It is not unusual to hear students complaining about ACU’s “strict” policies. The typical sources of discontent are Chapel policies, freshman curfew and dress code. However, when examined next to former rules at Abilene Christian College, our policies today don’t seem so bad.
According to the 1929-1930 ACC Students’ Handbook, if a student missed three or more days of Chapel, one hour of credit would be deducted from the student’s work. Three unexcused class absence or “cuts,” also resulted in the deduction of one hour of credit.
Today, we’re required to attend Chapel 55 times per semester, and we’re allowed 18 “skips”. Additionally, we can take advantage of those “skips” and still meet our Chapel quota by attending Chapel forums.
The old handbook included a section titled Regulations for the Girls, which forbade women, except seniors, from riding in cars with men “without permission and a chaperone selected by the hostess of the dormitory.” A woman had to sign in and out every time she left and returned to campus, and each were given specific measurements regarding sleeve length and skirt length – “two or three inches below the bottom of the knee-cap, according to the height of the girl.”
This policy extended into the 1980s and still women were forbidden to wear pants at ACC And forget about shorts during the hot summer months; they were so far out of the realm of modesty, women might be scolded for thinking about them.
Walk around campus today, however, and you’ll realize we take for granted the policies that have been adjusted in our favor, while we’re busy complaining about the rules with which we disagree.
Lynda Thornton, coordinator of adult education in the Department of Applied Studies, attended ACU from 1964-’68. She said she remembers the intensity of ACU’s former dress code.
“Pants did not seem to indicate you were a girl, and shorts – oh my word, nope,” Thornton said
She remembers men wearing button-up shirts – no tank tops – and no one complained.
Today, “students are encouraged to demonstrate by their dress and appearance a mature Christian attitude and the ability to discern propriety,” according to the ACU dress code policy.
Thornton said visitation rules were also different.They would have one open house night each year where men could visit women’s dorms.
Today, men and women can visit residence halls once a week from 6-10 p.m., as long as the resident assitant is on the hall.
Policy changes are just one of the many reasons Thornton says ACU students have it better than they think.
Our university has policies that may seem rigid, but the next time you put on a pair of shorts, remember it could be worse.