College Week: Watchful Watchers Who Watch

If you’re a person who does not enjoy having your every move scrutinized, analyzed, and documented a fundamentalist college campus is not the place for you.

Not only does Fundy U have an army of deans, deans assistants, residence managers, and dorm monitors, they also see to it that each room has its very own prayer leader or assistant leader. The most important five minutes of your entire college year is the moment when you first meet your room leader and find out how “cool” they are — in other words how likely they are to report you to the powers that be for any small infraction.

Educational buildings on campus are assigned floor monitors and chaperons as well to make sure that boys and girls aren’t dilly dallying around the stairwells or passing notes in the computer labs. Chaps will also patrol the outside walkways looking for girls who aren’t sitting modestly enough or guys with their shirts untucked. Secular colleges may have cameras to catch potential thieves and rapists, Fundy U uses them to catch any misguided fundy Lothario who seeks to steal a smooch by the snack machines.

Off-campus movements are monitored as well. There’s the sign-in and sign-out mechanisms, the list of approved locations you can visit, and the ever present army of college employees who are just walking around the mall aimlessly on a Saturday morning for no apparent reason other than spotting students out of dress code or talking to the opposite sex in (gasp) Sears.

If you still look around nervously after you walk out of the “Entrance” door at the supermarket and half-wonder if someone is going to jump out of the bushes and give you a demerit slip, you probably went to a fundamentalist college.

133 thoughts on “College Week: Watchful Watchers Who Watch”

  1. It’s true that the best strategy is to keep your mouth shut and go with the flow. Yeah, it might be a little bit hypocritical, but I knew that was where the Lord wanted me. The penny-ante stuff at Maranatha helped me to see the problems in all of Fundy Land.
    I would also agree that also helps to have a cool dorm supe. I had one who liked the Cathedrals almost as much as I did. I’m not such a big fan of Southern Gospel these days. I’m more into Chris Tomlin.

  2. @ Darrell you should be glad if they start banning your site. I bet it would lead to MORE hits.
    Everyone wants what they can’t have. And, all press is good press.

  3. @usedtobefundy…

    I’m not sure why your comment was directed at me. ??? While agree with you, I’ve already been through four years of fundy college and was simply telling a couple of tales about my time there.

    Also, in my fundy world, you didn’t choose which college you went to. You were told which college you were going to go to. There were only two approved colleges in all of the U.S.: HAC and Fairhaven. Thankfully, by the time I graduated from high school, my dad had seen the light about those places. I went to Ambassador which is still a fundy school, albeit less hardcore than HAC or Fairhaven.

  4. Yeah, that was confusing.

    For those who might also be confused, here is the quote I was responding to:

    “My parents want to send me to a bible college. I only have 5 choices btwn wcbc, gsbc, Pcc, CBC, and hac, which is the least super fundy?? Also any tricks on how to survive would be appreciated”

    Many fundy parents expect to make all major decisions for their college-aged children, some are willing to be reasonable.

    I pray the other Jess’ parents are able to be convinced.

  5. I remember being at HAC in the 90’s and we went on a group date to some restaurant. The bus took us all there and the lights were on in the bus to make sure that we were not holding hands with our girl friends. One of the chaperones walked up and down the middle aisle doing hand checks.

    Then while we were eating dinner, I noticed the bus driver outside (in the snow) walking around the perimiter of the building looking behind the bushes for couples who might have sneaked outside to make out in the snow behind the dumpster or something.

    All the pressure to not fornicate made it even more tempting. We would figure out ways of fondling each other in the strangest places and in the strangest circumstances just to beat the system. Sometimes we got away with stuff in the middle of chapel. Being stupid and making out in a dark room was a no brainer…the dark room was probably a set up. You had to be a lot sneakier than that! Some guys I knew met girls from work and got passes for 8 hour shifts, worked 6 and drove off with their newly found girlfriends to do their business somewhere private where no HAC staff would ever find them.

    The worst fornicating perverts are in Fundy Bible colleges. The ones who get through the four years of school there end up running off with their secretaries later, or worse yet a teen in their youth group when they get into the ministry.

    Fundy Bible colleges were the most dangerous places to stay pure. The legalism and prohibitions made your hormones go off the charts!

    If true doctrine and grace would have been taught, maybe the Holy Spirit would have restrained us better than the dorm snoops.

  6. I went to an evangelical Bible college (Moody Bible Institute), which had what I thought were fairly strict rules (at least in the 80s when I was there). We used to make fun of people who went to Word of Life for their crazy strictness. Then I met some people who went to BJU and PCC and told me about the demerits and the room checks and being told to spy on your friends. They made Moody look like MTV’s Daytona Spring Break Weekend. I can’t imagine willingly sending my kids there. Isn’t college where you’re supposed to learn to make some decisions for yourself?

  7. My brother attended HAC in the late 80’s. One of the things that Jack Hyles loved for some weird reason was Halloween. They encouraged the students to dress up and everything. My brother had 2 identical unicorn costumes with full head rubber mask. One for his girlfriend, and one for himself. She just put on the costume and walked right into his dorm room. No one ever knew.

  8. My parents told me they would pay for my college if I went to a school on their approved list. Because I went to a fundy church and school, I figured following the rules would be easy. Thankfully I was de-fundy’d by roommates and being in a pretty “liberal” major. I just got sick and tired of the legalism and rules by the time I was done. I still got saddled with student loans, but I haven’t had any trouble finding a job in my field. . . .

  9. To Jess (who is going to college):
    I went the heathen-land known as Liberty University for my junior and senior years.
    I highly recommend it.
    Normal people who love God and want to serve Him.
    The rules are pretty reasonable.
    And you can get an ACTUAL education! (imagine that)

  10. Jess: I went to a fundy college for 4.5 years because of pressure before finally ‘breaking free’ seven months ago by joining the military. My biggest regret is that I didn’t decide for myself sooner and am now stuck with a worthless degree and have to start my college from scratch. Think carefully whether this is something that will help you in the future. Sometimes the best decisionsa are the hardest.

  11. To the Jess who whose parents want to send him to a college of their choice:

    Have you considered not going? You won’t die. America is flooded with people who graduated from mediocre schools with cheap degrees for which they paid a fortune. Do you want to join this group.

    Ask yourself why you want to go to college. If you want to go to a Christian school, ask yourself what is Christian education. This question is seldom asked. Usually Christian education is the same as its secular counterpart but with chapel and Bible classes. Isn’t there anything more than this? What school offers it.

    There has been a lot said on this site about the unaccredited schools and the degrees they issue. “It’s a worthless degree” is usually the refrain. Consider what a degree is: a ticket past the doorkeeper. Once you are inside, you either perform or you are expelled. It doesn’t matter where you got your degree in what. (Look at the people who are running the country. They are mostly Ivy League and dumb as a box of bricks.) Accreditation has an interesting history; check into it.

    Do some serious thinking about these things. You will be making a major decision regardless of how you decide. You will have to live with the results. If you make a decision that angers your parents, can you live with that better that you can live with being able to contribute a short story to this site?

    I am not encouraging you to rebel against the wishes of your parents, but I am encouraging you to equip yourself with the information necessary to say, “Mom, Dad, let’s talk.” This is what education is about. You are 18; you should be mature enough to do this. Are they?

  12. PCC: an institution of such Divinely and practically inspired rigidity should be lauded for its effectiveness in shaping an acolyte to better follow the apparent procrustean tenets of the faith.

    As a ‘wayward’ lad who needed just as much progressive justification as progressive sanctification, PCC provided a safe bastion in which the freedom to ‘do right’ had no limit. Beginning with devotions upon a rulebook fashioned after a second revelation of Scripture, I developed a ‘healthy fear’ of committing such trespass as was outlined therein. Adherence to these guidelines would be used as a method of gauging one’s ‘spirituality,’ and I did not want to be ‘found wanting.’ An overbearing demerit count would be a public indicator of my true standing with God.

    The rules of the institution were crafted in such a way, I found my urges toward the sins of ingenuity quite handily dispelled. Speaking to women of the opposite sex without a chaperone, to my surprise, was on par with the sin of fornication, and I was glad to learn that it was quite firmly discouraged. Many useful ‘proof texts’ also ‘showed me the way’ when it came to such sins as using playing cards, being near movie theaters, wearing patch pocketed trousers, and owning (not just listening) to music with syncopated beats. Who knew that sort of thing was demonically-inspired? In fact, I was glad PCC illuminated the many elements of Creation which seemed to have instead originated from the pit of Hell itself.

    And of course, much can be said for the practical element of restriction. Mandatory hair checks felt to me like I was being judged at the Bema seat, and I passed such evaluations knowing that my inward righteousness was rightfully judged by my appearance. The mandatory ID checks at the girl’s dorms also kept me from flailing headlong into a potential sinful encounter or two or dozen. Thank the Lord for such abundance of fences that blocked my proclivity toward sin. If it weren’t for a fence of rules, then what else would keep me from transgression?

    /fishes for sarcasm tag before I get too far into this…

  13. @DJ too funny! I’ve had same nightmare like 3 or 4 times a year at least, every year since leaving PCC! I’m pretty sure its the only recurring nightmare I’ve had in a decade. I sometimes wake up sweating. Avoid those places at all cost if you in anyway can. They really do not only screw with your development as an adult, but make you very leery of meeting/accepting new people, cause you don’t know if you can trust them.

  14. I went to what you would call a “fundy” college. I didn’t feel stifled and I didn’t feel like people were walking around all the time trying to catch me doing something wrong. I didn’t go to PCC, but several of my students (I’m a youth pastor) go there and God has done a good work in their lives. I emerged from Bible college pure and usable. I emerged with my own set of personal standards and conviction. Thank God for every person and place that is helping young people do the right thing.

  15. @Jessica
    I have actually seriously considered going to liberty university. It’s just really expensive, well compared to “fundy” colleges.
    I want to go to a “bible college” to get my worship music degree to be either a worship leader or at least on a worship team. But my I also want to keep a good relationship with my parents and they don’t approve of any the places I want to go. So I plan on going to
    one of their colleges for at least a year to make em happy. But I want one that they approve of that has the least wierd rules( like different sidewalks for guys and girls I would consider that a weird rule) lol

  16. @Jess

    I’ve never been to any Fundy college (Praise the Lord!!!!!!), but I have friends and acquaintances who have gone to a few different ones. If I were you, and HAD to go to one for a year (I’d say a year is ok, at least you won’t waste 4 years there, and you’ll have plenty of stories to tell!), I’d choose WCBC. They don’t seem to be as super strict/watchful as other places, and I’d stay FAR, FAR, FAR away from HAC. Schaap is a pervert, and if you don’t believe me, watch some of his videos on youtube. He creeps me out. I’d never submit myself to anyone’s leadership that even resembled his… yuck!

    I’m sure someone here will be able to tell stories about WCBC, but I haven’t heard much weirdness out of that place. It seems pretty safe, to me. Plus you can always go for “Secretarial” there. That might help you out if you want a real life office job (though it’s mostly training for being a church secretary).

  17. oy vey

    My thoughts exactly!

    @Tyler Wow dude, can you say delusional? If you didn’t feel the watching etc, then whatever environment you grew up in prior to PCC should’ve had some kind of police investigation.

  18. @Tyler

    I emerged from Bible college pure and usable.

    Pureness and Usableness that is only exceeded by humbleness and humility…

    Perhaps you could share with the class some of those standards… inquiring minds would like to know.

  19. My great-uncle was an administrator or trustee and a professor at Baptist Bible College of Springfield, MO. He was probably responsible for the rules that the students of that college have to live under. I met him at a family reunion and he is a sweet 93 year old “man of gawd”. When given a chance, he will ask if you are saved. He will always out there soul-winning until his last dying day, I am sure.

  20. I’d like to know what the last movie @Tyler went to see. What I don’t wanna know is how @Tyler would handle a teen struggling w/ sexual identity/orientation issues. I assume “those types” don’t measure up to the “pure & usable” standard layed out in scripture somewhere.

  21. I got one more story for the day. Kind of PCC specific, sorry. There was a donut shop down the road from PCC (just past Shop & Save). Some of my friends decided to go there 1st thing on a Sat AM. Obv noone is going to be @ the Donut Shop @ 6AM, so they went in shorts & t shirts (totally “illegal”), and not signed out. 5 mins in, Dean of Men walks in in shorts & t shirt of his own, they actually acknowledge each other (were juniors by this time, and recognizable if not names he knew). Didn’t get demerits so we made it a practice to be there @ 6AM like every other week for a couple of months. Dean Ohman eventually found another donut shop we think. Noone ever got demerits for that somehow. Stuckey’s Donuts (not the chain) in Pensacola will always be the sweetest donuts in the world, cause they came w/ the sweet sweet taste of victory.

  22. @Jess
    WCBC is fine as long as you don’t try to be a student that is known for thinking different than them. If you go – go for only one year and don’t let them guilt you into any more. And whatever you do don’t think any independent thoughts until your one year Bible degree is tucked away in your back pack and the compound is in your rear view.

    You asked for it.

  23. I was so worried about the tattle-talers that I actually put on a motorcycle helmet INSIDE my boyfriend’s apartment and walked outside with it already on because I was so worried someone would turn me in for wearing jeans – but there was NO WAY I was going to wear a skirt or culottes on a motorcycle. (BTW, he was old enough to live off campus his last semester and I was in grad school, so I was allowed to visit his apartment he shared with some roomies. See? I’m still worried that someone would think I broke a rule!)

  24. I’m currently going to a bible college. Fundamental school, but KJV onlyism isn’t pushed on us but rather it is rightly frowned upon. There are obviously some strict rules that I don’t agree with. I do laugh when I hear stories from other schools though. I’m starting to see the difference between where I go and these other places. I think the staff actually cares. 194 demerits should have gotten me kicked out of school… but they said they’d give me another chance only if I wouldn’t get 100 demerits the next year. I got 104 last semester and ater talking to several people like my dorm supervisor, dean of men, and then the dean of students I was surprised when they said I can come back. They believe in me and I am thankful for that. Something I’m very grateful for from my school.

  25. @Jordan M. Poss and Darrell: Reading 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 while in high school was one of the best things I did to prepare for Bible college. *cough* Not so sure that Brave New World (much as I like that book) is as good a parallel to the fundy college experience. 😉

  26. On further thought I’d have to add The Giver to my previous list. The fact that they’re all dystopian novels featuring authoritarian governments should tell you something about the fundy world…

  27. ‘Pure and usable’?!

    Tyler, sweetheart, that makes you sound like a water-filter commercial. (And I’m trying desperately to think of a way to explain that that line is also likely to be read in quite a different way by the worldly, but I can’t think of how to do it without sullying your ‘purity’).

  28. HAC was in its first year the year I was ready for Bible college. I wanted to go because our pastor’s daughters, my friends, were going there. But my Dad, bless him, didn’t want to pony up for it, or so I thought at the time, and I went to the local Bible college (which later became GARBC accredited). The older girl had gone to my college the year before because HAC wasn’t open yet. I was disappointed about not going to HAC with my friends until the girls came home for the holidays. Yikes!! The older one in particular took it upon herself to coach me on how to dress, sit, stand, not cross my arms over my chest (because it drew attention to certain “attributes”). My family hit the road away from that church halfway through my freshman year for far, far better climes. But I have always been SO glad Dad didn’t want to send me to Pope Jack’s School (as he put it). I had good college years, and after reading these accounts, brother am I thankful for my college!!

  29. Gabriel wrote:
    “WCBC is fine as long as you don’t try to be a student that is known for thinking different than them. If you go – go for only one year and don’t let them guilt you into any more. And whatever you do don’t think any independent thoughts until your one year Bible degree is tucked away in your back pack and the compound is in your rear view. ”


    What Gabriel posted is true. You will have to agree with them, or at least let them think you do. They do try to pressure students into returning. Manipulative, shallow, and lots of rules.

    I hope you like to knock on the doors of complete strangers in very dangerous neighborhoods (Lancaster is a sex offender haven…check – Because you will be required to do so each week.

  30. Gabriel:

    WCBC states that if alumni change from their approved beliefs, they are supposed to send back their diplomas. This is stated at their graduation ceremonies.

    Have they sent you a postage paid envelope with their addy on it yet? LOL! 😉

    Crazy place West Coast Baptist College is.

  31. @ Jess,

    try making a deal with your parents.

    Say, I will apply to your schools, but please let me pick one of my own to apply to. I’ll make sure it’s a Christian school, etc, etc. Then, we can pray and ask God to guide the admissions and financial aid departments.
    The school that accepts you, and gives you the most financial aid, is the school you will attend–as this is obviously God’s will.

    This worked for me, though you may get stuck with a fundy school, unfortunately, I suppose. And it’s definitely not been too good for parent-child relationships, but I’m managing.

    otherwise, I’d say try WCBC, based on hearsay from old church friends.

  32. It is so *wrong* when parents try to coerce or manipulate their ADULT children into attending a college they should not be attending. For example, this happened to me, and I *SO MUCH WISH* I had gone to a university where I could have actually majored in something that I was interested in.

  33. @Amanda RE: A Brave New World

    The parallel that I saw there was the creating of clones who were dumbed down to a certain level of ‘usefulness and then given an education consisting of subconscious programming.

    Also the despair of the ‘savage’ who could not tolerate such a life rang true with me as well.

  34. I graduated from (a Middle States) Bible college in the 70s upon which BJU looked down. They were considered neo-evangelical by the fundies, but nevertheless had quite a few rules and regs. Some of them, like the one where you had to “witness” to one person per week, and the dress code, and the cessationist pov on the Spiritual gifts were quite fundy-leaning nevertheless. I survived by living above reproach for the first semester, and then did pretty much what I pleased and never got into trouble. Kids would come back from Christmas break and confess that they had been to a movie (usually a Disney or something else like it), and evidently there were students (according to the powers that were) who came back after graduation to confess that they had cheated on the witnessing reports. Rachel Saint was the only woman who was ever allowed to speak in chapel back in the day, and Jack Wyrtzen spoke once while I was there and asked the question: How do girls get pregnant in Bible college?

    The saddest thing I remember was the student who committed suicide by jumping out the window.

  35. @Jess and Luna

    The school that accepts you, and gives you the most financial aid, is the school you will attend–as this is obviously God’s will.

    Please, please do not participate in this Christian Witch-craft. If you follow this formula I can guarantee you will end up at Hyles Anderson. Yes by all means pray about where to go but don’t use this formula as some sort of fleece.

  36. @Jess (the one going to college)

    I think my biggest concern would be accreditation…especially if you really plan on transferring out. I know getting a “worship music” degree may make you think it doesn’t matter, but it will. I don’t mind the fact that I went to a fundy school nearly as much as I mind having a degree from a non-regionally accredited school. National accreditation is worthless and most of the schools you listed aren’t even that. Just know that if you plan on transferring and you go to PCC don’t count on any of those credits transferring. Good luck.

  37. I’m not a real fan of the fleece thing either. I can tell you w/o hesitation it’s not “God’s Will” for anyone to go to HAC as currently (or anytime previously) constituted.

  38. @usedtobefundy
    I am sure at some point the pre-paid postage envelope will come. But that will be a chance to send something interesting back to them. Something that says “even though this degree is virtually worthless, I paid for it, so NO! I won’t send it back.

    It is hilarious though. That because you might change your mind about things after you leave college (that never happens jk) they prefer to revoke your education. Of course most people who make big changes tend to mumble something unintelligible when asked about their college… lol

  39. There’s something like 30 states where you can’t get teacher certification if your degree is un- or nationally accredited only. You’ll find grad schools hit and miss, also. Really think about these things. You’re preparing for your future. Do you want to have to work a menial job the rest of your life because you made a bad college decision?

  40. I have no memory of it but my friends remember something being said at graduation about sending your diploma back if you ever came to disagree with the school. We actually discussed the possibly of doing just that as a form of symbolic protest, after we’d all received our MAs, that is. Of course, I disagreed with the school long before I ever walked across the stage on graduation day.

    @Darrell: I was thinking more in terms of the government’s promotion of sex and drugs when I said that, though you do have a point. The whole thing about using pleasure to control the masses does fit quite nicely. I was always the “savage,” both growing up and in Bible college. 🙂

  41. I have a PCC “watcher” story. My husband- then boyfriend, started Bible Conference Bingo. It appeared 3 years in a row during bible conference while we were there. This was before internet, so someone had to photocopy and pass out the contraband. One night coming home from church with a herd of girls filling the lobby of the girls’ dorm Ms Baer, Dean of Women (They didn’t think of us as women, why was her title Dean of Women?) was laying in wait for me and pulled me aside in the lobby. She pointedly asked me if I had heard of Bible Conference Bingo. I said yes, she then asked if I knew who started it. I was so mad. I knew the only reason she was asking me was because she already knew. He was already in trouble obviously and they were just hoping to bring someone else down. I was being tested to see if I loved my boyfriend more and I’d lie fore him or if I loved God more by narcing on him. That still makes me mad almost 20yrs later. Of course, she also timed her ambush just a few minutes after 7 when the phone lines are turned off between the guys and the girls dorms so I couldn’t call him.

  42. Thanks for the tip on Baptist College of Ministry. . I had a good time looking through their website (wasting time!). . .Loved the “college day” pics of the women in really long skirts and roller skates.

    Also, noted much of the staff is related. . .and they have a “staff evangelist” (I assume this is in case a student is getting off the straight and narrow?). They have a woman on staff there, teaching “home ministries”. . .Interesting stuff.

  43. @ Gabriel I could prob manage to pretend to agree as long as no one asked me directly what I thought, the prob with all the fundy colleges is they have too many dress code rules for the girls. I am more of a jeans t-shirt and tennis shoes type, wearing a skirt blouse and dress shoes every day would drive me insane. Lol
    @usedtobeafundy, I have been door knocking in those type of places since is was a teenager so it wouldn’t bother me….that much lol

  44. Jess, WCBC does require long skirts (culottes for some activities), pantyhose (temps often exceed 100 degrees), neckline restrictions, types of materials (nothing clingy), and they prohibit ladies from wearing pants. I remember one girl giving a testimony about how wearing skirts exclusively had changed her life…as if it were some big spiritual thing…LOL!

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