BJU Publishes 2013-14 Student Handbook, Highlights Include Changes to Church Attendance, Music Policies

Bob Jones University has published its new Student Handbook for the upcoming school year, changing and updating a number of policies. A few are detailed below. Click here to download a .pdf of the new yearbook; BJU scrubs previous years from its website once  new yearbooks are published.

(Pg. 51) This section on counseling is brand new, and seems to be in response to the University’s image problem regarding sexual abuse. Note that although counseling is offered, no mention is made of any counselors outside of BJU’s influence, nor of any licensed therapists. The “counselor” mentioned here in relation to abuse victims is unidentified, and no mention of abuse reporting made.

1016801_10151718575940428_2077129133_n(Pg. 48) BJU here reiterates the non-dissent policy it added to the handbook last year (we covered it here). Clearly, BJU intends to continue expulsion and intimidation of student dissent as an official policy. What’s interesting here is the wide-ranging nature of the prohibition: “any attempt” at “disparaging” the school will be met, not just with disciplinary action, but with expulsion. The job of determining what constitutes “disparaging” is, one assumes, left to the Dean of Students.

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(Pg. 30) BJU lays out its position on students’ use of social media. The school is clearly trying to head off more controversies, cracking down on anything not “positive”, and requiring that students make complaints through official venues rather than expressing any kind of dissatisfaction publicly. Also addressed specifically are “videos taken on campus”, probably due to a small dustup that took place last year over a video of students dancing to “Gangnam Style” the “Harlem Shake” in front of the men’s dorms.

Screen Shot 2013-07-01 at 9.59.26 PM(Pg. 19) Changes to the school’s church attendance policy can be seen here.  BJU now requires an invasive system of self-reporting to track student church attendance since Sunday morning campus service no longer exists.

(Pg. 46) This section is not new, but clearly shows BJU’s intent to control every aspect of student life. Students are made aware the the school can search any personal item, at any time, for any reason or no reason. There is no section in the BJU handbook on the legal rights of students.

The Music section in this BJU handbook is the first in recent memory to not specifically mention “CCM” specifically as forbidden continues the school’s recent trend of not mentioning CCM specifically. Although the music that fits under that term is still certainly not allowed at the school, it’s no coincidence that the school chose to omit it. The general tone of the Music section also continues its recent gradual shift toward a more diplomatic tone, including using the word “subjective”, and referencing a “range of music acceptability”. How this change filters down into student life is less clear. Headphones are still forbidden, because of “accountability”.

7962_10151718583670428_1802573918_n(Pg. 63) In a mostly new section, BJU spells out its position on sexuality, both for student conduct and in general. The statement appears to be in response to recent changes in United States law concerning same-sex marriage; the note that it was written by the BJU Board of Trustees highlights its importance.

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37 thoughts on “BJU Publishes 2013-14 Student Handbook, Highlights Include Changes to Church Attendance, Music Policies

  1. Clara English

    “Biological sex”, eh? So what about someone who is genetically XY (male), but has female genitalia, such as in testicular feminization? (Jamie Lee Curtis is rumored/famed to have this condition). Which one is her “biological sex”? What about those who are born with what is termed “ambiguous genitalia” – can’t tell either way? When you start to study medicine, you realize fairly soon that gender is not as cut and dried as we’d like to think it is.

  2. tmountjr

    Those legal rights are a joke and likely wouldn’t stand in court if challenged. An institution cannot locally revoke the fourth and fifth amendments, nor can a student just sign them away by consenting to a handbook. The school has absolutely no right to search and seize electronic devices because they suspect something violates the handbook. Even if what they suspect is illegal (like child pornography) they *still* don’t have a right to go searching on their own; that’s a matter for authorities. And even in the case of illegal material, the courts are still undecided on whether or not a person can be compelled to reveal their password to locked and/or encrypted computers. Also, the courts have consistently ruled that it is not illegal to record activities where there is no reasonably expectation of privacy.

    The truth of the matter is, students CAN decline to have their computers or personal devices searched; that is the equivalent of pleading the fifth. They CAN record any meeting open to the public; that’s a first amendment matter. Students need to know their rights and assert them appropriately.

    1. gonorthgeorgia

      they can search if you give them permission and you are giving permission by registering for classes and pledging to follow the rules.
      now FERPA is an argument that you can use. I can’t imagine they can or even are able to have you sign away your rights under FERPA.

    2. formerfundy1992

      In the State of South Carolina, the law is explicit that anyone MAY record any conversation/meeting without the permission or knowledge of the other party AND it CAN be used in a court of law.

      I have a sneaking suspicion Bob Jones’ rulebook does not supersede the laws and statutes of the State and federal governments. Ever. In any way. EVER!

    3. Dan Keller

      Absolutely correct! The only entity I know of in the USA where you sign your rights away like that are the armed forces.

    4. farkus

      All of that is true, you can refuse the search, but likewise BJU can refuse to allow you to continue on at their school.

      1. Dan Keller

        That is a fallacy. They cannot make you give up your rights. They can refuse you admission, but cannot expel you for that.

      2. farkus

        I don’t know, they can expel you. You may be right Dan, but I think it would be a case of them expelling you and then you’d have to fight it in court. That may or may not be worth it. Either way, I think in the immediate if you refused you’d just be expelled questions to be asked later.

  3. 1988grad

    Two parts really strike me as being way out there, big changes from the 80’s. The requirement to report on church attendance seems really strange. Do they issue each student a sheet of poster board and a box of gold stars at the beginning of each semester? We were simply “encouraged” to attend Sunday evening church and it was understood that you might miss if you had a big week of assignments coming up.
    The whole may communicate with the student’s pastor on any situation involving the student is really strange. When I was a 21 year old student I could not have imagined Tony Miller telling me he was going to tell my preacher. Strange.
    Any while I’m on my rant, what is the big push for being involved in a “local church” that is not in your hometown when the school year is only 28 weeks long? Seriously, do they really think that you can be involved in a meaningful way when you are only around for 14 week semesters? When I was a student, I had a local church that I was involved in as much as I could. I didn’t consider any church in Greenville my “local church”.

    1. 1911man

      Yeah, the “local church” thing is tortured and inconsistent with the historic practices of the Joneses themselves. The Joneses regularly maintained their membership out of the G’ville area. That was probably a relief to the local preachers. Having Bob III as a member of a local church would unnerve a preacher who depended on BJU for tithes and members; one doesn’t disagree with Bob III and remain his friend for long.

      1. formerfundy1992

        You have hit the nail on the head. You can go through this rulebook and see that so much of what is written, the Jones don’t follow…. they are above the rules. They always have been.

    2. Dan Keller

      I think it’s about helping the local churches staff nurseries and Sunday schools.

  4. 1984graduate

    If I’m not mistaken, the reporting of church attendance is not new at all. Also, it is all done online. In the past, a student may have been away for the weekend with family or on extension, so the student did not necessarily attend a service on campus. There are other mandatory items reported online in this way – for instance freshman orientation requirements are reported online. Also, concerning the Sunday evening reporting, a certain number of weeks of not attending are/were allowed, so a student could easily recover from illness, get extra sleep, study, etc when needed. The number of absences allowed for evening services, at least in the past, is more than you might imagine. One issue was that you couldn’t go off campus (to eat, etc) on Sunday unless you were going/had gone to church – you were allowed to stop while off campus. If I’m not mistaken, allowed absences from Sunday morning are much fewer, and this is consistent with the former policy of not exempting Sunday morning attendance when the service was on campus. I have a son/daughter in attendance now. Last year s/he met me four hours away from school for a weekend visit. We were unable to attend a Sunday morning service due to other commitments that day. S/he reported the lack of attendance properly online (by clicking/checking the option “did not attend”). Nothing happened to her one way or another. No demerits, etc. I have found in his/her experience that honesty has been rewarded more than I remember in the past. Just a tad more grace. Even so , this is something of a leap for them compared to my experience there.

    Concerning rights and search and seizure of electronic devices – perhaps a student could refuse a search by law enforcement, but if a student attends a private school and signs an agreement that they have read the handbook and will abide by the rules, etc, I believe this is something of a consent issue at this point. In my state, it is illegal for Costco employees to require me to show them my cart and my receipt. HOWEVER, Costco is a PRIVATE club, and should I refuse to comply and refuse to submit to letting them examine my receipt and cart, then they, too have an option – they can revoke my membership.

    I am concerned about the idea that a local pastor could share with the university. Pastoral privilege should be respected, I feel as though this will inhibit the student from speaking to a pastoral figure (or at least it should). Sometimes a listening ear and advice prompts an individual to action, one way or another. That choice is removed when you know a pastor is going to rat you out.

    1. Dan Keller

      Well, that sounds logical, but it’s not the law, and, BJU cannot put themselves above any state or federal law. No one can go through your personal property without your express permission. And, Costco checking your items before you leave the store isn’t the same thing. BJU could come up with a form for students to sign giving them blanket permission, but, merely matriculating there as a student does not give them rights the state or federal government grants to citizens.

  5. 1988grade

    The last printed page of the handbook is a Covenant that you sign and turn in affirming that you have read and will follow the rules in the handbook. I know we can say “they can’t do that” but I also know that when I was a student, I signed a similar covenant that said they could.

    I read through the handbook last night and for all the talk of things being different, they are remarkably the same. In many cases, the rules are even more invasive now than when I was a student. I was especially intrigued by the rule against watching sports broadcasts on your television or computer. What in the world are you supposed to do during the World Series and the Final Four? Back in my day we had radios and one year I was a reluctant Cincinnati Reds listener because I had a roommate who was a huge fan. I guess today, he’d have to do without his baseball.

    Senior Privileges based purely on longevity are going and probably have been for a while. I don’t think I would have qualified for “advanced privileges” my second senior year!

  6. Keith

    In other words, we want to control you all 7 days a week. Need to take a Sunday off to sleep or hit the books extra hard? No! Off to church you must go!

    I was in a social setting where there were both BJU students and Furman students. The BJU students asked the Furman students about their fields of study and other programs. The Furman students only wanted to ask the BJU students about the rules they had to abide by. That is what BJU is known for outside its walls—rules and more rules.

  7. CurrentStudent

    Good article. Word on the street was that headphones would be allowed this year – sorry to see that is not the case.
    One minor point: the video that caused the “small dustup” was of the Harlem Shake, not Gangnam Style.

  8. Lawrence Burr

    So Greenville churches are going to have to provide Sunday School classes and space for all of the BJU students. I’m sure most students don’t tithe much. Quite a burden.

  9. Mike

    BJU is condemned if they do and condemned if they don’t. For years people have criticized the school for not requiring church attendance, and now they are condemned because they do. I went to BJU to get away from what I knew I would have to contend with in a state college. When I entered BJU in 1972, it was like heaven on earth to be in a place where you could participate in everything they had to offer with a clear conscience. Too bad about the kind of heart we see in people today that don’t appreciate a place that tries its best to maintain a godly atmosphere. Is it perfect? Not hardly. But I believe they make an honest effort.

    1. 1911man

      Mike, I graduated from BJU in 1980. Like you, I enjoyed my time (1977 to 1980) at BJU immensely.

      You stated:

      “Too bad about the kind of heart we see in people today that don’t appreciate a place that tries its best to maintain a godly atmosphere.”

      Wow. Who are you to judge peoples’ heart attitudes, Mike? Or, have you been programmed, as many of us were, to instinctively dismiss any criticism of BJU by questioning the motives, heart attitudes, or standing with God of anyone who dared to point the Nathanic finger at the Joneses or BJU. I recall Bob Jones Sr. once said, “You want to know where a man stands with God? You have but to ask him one question, ‘What does he think about this school?'” This idolatrous attitude toward everything Jones was passed down from BJU’s Founder, to Bob Jr., to Bob III, to the administrators, faculty, staff, and students – including me. Might be time to check your own heart attitudes, Mike, to see if any idols have taken root. If you have criticisms of BJU’s critics, voice those criticisms in a forthright manner using facts and logic to argue your position within the constraints of ethical debate.

      Regarding the atmosphere at BJU, yes, the women are modestly dressed and the men clean-shaven and well-groomed. The grounds were immaculately manicured and the buildings were clean. (More on the atmosphere later.)

      You stated: “Is it perfect? Not hardly. But I believe they make an honest effort.”

      Yours is a clever sleight of hand. There is only One Man with the Divine Authority to demand perfection from others. Who among us has demanded perfection from BJU, Mike? Or, was it simply your intention to summarily sweep BJU’s ‘imperfections’ under the rug in an effort to ignore their innumerable imperfections altogether?

      Any honest, objective, informed, and discerning person familiar with the doings of the Joneses and the history of BJU would have to disagree with your parting shot:

      “…I believe they make an honest effort.” Do you mean BJU has honestly tried, like a basketball player does when he tries to make a free throw in an honest attempt to win a basketball game. The player may “miss the mark” but, for instance, he wasn’t (dishonestly) trying to miss the basket in an effort to “make the point spread” for his Las Vegas bookie, thus, hit or miss, his was “an honest effort”.

      Certainly you don’t mean to say that BJU has been honest in their dealings with their students, faculty, staff, graduates, religious associates, etc., etc. But, just in case you have, let me say that nothing could be further from the truth. One need not look too hard to see that BJU’s past is fraught with all sorts of deceit, deception, duplicity, and double-dealing with the truth and in the lives of others.

      I see little evidence they have a very high regard for honesty unless it serves their purposes. I’ve watched BJU, Bob Jr. and Bob III operate for some 40 years. In fact, I became alert to Jones III’s low regard for facts when he acted as if he did not know the facts of a certain situation when, indeed, he had been provided the truth.

      I became aware of the duplicity of Bob Jones III in 1991. I ran across Charles Underwood’s 1973 (or so) Open Letter to Bob Jones III (Google is your friend, Mike) and found that others had caught the Joneses in repeated lies and double-dealing with the truth and in the lives of good men. In what areas did they get caught lying? Masonry, hiring practices, separation, other men’s ministries, the teaching and prosecution of the interracial dating ban as a Biblical principle, the pursuit of accreditation for BJU, etc., etc. Hey, Mike, they have been lying about the accreditation issue since I was there in 1977 and probably even before you went to BJU in 1970!!!

      If you want to know how dishonest Bob Jones III can be, study Bob III’s handling of the interracial dating ban, the firing of Steve Keyes and Wayne Golson the Monday after their church, Southside Baptist, granted membership to an interracial couple. Canvass the newspaper reports regarding Bob III’s statements about the IRS case and the interracial dating ban being scripturally based and that BJU would never change it’s biblical conviction against interracial dating. Compare Bob III’s earlier actions and statements to a transcript of his denials in Bob Jones III’s Larry King Live interview. Ol’ Bob III denied BJU had ever tried to base their interracial dating ban on Scripture!!! Bob Jones III got caught on national television lying about his and BJU’s prosecution of the interracial dating ban, simple as that. Is this your idea of “an honest effort,” Mike? If so, would you please explain?

      If you can’t Google each of these subjects and find the dishonesty which BJU has practiced in that area, get back to me and I’ll send you some links.

      The atmosphere that seems to have pervaded BJU has a strong scent of leaven. In fact, it is reminiscent of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.

      1. MSK

        It’s funny how tiny people with tiny minds and weak spines will give thumbs down to a post without making any comment.

        They can’t argue the facts or the logic, but they don’t like what is said (perhaps because their idols of wood and stone are being exposed?), so they give thumbs down.

        What valiant Warriors of the Faith ™.

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