By Sophie Hills
The initial results of a poll of college staff and faculty about developing the pilot admission plan to accept non-Christian Scientist students were surprisingly homogenous and, perhaps, more conservative than expected by many, said interim president John Williams at today’s virtual employee town hall.
The strawman survey was sent to college staff and faculty last Friday, April 17 with questions about respondents’ views of Principia as a Christian Science institution. Among other questions and prompts, respondents reacted to statements about the premise that Principia is founded on Christian Science tenets and were asked to compose their own premise and “target market” statement.
There were 112 total respondents, and most responded to each question. The raw data from the survey was sent out to college staff and faculty earlier this week – and there were very few responses against a policy that allows some students who don’t identify as Christian Scientists.
“One thing that’s exciting is the diversity,” said Williams, “the other thing that is maybe not exciting is that there isn’t as much diversity as I was expecting…. The strawman sort of hit the middle, based on all the conversations and other research,” said Williams.
An Upper School colleague, said Williams, summed up the results as more “conservative” than expected.
“My response was, ‘that’s because you’re not paying attention to us,’ ” said Williams.
Williams used this to illustrate that in the controversy surrounding the issue of admitting non-Christian Science students to both campuses, some stereotype the college as so progressive it “might just go out and blow the doors off of the school.”
Williams said he hasn’t yet spoken to anyone at the college who wants to do away with Christian Science as the basis of how Principia functions, but added, “how we do it, how we talk about it, how we see it in students, how we relate to students, who those students are – those are all open.”
He characterized the survey – that will be sent to students with possible adjustments – as “a part of a discussion rather than a decision … to begin the conversation in some very concrete ways.”