College is widely perceived as a place where students transition into adulthood. Principia students hold diverse views about whether or not the environment here promotes enough independence and freedom for that growth.
Sophomore Pierson Gill feels as though he is treated fairly and the rules are equitable at Principia. He said, “I’m given complete responsibility for everything I do. I feel respected and treated as an adult by [all my teachers].” He added, “I think the rules are set in place for a good reason, and there are reasonable consequences to deal with if they’re broken.”
Sophomore Sam Soetarman said, “I think what they rules are trying to accomplish isn’t to restrict us from feeling like adults, but more so to create a positive Christian Science community. I think at times they can be a little restrictive, but overall I don’t think it’s coming from that approach of trying to keep us under control as less capable adults.”
Others disagree. “Some rules are putting a damper on our growth into adulthood,” said sophomore Otis Heimer.
Junior Harmony Nash believes that many adults at Principia interact face-to-face with students as equals. “A lot of RCs and professors understand that we are adults and respect that,” said junior Harmony Nash. On the other hand, Nash believes that the college’s rules do not allow students to express and grow into adulthood. “House hours [are] the first things that come to mind. I understand that the institution has a history and a foundation they’re trying to support… but [house hours] are not respectful of our adulthood.”
Students were polled on Prin’s Crägslist with the following questions: “Do you feel as though most of the people (including students, faculty, and administration) respect your adulthood and treat you accordingly?” and “Do you feel as though the rules set in place here at Principia respect your adulthood and treat you accordingly?” In response to these questions, 47 students answered “Yes, others respect my adulthood, but the rules do not,” and eight students answered “Yes, I feel both respect my adulthood.” Only one student answered “I feel that neither respect my adulthood,” and no students answered “No, others do not respect my adulthood but the rules do.” The poll, while not conducted in a way that it can bee seen as representative of the student body as a whole, shows that 84 percent of the students who participated in it felt as though some of the rules at Prin do not respect their adulthood, but that 98 percent felt respected by non-students on campus.
Ferguson House RC Dan Schneider was happy that many students felt respected by other people, but said “The rules appeal to the lowest common denominator. It’s not really a discussion of whether you’re an adult or not, just like [real-life] laws appeal to the lowest common denominator of adults who commit crimes… for everybody else who doesn’t think like that, they don’t need those laws.”
“I think the rules are similar at Principia, where they’re really there to prevent certain people from doing things that they shouldn’t be doing. For the others, the rules support the choices that people would already make, rather than restrict them,” Schneider added.
Schneider also shared how the staff-student relationship works from his point of view as an RC. “I see my relationship to the students essentially as a friend who has more life experience, and who can help them think through things on a bigger scale. [It’s] not [just] an adult-child relationship, but [an interaction with] a collection of adults with various experiences I learn a lot from the students. But ultimately as a staff member I still have certain duties to the institution to uphold certain things.”
House hours were something that Nash, along with other students, thought of when asked about ways in which they felt patronized. Schneider also recognized house hours as a common cause of dissatisfaction. “[It’s] definitely [a rule] that people want to push back against, because the implication is that it’s just something that prevents people from having sex. [However,] it seems like every time people [have] the reasoning behind house hours [explained to them] they tend to want to keep it,” he said.
Some people object to the rules because they feel that so many restrictions prevent growth. But others believe that the rules may encourage adult behavior in those that need help. While Nash was in the former camp, she acknowledged, “A lot of students don’t treat themselves as adults, so I think that’s what creates a lot of the problems in that regard. Some people just think of themselves as children and therefore are treated as children.”
Schneider said, “Everyone is given an equal opportunity to act like an adult, and when adult-like characteristics deteriorate more and more, support is given to help people act like an adult. We want students to act like adults, and will help them to get to that point… but we love it when they are and when they do.”
Sophomore James Skinner hypothesised on why there may be differing senses of adulthood at Prin. He said, “I think it depends on who you are and how you act. It depends on the situation you are coming into Principia from. Your [view] on [your] treatment here may also depend on your responsibilities here. Are you playing an active role in the community? All of these [factors] play a role in whether you feel treated accordingly here.”