Our daughter, Rachel's, senior year is here at last. It's been a flurry of SAT Saturdays and scholarship application deadlines. Every day the mailbox is full of brochures and invitations from colleges as far away as Maine and Hawaii.
Some are from the big guys such as Yale and Duke. Others are from smaller regional gems like Davidson and Agnes Scott. One particularly persistent correspondent has been Shorter University.
Judging from the amount they've spent on printing and postage, nothing would make them happier than for Rachel to come spend a glorious autumn day strolling around their scenic Rome campus and seeing all their musical theatre program has to offer.
Rachel mused that she'd visited Shorter a couple of times in middle school for choral competitions and it was a lovely campus. It's also one of the few schools in Georgia to offer a BFA in musical theatre. All I can say is that it's a good thing she doesn't have her little heart set on becoming a member of the Shorter Hawk nation.
Shorter was all over the news recently when it was announced that it would be requiring the more than 200 employees to sign a "Personal Lifestyle Statement" rejecting "all sexual activity not in agreement with the Bible, including, but not limited to premarital sex, adultery and homosexuality."
They must agree to not use, sell, possess or produce illegal drugs; and to not drink alcoholic beverages in the presence of students or promote the use of alcohol.
I wonder if dancing and playing cards is covered in a subsection somewhere, too. If so, then that dancing prohibition is sure going to wreak havoc in the musical theatre department.
New hires would be required to sign the pledges as a condition of employment. Current employees would have to sign in order to have their contracts renewed.
Employees are expected to be Bible-believing Christians who affirm loyalty to the Southern Baptist Convention and are active members of a local church. So does that mean Methodists (or Lutherans or, well, you fill in the blank) need not apply? I know for sure Einstein couldn't have landed a job there. Neither could Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu.
Closer to home, if our devoutly Jewish Rachel went to school there, I suppose she wouldn't be eligible for a work-study position.
Let's look at this for a minute. Banning behavior is easy. Proving violations and doling out punishment, well, that's something entirely different. I imagine they'll have a long table for the president (let's put him in the center) and the board of trustees. Let's dress them in black robes and light the room with torches along the wall.
I've never seen President Donald Dowless, but in my imagination he looks remarkably like Tail Gunner Joe McCarthy. He has an assistant with the glittery reptilian eyes of Roy Cohn. Let the hearing begin:
President Dowless: "So, Professor X, it has been alleged that on Nov. 8 of this year you had a glass of wine with your dinner at the Applebees here in Rome. Is that correct?"
Professor X: "Er, yes sir it is. Let the record reflect that I am 42 years old and I only had one glass."
President Dowless: "And when you drank this glass of wine, is it not true there was a Shorter University student seated three booths over?"
It goes on like that for a couple of pages. Then they fire the professor and hire one of the trustees' nephews.
I suspect these precepts will be enforced selectively, if at all. The board is severely limiting the talent pool from which to select staff and faculty. Lack of fealty to the Southern Baptist Convention seems to be a mighty low bar to set for refusing to consider highly qualified teaching candidates. In a few years they'll need to chisel the "Fine" from above the door of the Fine Arts Department.
They're creating a witch hunt environment where professional jealousies and imbroglios can lead to allegations of lifestyle violations. Careers will be ruined based on nothing more than innuendo and rumor.
If Shorter wants to adopt a lifestyle pledge, might I suggest they look to the Book of Micah: "And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."
Or, hey, there's always the Golden Rule.
Teressa Glazer is a Gainesville businesswoman. Her column appears biweekly on Fridays and on gainesvilletimes.com.