This news article has created quite a stir this week. St. Mary's University is "feeling the heat" as the nation is looking on in horror. Because of social media, a chant at Frosh Week promoting violent sex was recorded and unleashed to the masses. And people are shocked.
I'm not. The same thing happened at UBC. And at York University. And just two years ago, the University I graduated from had this happen.
FYI, I just found those articles in a 30 second Google search. And these are just the ones the media has found. I hate to break it to you, but Frosh Week has been ugly all across Canada for a very long time. I was thankfully sheltered from it for my Undergrad. I lived at home and was part of SASF (Salvation Army Student Fellowship), so I never once was at a gathering of students that involved alcohol, or drugs, or sex.
My University career is kind of backwards. In 2008 I went to do my Masters at Acadia Divinity College. Most people live in dorm for undergrad and off campus for their Masters, but I chose to live at Acadia University while I was at ADC. I was on campus for 3 years, the last 2 of which I worked as a Resident Assistant (RA). At 23 years old, I was experiencing "frosh week" for the first time (and all the other things that happen throughout the year). I could hide from some of it in my first year, but in years 2 and 3 it was my job to help police it. I was going to try to share a list of some things that went down... but it's too hard to try and describe it all. Let's just say, University is a place where all rules and morals surrounding partying, drinking, sex, drugs, and authority, are in question. I have seen bright-eyed seemingly high-standard kids end up drunk and sleeping around. It happens. On every Campus. Every year.
I know that some Christian Universities use this fear to play on parents (and students) on why they should go to their school instead of a secular University. While I think this is a good choice for some people, I don't think it's the only choice. There is a deeper problem. Why is it that the morality of a student is flushed down the toilet as soon as they move away from home? When they move away from their church? Why haven't they been mentored and discipled well enough that they can withstand the pressures of the world?
All a Christian University buys you is 4 more years of a safety net. Sooner or later, the real world is going to hit. And the moral compass of this world is non-existent. So whether you are 14, 17, 23, or 35, at some point in life you're going to have to deal with it.
As a NextGen Pastor I am always asking the question of discipleship. How do you invest in a child's life, and partner with their family, from the time they're born until they are an adult, so when they go to University they have a living relationship with Jesus that is stronger than what the world throws at them? How do we do that well? Because a well behaved kid who is "nice" is not going to cut it. They will get sucked in. I promise.
What do you think? What can parents do to help build authentic faith in their child? What can the church do?
All this to say... I do not blame SMU, no more than I blame every other University in Canada. You could ask why University's employ students to be RA's to their peers... but even if we had older people in those roles I don't think it would eliminate the problems (it would just move some of them to off-campus areas - saw that happen too!). What's really to blame here is sin - our fallen world and the complete ethical disrepair our society has been in for the last several decades. It's an epidemic, and it's upsetting. But please don't try and point fingers at someone just to try and fix a problem that runs FAR deeper than any one person. We all have a choice in how we will live. Most High School grads choose to try this lifestyle on when Frosh Week arrives. I pray that families and churches will take NextGen discipleship more seriously as we seek to grow followers of Christ who will know how to live in the world but not be of it.