After 150 years, Wheaton College has decided to change their rules and permit dancing. This may strike you as non-news, particularly if you did not go to Wheaton, or to Asbury.
Well, call me old fashioned, but I’m … well … old fashioned. Tradition is a valuable thing, even when you don’t understand it. Are the reasons for forbidding dancing less relevant now than they were for the last century? If anything, they have increased, not dimished, and if those reasons were considered valid for all that time, why do they think now that they know better than the previous 30 or 40 administrations?
I watch my alma mater, Asbury College, remove many of the rules that have been in place since 1890, many of these changes being made since my graduation in 1992, and I wonder if it is really progress. Is it actually desirable for them to “catch up” with the times, when the times are clearly so very unsavory.
And was it sensible of NPR to do a story on this, in which they basically poked fun at Wheaton for having standards, rather than lamenting the fact that they had given them up?
I’m sure that the students are pleased with this change, as I am equally sure that the Asbury students are pleased that they can now watch R rated movies on campus. But it seems to me that in the absense of understanding of traditions, a move to abolish them is ill-advised, at best, and damaging in many cases.
Sure, if you went to a state University, or pretty much any educational institution that doesn’t *claim* to stand for anything, these are really not relevant issues for you, and you probably don’t see why it even matters. But organizations that claim to stand for something should actually stand for something, and be unashamed, and unwavering about it. If folks outside that tradition don’t understand why these things matter, well, that’s because they are outside that tradition, and their opinion is largely unimportant in that regard.
So, do I think that dancing should be permitted as Asbury College? Well, I refuse to answer that question, on the grounds that 113 years of Asbury College administrators have seen fit to say that it should not, and I would not presume to imply that my opinion should carry more weight than theirs. And I’m quite disappointed at Wheaton, and at Asbury, for overturning traditions in order to appease the very people who are unwilling to take the time to understand those traditions. And I’m disappointed with NPR for lacking the journalistic integrity to investigate those traditions, and rather to be content with poking fun at them.