By Christopher Beach
In less than two weeks from today I will graduate from Patrick Henry College and finish four years of my undergraduate. Looking back, I can remember a lot of the typical college experiences– late night studying, spring break road trips, and nights out with your friends. I’m fortunate to say that I was never involved or associated in one particular college trend in all of my four years – violence or murder.
Having personally known one of the girls shot at Virginia Tech on April 16th, 2007, my heart breaks every time I hear of college-related violence and the pointless death of innocent students.
Today, my heart goes out to the family of Yeardley Love, a 22-year-old lacrosse player and student at the University of Virginia, murdered this week by her on-and-off 22-year-old boyfriend.
The thought of such a tragedy makes me wonder why my experience at college has been so different from a majority of the campuses across America. In four years, my school has not had a single murder, suicide, or violent crime.
Considering that the USA Today calculated 857 college student deaths from 2000 to 2005, how does one school manage to escape unscathed? It’s certainly not chance or luck. For Patrick Henry College, it’s in our Christian culture.
Critics mock us for our strict rules – like no dancing or drinking on campus, no members of the opposite sex permitted in your dorm room, nightly curfew hours – and the lack of a social atmosphere it creates. We have been the subject of books (God’s Harvard), television shows, op-eds, and countless blogs who rant against our brand of overbearing right-wing Christianity that poisons society’s freedom.
Yet, what is the cost of students being able to “express” themselves? Is that freedom worth the cost of drunk driving deaths, drug related violence, and love affairs turned fatal?
I’m certainly not saying that Christians are not capable of committing the same, if not worse crimes. But the culture of Christianity and the rules we hold ourselves to at Patrick Henry lay substantial roadblocks to violent or illegal behavior.
Granted, our entire school population would be one or two classes at UVA, but the fact remains that Patrick Henry College has it’s own recipe for student safety that is active and working. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve broken the college’s rules, but as I look back, I realize that in many ways those same laws saved me from myself.
Non-Christians who are reading this right now are sure to be shaking their heads at me. How can you use one unfortunate crime to wave your rules over our heads and try to enforce your agenda on us? I understand that many people are turned off by Christianity and its giant “rulebook.” But as the number of college related attacks and crimes rise, and as more campuses are scarred with senseless deaths, I hope universities will consider the facts before them and realize that there is a way to prevent future heartbreaks – commit to enforcing tough, moral laws and foster a community of students who want to uphold those laws.
Christopher Beach is Associate Producer of Bill Bennett’s nationally syndicated radio show, Morning In America, and a senior at Patrick Henry College. He blogs at Beach Notes.