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Urban Legends about Bob Jones Unversity

As high-profile as BJU tends to be, you are bound to hear some very unusual things. Here's a list of the rumors I've heard about BJU--and the facts behind them as far as I know.

I recommend you visit sometime: or at least take a look at a live webcam from front campus.

 

"There are pink and blue sidewalks: pink for the girls, and blue for the guys!"
Reality: No paint at all--BJU has normal sidewalks. I've done a bit of investigating of this one. I recently thought that the basis for this rumor was perhaps pink and blue markings on the sidewalks at a deaf camp frequented by BJU students who volunteer their time at that ministry. (Since many deaf persons can't read English, the color-coding ensured they know how to get back to their cabins at camp.) However, even that proved no leads.

I have no idea how this rumor started. The essence of this rumor is that guys and gals are required to walk on different sidewalks. That's not true. There are some pieces of sidewalk that are off-limits for one sex or the other, but that's due to geographic placement, not a social rule. For example, one sidewalk weaves around the guy's dorms--it's off-limits to girls.

"Men and women are seated at separate tables during meals."
Reality: This was true at one time in the past (10-15 years or more) when students were not allowed to date to breakfast. Side note on meals: before 1988, many meals (dinner every weekday, and the Sunday noon meal) were "family-style," meaning you were seated at an assigned table and served as if you were at a restaurant. In 1988 or so, there was a change to only one family-style meal a week: noon on Sunday. Now, due to financial issues, time restraints, and seating capacity, even the Sunday noon meal is buffet or cafeteria-style. I personally wish BJU still had a few more family-style meals a year--it helps you learn table manners. But it's a challenge to seat, serve, and feed 2500 students all at once.

"There are barbed-wire fences ringing the campus to keep people from getting out!"
Reality: The only barbed wire fence ringing the campus is around the back-most fence, which faces East North Street and surrounds the Press Warehouse. It's meant to keep people from taking a shortcut through the woods and the private homes located on back campus, and to protect the BJU Press Warehouse area. All the other gates and fencing are very nice wrought iron. And they're so short it's pretty obvious it's for decor--not security per-se.

"Security is so tight, you can't get on or off the campus without written permission!"
Reality: OK, I'll grant you that you do have to get permission--or at least sign out--to leave the campus. But due to security? I don't think so! It seems the purpose of the written (or as of the 2000 school year, electronic) permission system is to provide a documented manner of contacting you in case of an emergency, and to encourage a sense of responsibility. And once you reach your junior or senior year, permissions become less and less of a requirement. (Side note: it's easy to get off campus-- gates are all wide open from 7AM to 7PM. It's getting back on campus that involves the permission check and such.)

Freshman and sophomore students of either sex must have an APC or PC (see the BJU Glossary) with them when visiting a private home. Why so restrictive? Frankly, I don't like my wife walking around certain parts of Greenville--imagine being a parent sending your child to an unfamiliar city thousands of miles away... doesn't seem very unreasonable to have some responsibility and protection in numbers

"Your dormitory has to pass a white-glove inspection every morning--or else your dating privileges are revoked!"
Reality: You do have to pass a room inspection every morning. I wouldn't exactly call it white glove, though. Trash emptied, sink clean-ish, and floor vacuumed as needed. (Keeps the bugs away when you keep the popcorn swept up, you know.)

There is a "White Glove" day on one Saturday each semester--it's kind of a fun day (assuming you aren't in crunch mode with your studies), except everything's spotless instead of trashed when you're done. The White Glove days are once a semester; immediately before Thanksgiving first semester, and about half-way through second semester if I recall correctly. (No, you don't have to clean your post office box--that's a classic practical joke upperclassmen play on the freshmen.)

Back about 20 years ago (1970-ish? or later?), if you didn't pass white glove inspection, your dating privileges for the next formal event--usually an Artist Series concert, opera, or drama--were revoked. That punishment is not dished out anymore. The only "punishment" for failing white glove now is the embarrassment dished out by your peers in your prayer group that evening.

I was told to be very thankful that BJU has carpeting. At one time, all dorm rooms had tile floors--they had to be polished for White Glove inspection. And another former student tells me that before the tile, the floors were just bare concrete (1950s/60s time period?)

"Amy Grant and Sandi Patti [or Steve Green, or any other CCM artist] once performed in the BJU auditorium!"
Reality: Sorry, this hasn't--and would never--happen. About 1989, BJU had the Chattanooga Boys Choir on campus for a performance. Their conductor--who was not as familiar with BJU as he could have been--said the choir had dome some recording with great artists like Amy Grant, and it was a great honor to perform in the same auditorium where she might have also performed. This created a nervous ripple of laughter and applause, but nothing more. (BJU does not permit any CCM music on campus. Period.)

Side Note: A Steve Green song, "Let the Walls Come Down," was played during a chapel service concerning the topic of CCM and the industry's ecumenical tendencies, which BJU is very cautious of.
"BJU has its own campus church and doesn't let students attend anywhere else!"
Reality: BJU does require dormitory students and most staff members to attend Sunday morning services on campus. However, students are encouraged to attend and join local area churches for Sunday evening services and other ministries. If you are a Sunday School teacher or have another essential part of a Sunday service at a church off-campus for a ministry, that's fine.

Many local-area churches run buses to BJU on Sunday afternoon to provide transportation for those without cars.

"BJU does not allow students to bring a car to campus."
Reality: BJU permits any student to bring a car to school, but you probably won't get to park it on campus until you become an upperclassman due to lack of space. It's a bit of a hike to the off-campus parking lot, but worth the walk if you're driving farther than a few miles. Most underclassmen only use their cars on weekend trips shopping and trips home on cuts. There is a very interesting direct relationship between the GPA of a typical guy and the frequency of vehicular use--very similar to a video game's effect on the GPA, in fact.
"Women are required to wear hats to church services."
Reality: This was true until 1990 (uncertain of the exact time). Being in the South, there are many traditions and behavioral expectations at BJU which you won't find in many other parts of the country: this was one of them. I believe this guideline was dropped shortly after the death of an elderly prominent member of the BJU family. Sure, hats are expensive and most likely annoying: but it certainly added a touch of Southern refinement and class. Feel free to bring any formal hats you have, ladies, but you are no longer required to wear them.
"Half of all BJU marriages end in divorce."
Reality: Depending on whose stats you read, 33% to 50% of all marriages in our country end in divorce. BJU is in our country: hence, half of BJU marriages (however you define that) would also end in divorce. (Though I suspect the success rate for "BJU marriages" is quite a lot higher than the norm.) I personally believe the reasons for said marriage failures is more indicative of a society with pervasive anti-commitment, anti-spiritual influence... not that BJU "does something bad" to cause marriages to fail.

Another thought on this: most people learn about husband/wife relationships by watching their parents--not from soaking in the strict dating rules at BJU. If the parents have done their job, and the children have adopted Christ-like standards and are spiritually mature, a marriage to a correct partner is quite likely to go rather well, no matter where they went to school.
"There is a secret room in Rodeheaver containing weapons to be used in the event of a hostile invasion."
This one was submitted by a former student. He says, "There was supposed to be a locked room in Rhodeheaver that contained machine guns, which were to be used in case of an invasion of the campus by unnamed persons. There [is] a room that none of the stage keys open[s], but I saw it open once, and there was nothing important in there - it [is] just storage for some other department."

My thoughts: this is probably the armory--the costume armory! If there are weapons, they're props.

Update from a friend who worked on security:

"...that armory was not in the Auditiorium, but in the press warehouse... when I was on the Security force, there was a safe in the room with the presses that had a hole about six inches round in the side of it that we had to make sure was closed, and I looked in the hole with my flashlight once and it had machine guns and other stockpiles of ammo. I did not believe it until I saw it. Those things just sat there like the leavings of another generation. We never saw those removed or touched. However, in the West campus security office there was a locker of guns (M-16s, shotguns, and hanguns) that were cleaned every White glove for inspection. It is not unusual for a fully authorized arm of the law, which the armed security staff is, to have in their possession. They also had a half dozen sets of riot armor and gear for that type of thing. But I would imagine that any college that went through the late 60's and early 70's would have those types of things on hand because of the riots that regularly went on at other schools."

Hear any more BJU rumors? I'd enjoy the chance to find out the facts for you. Email me at bjuqa @ troyandjessica.com. The truth, as they say, is out there.

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