridge, Massachusetts campus. The Boston Globe story cites the following disturbing example: "at a party to celebrate the annual Harvard-Yale football game in November, some two dozen fans were taken to hospital and treated for alcohol-related health problems . . ."

Also in November, the Yale Daily News reported that "due to rampant underage drinking, Harvard authorities have banned Nalgene bottles on campus for fear they will be filled with alcoholic beverages."

In December, in an editorial for The Harvard Crimson, a current Harvard student, referred to her school as the "boozing capital" and proudly declared that "as a sophomore of the legal drinking age of 20, [she] wholly endorse[s] spending as many nights intoxicated . . . as possible."

All of this should come as no surprise to university officials. Ironically, in 2001 Harvard's School of Public Health published a report on alcohol use among American college students and reported that 49% of college males and 41% of college females referred to themselves as binge drinkers.

Yet instead of taking action and banning alcohol completely from its campus, school authorities are now encouraging more parties and thus making alcohol more accessible to students. Still, the Harvard community is completely comfortable banning some things. Remember the Nalgene bottles? More importantly, since 1969 the school has banned one potential source of order and personal discipline from its campus - the U.S. military. ROTC students (those who have opted for God and country over Bartles and James) are segregated from the rest of the student body and are forced to train at the nearby MIT campus.

In the end, it all comes down to values. It's sad when a college like Harvard doesn't do more to help students say no to drugs and alcohol, but I guess that a place that treats Al Franken like a serious academic authority is not too interested in attracting a bunch of tea-totaling teenagers.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

A New Year's Eve Tradition

For two consecutive years now, after the clock passes midnight on December 31st, I have listened to one of my favorite audio files that I have stored on my computer. It's the recording that Dr. Bob Jones Jr. made on May 24, 1977 for Bob Jones University's 50th anniversary time capsule. Of course, the time capsule was opened in 2002, and the message was played during one of the evening sessions of that year's Bible Conference. Although I was living in Greenville at the time, I was working in the evenings for Southern Wesleyan University and was unable to attend the service that night. Yet I quickly downloaded the file from Sermonaudio.com and have listened to it countless times ever since.I guess that I like to hear Dr. Bob in the early hours of New Year's Day for a couple of different reasons. First of all, listening to him always reminds me of an important point in my life - a time when I was a freshman, sitting in the FMA and wondering what to think of BJU. More importantly though, his words in this particular message seem to be especially appropriate for closing a year of our past and commencing a year of our future. Some of Dr. Bob's very first words are, "Time is passing. One of the certainties of life is that we cannot last forever. And as we move on in time, it's well to recollect that we're in God's hands - that He's not only the God of today, He'll be the God of your day too when you hear this."For some reason, it seems like every time I listen to this specific message, something new always jumps out at me, even though I'm now well on my way to having the entire thing memorized. Today, the first morning of 2005, is no different. The following paragraph seems to echo with significance, and I feel compelled to rewind the file and listen to the statement over and over again: "Many new schools have started up in these recent years, but they're not like Bob Jones University. They say they want to be, but they want to leave out something. Either they leave out the discipline and the regulations, or they leave out the cultural atmosphere of the university and put in cheap, sorry music that's so characteristic of this day."

(Here's a link to Dr. Bob Jr.'s message.) http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=670294022