One of the interesting aspects of PCC is that everywhere you look, there is always a different “irony” that is a direct result of the policies which the school has seen fit to enact – i.e., separate but public beaches, a claim to moral superiority at an unscriptural church, the requirement of “closet
devotions” except if you’re a mixed couple, PCC’s Biblical “discipline,” etc. This reminds me of Paul’s exhortation to the church at Corinth when he was quoting the book of Isaiah: “For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.” (I Corinthians 1:19) When we examine these ironies in the light of Scripture and reason, the ludicrous nature of PCC’s “system” becomes all the more apparent.
If you happen to have a 1996 PCC Summit, I ask that you read no further until you open it up to pages 40, 41. . . . For those of you who do not have ‘96’s yearbook, let me describe the picture that is the centerpiece of this page. First of all, let it be noted that this is the page that introduces the “collegians,” and for those of you who do not attend PCC, a “collegian” is a spin off of the collegiate fraternity system in secular schools, only it has a “Christian” emphasis. . . supposedly. They are campus organizations to which each student MUST belong, regardless of whether or not the student actually desires to be a part of a collegian. These collegians meet a couple of times a month to (1) “conduct business,” which is business strictly governed and controlled by the administration and with little room for creativity by the students; (2) “fellowship” (I have always found the “forced” fellowship an unusual policy, but a policy I have come to expect at PCC); and (3) “fun and games,” even though a student may have a test the next period, he or she must still participate in these juvenile activities.
This is, however, beside the point. These pages that I refer to are the introductory pages of the collegian section of the yearbook. There are four subsidiary pictures surrounding one primary picture, and it is this center picture that I would like to discuss. The setting is “Greek Rush,” also commonly referred to by the students as “Geek Rush,” apparently because of the high geek-to-student ratio at this event. Again, for those of you who do not attend, this is an event at the beginning of the school year where each collegian parades through the center of campus in the midst of throngs of students in an attempt to persuade new students that they are the best collegian and should therefore be joined. The tactics used to persuade the students are a bit odd, for they do not demonstrate anything, really, at least nothing of any importance or substance. Each collegian arrives in a unique vehicle, be it an antique car, a fire truck, a crane, or even a small plane. Somewhere in the entourage are the following characters: the collegian mascot acting like an imbecile usually, some athletes dressed in their athletic clothes (this is one of the acceptable times for guys to wear shorts in public), some cheerleaders, a few of the more “rowdy” members of the collegian (for “spirit”), and occasionally a few faculty members. This
is supposedly what new students are interested in, and based on this parade and a booth that has been set up, which doesn’t include much more than the parade does, a student must pick his or her collegian family.
Again, though, this is essentially irrelevant to the point of this article, but the context must be understood. In the background of the picture is Griffith Tower, its impressive brick structure creates an
institutional backdrop against the bright blue Florida sky. The picture has you in the middle of the street looking at a particular collegian’s entourage proceeding directly towards you. Along the sides of the street are students standing and sitting, all looking amazingly interested. Approaching you as
you observe this picture is what appears to be a dump truck loaded with a bunch of guys in the back, hanging off the side and even sitting on the hood. But the center of this picture, and I can only assume the main theme of the yearbook’s portrayal of the collegian system are two guys holding a large sign that says, “BE YOURSELF.”
Think about that for a minute – be yourself. And then remember where this is at – PCC. One of the last places on earth that you can “be yourself” is at PCC. “Being yourself” is one of the quickest ways to get shipped; “being yourself” means ignoring all of the restrictions that you would normally never impose on yourself; “being yourself” means NOT being what PCC wants you to be. So, why would this sign not only be allowed by the administration (remember, everything goes through “ad check”), but why would
it also be the central theme of the collegian section of the yearbook? What are the reasons for this sign being where it is while saying what it says? Or has anyone ever even thought about it?
REASONS AND PROBLEMS
Reason A. A way to entice freshmen.
One of the possible rationales for this message is a concerted effort by the administration to send a message to all of the freshmen that collegians are a place that you can “let your hair down,” so to speak, a place where you don’t have to follow the crowd. This is certainly an enticing idea, and even though this may have never been intended, it certainly has crossed someone’s mind. Bear in mind that the freshmen have only been around for a week or two when this takes place, so they are still “adjusting” to the new lifestyle and will probably be looking for some relief.
Freshmen are still used to the outside world (“real” to me; “unreal” to PCC). When a freshman sees a sign that says “Join us, and you can be yourself,” he thinks to himself that this isn’t so unusual – PCC may have some “normal” aspects after all. Everyone wants to “be themselves.” Few people want to be considered someone who does something simply because everyone else does it. “Be yourself” sends a positive message to new freshmen.
The problem with this reasoning is that it simply is not honest. A student can no more “be themselves” in a collegian than they can be in their dorms or in a class. Sure, the activities are more relaxed and informal than in, say, a church service, but as we all know, demerits are handed out just
as freely in collegian meetings as they are anywhere else. If a student, particularly a collegian officer wishes to actually follow this encouragement and “be himself,” guess what happens? The next time he wishes to be himself, he will be doing so as a non-collegian officer, if he is lucky.
I honestly do not know what the reasoning was behind allowing this sign to be placed where it was, but I know that if it was because someone wanted someone else to believe that this was actually allowed or encouraged on the campus of PCC, then the person who permitted it was being flat-out dishonest. Why have rules if everyone can be themselves? The whole purpose of having a system of control is so that people WILL NOT be themselves, for we are sinful people. If PCC wants its students to be themselves, then I would encourage them to throw away the handbook as soon as the next semester starts. If they do NOT want students to be themselves, which I suspect to be closer to the truth, then I would encourage the yearbook staff to be more careful next time not to create a false impression of the truth, for a false impression is every bit as false as an actual statement.
Reason B. PCC actually believes it.
Perhaps the reason PCC allowed the message “Be Yourself” to be the theme of the collegian section of the ‘96 Yearbook was because they actually believe that while at PCC, students are “being themselves.” This sort of goes hand-in-hand with the reasoning that because inside the walls of PCC is a closer representation of “truth,” it is therefore the “real world” as opposed to that which really exists outside the walls. PCC becomes the focal point of reality. All ideas are filtered through the screen of PCC ideology. However students act on campus (assuming they are abiding by the policies) is the way that students can actually “be themselves.” Deep down inside each student’s psyche is a sort of Freudian-like, unconscious desire to be told what to do all the time.
Or perhaps the collegians are where this act of “being oneself” takes place. I find this highly insulting as a former student, because I can assure the administration that “being myself” in no way included being forced to participate in juvenile activities. For many students to “be themselves”
would mean that they would be involved in NO collegian at all, not IN one acting like a child.
The problem with this is that “being oneself” is not synonymous with being a PCC clone. If this were so, then people would continue after graduating to live in the PCC way, and there would be many others who would had never lived at PCC who would live the same way. However, there are few who fit this description, so either most of civilization is not “being themselves” or PCC’s possible idea that “being yourself” is synonymous with the way students (and faculty) are required to live is simply not accurate.
Reason C. Ignorance.
This, I suspect, is the real reason for the sign being displayed as the introduction to the collegians. I suspect that no one ever actually thought about it. Hey, it sounded “cool,” and it looked “groovy.” And isn’t that what collegians are all about? I suspect that when the administrator who approved this message to be displayed in front of thousands of students and faculty (and guests?) sat down and actually approved it, he or she never even stopped to think about what message the message would send. No one actually realized that a student could never “be themselves” while on campus at PCC and so therefore, this sign represented an inaccurate image of what PCC is about. Therefore, the sign should not have been displayed. It is a rather simple thought process, but simple thought process’ seem to be often lacking at PCC.
The primary problem with this is that at a college, this should be the last place where a lack of thought produces such an obvious irony. A place where “higher education” is taking place should actually produce something that is “higher.” Of course, this is a subjective term, and perhaps the administration should clarify just how “high” they intend a student and themselves to be able to think. Perhaps it is equal to the level of control imposed – adolescence? Or perhaps it is “higher” than junior high. Any
higher would eliminate ironies such as the one on this yearbook page.
Unfortunately, simple thought and numerous ironies are commonplace at PCC, and frankly, it is embarrassing. I had a student write me not too long ago trying to explain that PCC never searches for truth, because God reveals it to us directly. But yet the school does claim to be searching for truth as the college hymn, “Searching for Wisdom” would seem to indicate. And another student tried to explain that the school does not allow men and women to hold hands because of Paul’s admonition that it is not good for a man to touch a woman, but yet the school DOES allow students to hold hands, even though it is in a highly controlled environment.
Where is the higher thought? Where is the simple understanding that an ironic message displayed to the world should be an embarrassing message? Where is the understanding that a system that discourages creativity and independent thought will do just that? And why does PCC pool all of its efforts to maintain such a system? Legalism will do that. A man-made system of morality will create embarrassing situations and plenty of ironies, and when it reaches the level it has on the campus of PCC, it will greatly eliminate rational thought, and with a little rational thought, this would have never happened.
But what’s the big deal, you might be asking? Inaccurate messages by one claiming to be “real” is always a big deal.
It is interesting to note that the person who created this sign was asked not to come back because he “didn’t fit into the ministry of PCC.” Perhaps he followed his own PCC-accepted words of advice? Ironic, isn’t it?