Dancing is now permitted in university-sponsored events or other events sponsored by official student organizations.
ACU’s Board of Trustees affirmed a revised dance policy statement created by the office of Student Life that instead of prohibiting all forms of dance at any university or organization event, the new statement says Student Life may consider certain dance forms for approval. Only officially recognized organizations may submit requests for permission to incorporate dance into the event.
“Many forms of dance and cultural expression are embraced by our society, some of which are consistent with our Christian mission and values, while others are more likely to distract us from a Christ-centered life,” states the revised policy. “Therefore, in keeping with the Christian mission of the university, only certain dance forms and venues will be considered for approval.”
Dr. Jean-Noel Thompson, vice president of student life and dean of students, sent an email detailing the difference between the old and new policies to faculty and staff Tuesday afternoon. It was sent to all university students soon after. Thompson said the decision was made to help students have a more positive experience at events sponsored by the university or official organizations.
“We’ve been meeting within Student Life and with the Students’ Association to create a plan that would allow organizations to request permission to have social dancing, beginning this semester,” Thompson said. “We assessed the current policy from the standpoint of evaluating whether or not we’re contributing to or detracting from our goal of equipping young adults to make mature spiritual decisions in their lives.”
Dancing requests must be submitted to Student Life for approval of the music and types of dancing and faculty, staff or advisers must be present at the events in order for requests to be approved.
Thompson said his experience before he came to ACU four and a half years ago helped to make the revised policy clearer.
“I’ve served as dean of students at two other faith-based colleges and universities that allowed dancing,” he said. “I had some experience questioning whether it distracted students from their faith or studies.”
Thompson said the policy could potentially receive further revisions.
“This is the first time ACU is making any sort of change to this policy,” he said. “There will probably be some tweaking down the road after reviewing reaction from students. For now we feel very good about this revision but it could need some alterations.”
Dr. Cole Bennett, director of Swing Cats, said the current policy limited the on campus swing dance group.
“Heretofore, we have been unable to host open lessons and dances on campus for everyone who is interested,” Bennett said. “Rather, we’ve been a ‘performance club’ that was limited to teaching and performing with dues-paying members only.”
Bennett said he expected a change to result in the group’s membership rules.
“In our original arrangement with Student life and [former] President Money, we restricted inaugurating new members to the first few weeks of a given semester,” he said. “In a new, open paradigm with no restrictions on membership, the Swing Cats will need to prepare to welcome newbies each week, but we’re more than happy to accommodate this change.”
Thompson said neither the current or revised policy applies to individual students’ dancing on or off campus.
“If it’s not associated with an ACU organization or event that ACU is holding, we’re not going to restrict the dancing,” Thompson said. “We want to make sure there are boundaries and guidelines for students, but we also don’t want to over-manage them. Our students are young adults.”