Guest / Limited Access /

Wheaton loosens restrictions on dancing, drinking, and smoking after discovering legal requirement
At 2,025 words, Wheaton College's new "Community Covenant" is three-and-a-half times longer than the 578-word "Statement of Responsibilities" it replaces. But what was removed from the Statement of Responsibilities will attract the most attention.

Announced Monday, the Community Covenant drops the school's ban on "most forms of social dancing" and allows faculty, staff, and graduate students to consume alcohol and tobacco.

"We initially undertook the job of reviewing the [Statement of Responsibilities] with the intent of changing as little as possible," trustee Bud Knoedler says in a letter from college President Duane Litfin. "We quickly found that, when you begin to 'tweak' a 30-year-old policy, you quickly run into huge changes in culture and attitudes among evangelical Christians, both on and off campus, as well as vastly different student attitudes, needs and pressures. In addition, we found it necessary to address several legal issues, which are totally new to us since the present [Statement of Responsibilities] was written. We quickly realized that a total rewrite seemed inevitable, and necessary."

The largest legal issue is the 1991 Illinois Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act, Litfin explains. The state law says businesses can't discriminate against applicants or employees if "the individual uses lawful products off the premises of the employer during non-working hours." If a ban on drinking and smoking was a "matter of clear and consistent religious requirement," Litfin says, the school might have been able to claim an exemption. "But short of such an ironclad argument, no such prohibition appears to be legal under ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
Tags:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Current IssueGene Yang: A Graphic Novelist Caught Between Two Worlds
Subscriber Access Only
Gene Yang: A Graphic Novelist Caught Between Two Worlds
The graphic novelist and MacArthur Grant recipient sees his life as an outsider as a blessing.
TrendingAll 240 Family Christian Stores Are Closing
All 240 Family Christian Stores Are Closing
More than 3,000 employees in 36 states will be laid off in the liquidation of one of the world’s largest Christian retailers.
Editor's PickMy Missionary Great-Grandfather Led Me to Christ
My Missionary Great-Grandfather Led Me to Christ
But only after I went to Japan in search of his life story.
Christianity Today
Wheaton College Allows Dancing for All, Drinking and Tobacco for ...
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

February 2003

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.