This is a follow up on https://kindism.org/2014/11/18/new-policies-on-homosexuality-at-principia-college/ If anyone would like to share an extended piece about their thoughts about, or experiences with Principia’s policies (beyond a brief comment), please be in touch! I welcome guest posts!
The TL;DR version Gays can now openly attend Principia, and the Administration has shifted their focus to combat the very vague threat of sensuality. What does that mean? Equal opportunity oppression for all!
All students, faculty, and staff shall be perceived, welcomed, loved, and supported as spiritual ideas. They are expected to honor the community standards of moral and spiritual purity in relationships.
In terms of practices at Principia regarding admissions, community standards for living in the Principia community, and employment at Principia, we are directing the administration to establish consistent rules and regulations for students, faculty, and staff, regardless of sexual orientation. (emphasis mine)
So people who are gay can attend Principia. Alumni donors who were holding out because of draconian, repressive policies about homosexuality can now freely give with a somewhat clear conscious (the policies are still repressive and draconian, but now they theoretically apply to everyone more equally). Some people feel this is too little, too late, and that the Trustees should apologize for their past discriminatory actions, but as that seems unlikely to happen.
It seems unlikely Principia cares what I think — I’m no longer a Christian Scientist and I was never a major financial donor (I paid off my loans and was done contributing), but here are my thoughts on this mess.
Principia, you’re not serving the cause of anything but yourself. You are using Christian Science to oppress, repress, manipulate and thoroughly wreck hundreds of students lives. Christian Science does not need your help with this, it does a perfectly good job of that on it’s own, if anything you take the warped aspects of the religion to new and terrifying levels. I provide now a few excerpts from the Trustee-provided Question and Answer page:
- Principia continually encourages the members of the community to turn to our Pastor, the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, for a deeper and more spiritual understanding of all aspects of life, including love, identity, and relationships.
Those are the last books you should be turning to for relationship advice. The teachings of Science and Health are detrimental to healthy relationships, both with one’s self, and others. The idea that that turning to the material body for pleasure only results in pain, and that sex should be reserved for procreation only (and only when you’re married, if you really must), really fucks up people’s ideas about what should and shouldn’t be happening in a relationship. Instead of offering positive messages about sex and teaching about consent, anything remotely sexual (or “sensual” as Principia prefers to call it) is shamed, shunned, vilified, and Must Be Avoided.
- What is Principia doing to address sensuality?
Principia remains dedicated to removing the intrusion and distraction of sensuality within our community.
So we’ve moved from discriminating against homosexuality to “addressing” sensuality. Apparently it is a distracting intrusion. Just so we’re all clear on what the problem is, I’ve included a screen shot of what Google has defined sensuality as, it is worth noting sensuality was most popularly used in the early 1800s, my how far Prin has come.
What is wrong with sensuality? It distracts from one’s relationship with God, reminding them that they’re mortal, and that opens them to the Christian Science Trinity of Doom: Sin, Disease and Death.
- We will continue to focus on spirituality and true self-worth while maintaining our commitment to engage the community on issues such as pornography and sexual relations outside of marriage. We invite your support to lift thought to a higher view of God’s man.
“True self-worth” oh please. I knew many women (myself included) longing to feel “content” because we were lacking a boyfriend. We would read, and re-read the Chapter on Marriage, which has “wonderful thoughts” on how you must be “whole” before you enter into a relationship. How do you become whole? By aligning your thoughts more closely with God and immersing yourself in the Books. This becomes a self-perpetuating cycle, because you’re clearly never going to be whole enough, and you feel ashamed that you’re failing at it. You’re never going to ascend, you’re never going to align your thought closely enough with God, you will eventually fall prey to malicious animal magnetism, and the unholy trinity of doom. Christian Science is lousy at true self-worth.
If you choose to watch porn, please make sure it is ethically sourced (and if you’re in a relationship, don’t lie to your partner about it. If you don’t like porn, don’t watch it). Sexual relations out side of marriage? What does that matter to Principia? As an adult of legal consenting age, who I choose to have sex with, and when I chose to have sex with them is NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS.
Many of the problems with sex and relationships comes from a lack of open communication between partners, and to some extent, community support. Creating a culture where sex is shamed, feared, to even be discussed is unhealthy and damaging. The Defeating Dragons blog has many, many excellent posts about this, the Prin Trustees could learn a lot from it.
- How does this directive affect public displays of affection?
Every Principian is subject to Principia Policy 22’s requirement for good social conduct. Specific standards will be developed by the administration in order to provide consistent rules and regulations.
I looked up Policy 22 on page 236 of Education at Principia, on p. 236 it states
All activities taking place on the campus or within the school or college community, whether they occur as part of the organized work or as extracurricular phases of the school or college life, shall be permitted to exist only to the extent they are consistent with the purpose and policies of The Principia.
Maybe I got the wrong policy, or maybe the Trustees just pulled something out of Ed at Prin. It is worth noting Policy 22 is also cited on an old admissions check-list stating
A student may be considered for suspension for any behavior deemed “loose social conduct”(Policy 22 of Purpose and Policies of The Principia, pp. 227–236, in Education at The Principia). A pattern of disregard for lesser school rules could also result in disciplinary suspension.
Policy 22 is nice and vague. It can be read just about any way the Office of Student Life, or the Board of Trustees wants. It can apply to just about every situation, and I’m fairly sure I wasn’t even aware of what the policy was until I looked it up, which leaves me wondering if the average Principia student has any idea of what they’ve really signed up for — my guess is probably not.
- We expect all public actions to be considerate of others. The expectation of pure, genuine, and respectful displays of affection will apply equally to all community members. (emphasis mine)
What exactly qualifies as “pure, genuine, and respectful displays of affection”? Who decides? At the college, they are adults of legal consenting age, who cares if they choose to hold hands or kiss in the Concourse? What business is it of anyone’s other than their own? Really, at the end of the day, WHO CARES!?
Clearly someone at Principia cares, someone narrow minded and puritanical, someone who wants to police thoughts to make sure they’re pure and their motives are right. After all, it only takes a little bit of malicious animal magnetism (as unreal as it may be) to ruin everything. All it takes is a single thought out of line with God and everything is ruined. Error will simply overwhelm and they’ll fall victim to the Christian Science Trinity of Doom: Sin, Disease and Death.
And now I have a few questions for the Trustees, and I’m sure I’ll have more when they release more Q&A sheets:
- Why does Principia feel the need to concern itself with the personal lives of students? — I understand there are legal issues with underage boarders at the Upper School, so some involvement is necessary (I have other problems with this), but at the College?
- Why does Principia feel the need to know a student’s sexual orientation?
- How is someone’s sexual orientation determined?
- Why does any of this matter to the Principia? Why are they so hung up on sex?
- What is Principia afraid of?
Principia has decided to stop discriminating against homosexuals, and while they should be applauded for that, I strongly suspect they will arbitrarily enforce these policies, causing heartache and misery for dozens of students.
I have heard the argument that people choose to attend Principia. They choose to pay upwards of $37k a year for their educations. No one has to remain at Principia, there are many, many other colleges out there, most of which have more progressive policies. On one hand, Principia’s policies are draconian and oppressive, on the other, you can choose not to attend.
- This argument is lovely, but it ignores naive high school students who really do think they can abide by the Principia Code of Conduct (or think it won’t actually be as restrictive as it is). People also attend Principia because their parents/grandparents/relatives went, because it is the only Christian Science college in the world, and to some people (see naive high schooler comment) that makes a difference.
- No one has to remain at Principia, is a similarly lovely argument, during my time there we were on a quarter system (that was later changed over to semesters after I left), most schools are on the semester system, so transferring credits was a nightmare. I know several people who spent far longer than 4-6 years in college because they needed to make up extra credits that never transferred properly from Prin. I also know people who never got their transcripts properly forwarded to their new colleges/universities which made transferring credits rather difficult. Prin also refused to release the transcripts of at least one person because they were “behind” on their student debt — being enrolled as a student elsewhere would’ve enabled them to put off payment of loans.
It may be too late for those of us who did attend and were hurt by those policies, and I hope that Principia continues to strive to do better, because let’s face it, they have a long way to go.
At the college they may “all be adults” but they’re also “adults” who have chosen to live by a highly regulated set of “moral” guidelines — and they can be “requested” to leave if they fail to abide by them. The vague, open-ended nature of the Questions and Answers leaves me wondering if instead of granting homosexual students rights, instead they are going to simply oppress all students further.
Congratulations Prin, you’ve joined the 21st century and are allowing homosexuals the right to be just as oppressed as everyone else at Prin. Now can you alter your fundamentally flawed stance on medicine? Or would that not serve the Cause?