Abilene Christian University’s revised policy regarding dancing on campus is explained in a Q&A with ACU administrator Dr. Jean-Noel Thompson on the Christian Chronicle blog.
Thompson, who is vice president for student life and dean of students, announced that after several years of study, the following change was being made to provide safe, supervised on-campus opportunities for social dancing:
Revised Dance Policy Statement: ACU is committed to creating a strong Christian environment, where students have opportunities for appropriate social interaction as young adults and develop lifelong relationships. 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. Therefore, in keeping with the Christian mission of the university, only certain dance forms and venues will be considered for approval. Requests for events involving dance may be submitted by officially recognized ACU student organizations and must be approved by Student Life.
Previous Dance Policy Statement: Dancing is prohibited at ACU-sponsored events or events hosted by official student organizations; however, organizations that exhibit cultural expression through dance as a part of their organizational purpose may have performances by organization members as approved by advisors and the Director of Student Activities and Productions.
While the door to university-sponsored dances is now open for the first time, there are restrictions designed to ensure the new guidelines are closely followed. ACU’s Student Life office will receive proposals from student groups for events, review venues and music lists, and have representatives on site at approved events to help ensure dance forms are appropriate.
Anecdotal feedback from students is overwhelmingly positive.
“In reality, many students come to college – even to our Christian universities – expecting to dance as a recreational and social activity; they dance socially in their high school years, attend proms, dance at family weddings, etc.,” Thompson said in the Q&A. “For example, in Texas, western dance is a culturally accepted activity, and there are opportunities for the young and old to participate in family-friendly events where alcohol is not allowed. There also are, of course, places where our students can choose to dance socially in an environment where Christ is in no way honored and where their safety is jeopardized.”
For example, for more than 30 years, it has been common for ACU students to participate in the Friday night dance in Oplin, Texas. The Grand Ole Oplin, held in a small rural community 25 miles southeast of Abilene, gives young and old the opportunity to learn and practice various country/western dance forms in an environment where smoking and alcohol are not allowed, and participants bring snacks and potluck-style food to share at intermission.
Readers of the Christian Chronicle blog are expressing a variety of views on the subject, but most appear to support the university’s decision.