College, to most people, make up “the best years of a student’s life.” It is, after all, a different world—a strange place where normal societal rules don’t usually fit and apply like they do anywhere else. While most institutions implement typical on-campus rules and regulations, each and every college and university is unique on its own. Some impose strange university rules characterized by highly restrictive codes. There are policies that are often described as quite a little bit too strange for most students to deal with.
Basic school rules, such as restraining oneself from hurting or causing others trouble, exist to protect the welfare of students. Fully complying with common on-campus rules is often a breeze. Every once in awhile, however, some schools come up with ridiculous and absurd policies that drive students (and outsiders) out of their wits.
Are you an incoming freshman who’s heading for college any time soon? Does the thought of college life thrill you? Or maybe you are still in the middle of making an informed decision as you choose from US colleges. Before your fret about all the things you think you could probably enjoy when college starts, you might want to set proper expectations first. Factor in the policies of your school of choice. You never know you might be in for school rules that are too strange for your liking.
Here are 7 US colleges and universities with bizarre traditions and unusual policies:
- Georgetown University (Washington, DC)
- California State University LA (California)
- Vassar College (New York)
- Ohio State University (Columbus, Ohio)
- Bringham Young University (Utah)
- Christian Liberty University (Virginia)
- Bob Jones University (South Carolina)
Georgetown University (Washington, DC)
Halloween celebration in Georgetown University is probably scarier than in any other colleges. On Halloween night, undergrad students flock to the Jesuit cemetery within the vicinity, gather around, stare up at the moon, and howl their lungs out like a pack of wolves. This decades-old “Healy Howl” tradition “to banish the ghosts and ghouls that haunt the campus” also remembers the 1973 Exorcist film which was shot around the university. Talk about creepy.
California State University LA (California)
Cal State LA has a peculiar way of segregating housing for students based on their color. You read that right. The state university has offered black students separate dorms that are off-limits to white students. This practice is supposedly acceptable to provide the blacks with a “safe space” from the whites. Understandably, this policy was generally frowned upon by the public when it was rolled out in 2016. In an official statement, Cal State LA clarified that the Halisi Scholars Black Living-Learning Community, which was “mischaracterized” by the media, is in fact alternative housing for students who are interested in “Pan-African history, culture, and current affairs” and in “issues facing the African-American community on-campus”.
Eyebrow-raising indeed, but whatever works for everyone, right?
Vassar College (New York)
Vassar College has a tradition called “serenading”. Essentially, it is a scene involving freshmen students singing mean and offensive songs to insult the seniors as they walk door to door, pelted with water balloons filled with condiments. It’s not unusual for students to go door to door, sing, engage in a food fight in the spirit of fun, but making an annual tradition out of it is in a derogatory and insulting manner sounds like a completely different story. For most people, it’s oddly out of the box. While “serenading” sounds like a good thing, Vassar College does it to portray pretty much the opposite–but students say it’s a fun tradition nevertheless!
Ohio State University (Columbus, Ohio)
In 1990, Ohio State University students jumped into the freezing Mirror Lake located inside the campus to celebrate the victory of their football team against their rivals Michigan. The tradition lived on with thousands of students participating in it every single year. Aptly called the “Mirror Lake Jump” this ritual would happen on the week leading up to the football game. While met with protests following an unfortunate event, the tradition certainly made Ohio State University students some of the most fun and daring bunch.
Bringham Young University (Utah)
Ever heard of a college that’s a certified no-French-beard zone for male students? Well, there’s one in Provo, Utah. Bringham Young University houses a a section on grooming because they have an honor code against their male students growing a beard. The school had taken this tradition a tad seriously. In fact, if you have a skin condition that would make shaving a nightmare for you, you simply had to obtain a doctor’s consent to validate your claim. This policy was met with protests but was strictly imposed for years. Later, the policy was “encouraged” with a few exceptions. Shave your faces clean, BYU gents.
Christian Liberty University (Virginia)
In our generation, society has become more and more accepting and tolerant of what used to be sensitive matters such as gender equality, racism, divorce, abortion, and socialism to name a few. And it is not surprising that a lot of universities today have legitimate campus groups and organizations dedicated to raise awareness on these causes. But in Christian Liberty University, the norm is different. In 2009, students of this conservative school formed a chapter of the College Democrats and earned recognition for it. Consequently, they were banned by higher administration for an obvious reason: their agenda is in conflict with the school’s so-called ethics.
In 2015, changes were made to address students’ cries against too many rules that they believed shouldn’t be there. For one, Liberty University “reworded” their dress code for women to get rid of “a whole big list of things that say “do this and don’t do this”.
Bob Jones University (South Carolina)
We thought that Asbury’s policy on R-rated movies was already weird and tough enough. But we’re not prepared for Bob Jones University’s ridiculous rule: restricting their Residence Hall students from watching movies in theaters or watching videos with an above-G rating even out of the campus. This religious South Carolina school has also banned jazz, rap, and country music as well as religious tunes that are based on these styles.
Over the last 10 years, BJU has reportedly discarded its “unusual” policies while still being founded on the university’s creed’s Fundamentalist truths. With some acceptable limitations, students can now go to the movies, women are now allowed to wear pants, and the gentlemen may now sport beard.There’s no telling if your university will have rules that are unheard of anywhere else and your college experience could be a weird one. Nevertheless, your school is the best place for you to be equipped as you transition into adulthood. It is where your ideas are heard and challenged to make an independent individual out of you. All colleges share one thing in common: expected to foster an atmosphere of opportunities and growth. For students: brace yourselves because every institution and every college individual is unique; you are responsible for shaping your own daily college experience!