Geneva’s dancing policy: A history

Geneva’s policy on dancing has changed in the 2016-2017 Student Handbook. While the regulations themselves stay mostly the same, the wording has evolved.

The revised policy reads: “Geneva College does not allow on-campus and/or college-sponsored dances. In addition, the College does not allow college clubs, classes, organizations, athletic teams, etc. to sponsor off-campus dances without the preapproval from the Vice President of Student Development. Geneva College’s name, or the name of any official campus organization, is not to be used in the advertisement (posted either on or off campus) of non-approved off-campus dances.”

Brian Jensen, vice president of student development, attributed this change simply to the need for an update for better clarity.

The previous policy read, “Geneva College does not allow on-campus dancing, except for square dancing, line dancing, and traditional folk dancing.” This led to a common misinterpretation that individual, casual dancing was prohibited. Geneva hopes to resolve this misunderstanding through the revision.

Although the origins of the dance policy are unclear, the first mention of dancing in the Geneva College archives dates back to 1880, listed under the “Rules and Regulations.” The 1886-1887 catalog specifies against the “attendance upon theatres, dances and other improper places of resort” due to “the aim of the college being to train in knowledge, virtue and religion, [and] whatever has a tendency to defeat this end, or is inconsistent with it, will be treated as an offense.”

According to the Geneva College archives, in the fall of 1966, the student senate petitioned for a reconsideration of the Biblical bases of some regulations, including dancing. As reason for the policy, it was penned that “the college has felt that dancing in some of its forms is so incompatible with a Christian ethic that the college cannot consistently serve Christ and provide this activity for the students.”

Although Geneva does not stand against dancing, since dancing itself is Biblical in nature, it does believe that some forms of it can be immoral. The college, therefore, cannot allow a sponsored dance because of the moral disconnect with the Biblical bases for the regulation.

In more plain wording, it is acceptable for students to break out in dance on campus, and it is by no means against the rules to dance at your leisure. Dancing in and of itself is allowable, but the organization of a Geneva-affiliated dance is, and will continue to be, prohibited.

Dr. Calvin Troup, president of Geneva College, said in an email interview, “Here the important distinction is between dancing, which occurs appropriately in many campus contexts, and ‘dances’ in the sense of college sponsored social events.”

Appropriate campus dances may be allowed, however, with the pre-approval of Jensen. However, they won’t necessarily be what students want because they will “not [be] like your high school’s homecoming,” said Jensen.

The arrival of a new president means that only time will tell the future of the dance policy. In an email interview, Troup says, “We’ve recently revised the policy. We’ll see how it works for a while. I’ll be watching for more outbreaks of appropriate spontaneous dancing in the meantime!”

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