Tag Archive | "media policy"

IWU revises media policy


SGA President Tim Scurlock addresses the student body in chapel on Monday, Oct. 14, giving his insights on the media policy and dress code changes.

Indiana Wesleyan University students can now watch R-rated movies and play M-rated video games.

But IWU Dean of Student Conduct Andrew Parker wants you to read past that sentence.

“The intent behind it is not to say ‘the R-rated movie policy’s gone, the M-rated policy’s gone, it’s a free-for-all!'” Parker said Thursday in an exclusive interview with The Sojourn. “But we want to make sure students understand why they’ve changed; those policies have changed intentionally.”

The university announced this rule revision, effective immediately, along with a simplification of the dress code policy during chapel services Monday. Any movies rated above R, including NC-17, pornography and adult-only video games will still be banned.

Student Government Association President Tim Scurlock, IWU Executive Vice President Keith Newman and Parker all spoke during the service, hoping to make clear the reasons and vision for the new system.

“The policy is recognizing that they’re adults,” Parker said. “But it’s also calling to say, with this comes responsibility and even some added thought that we need to have as Christians of ‘how are we critical consumers of media?'”

SGA played an important role in the process that culminated Monday. The university enacted exploratory committees June and July 2012 for the media and dress code policies respectively, according to Parker. Students sat on both these committees.

Click here to read the updated policy

Scurlock echoed Parker’s sentiments before the announcement, saying he wants his fellow students to actively think about the media they consume.

“I hope students, my peers, understand the philosophy behind this; they’re wanting to empower students and give them personal responsibility,” Scurlock said Thursday. “This is a great opportunity for students to wrestle with what it means to be a Christian while engaging media, what does it mean for a Christian while choosing, for the most part, what is appropriate, what is modest. I hope at the end of chapel students are willing to recognize that this is an ongoing process of trying to better understand what it means to be a Christian in culture today.”

These ideas started in those exploratory committees almost a year and a half ago before going to the cabinet, which consists of all the vice presidents of the university and President David Wright. Each proposal received revision recommendations before going to the student, staff and faculty-led Student Life Council. The proposals then went before the cabinet one final time and were unanimously approved Sept. 6.


IWU Dean of Student Conduct Andrew Parker announces the policy changes during the 10 a.m. chapel service.

“That’s exactly what we should be about — having these conversations,” Parker said. “As a liberal arts institution we should be opening people’s minds, expanding people’s mind, seeing what’s out there; pursuing truth.”

Parker also said the debates surrounding media policies and dress codes at Christian colleges has been going on for “several decades.”

As for the dress code policy, Parker said the new rules are more concise, paring down a 600-word policy with guidelines down to the inches. The updated standards are “less prescriptive,” according to Parker, meaning it’s less about specific rules and more about the concept of being modest.

Modesty may appear like a gray area, but we’re wanting students to think about what is modest,” Parker said. “Think about how you’re presenting yourself, how you view yourself and what you wear says about who you are.”

With both of the new rules, Parker and Scurlock each hope the change prompts more conversations and learning opportunities for students.

“Hopefully we learn how to look at things and not just shut them off as being secular or negative,” Scurlock said. “But we learn how to come along these different media and we learn how to look at culture with a lens that’s critical but also positive and that there’s room for transformation.”

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Rewriting the student handbook

1239048_660417887303407_1203747725_nThe 2013-2014 school year is well underway at Indiana Wesleyan University. But IWU has yet to release its annual Student Handbook, the 50+ page document detailing the school’s community standards.

According to the university’s Dean of Student Conduct Andrew Parker, students should continue following last year’s handbook until the Student Development Office releases this year’s version.

“Depending on the nature of the policy, sometimes there’s an element of planning that goes into how we are going to implement and announce this policy,” Parker said. “If it’s more of a philosophical approach or theoretical lens through which you’re looking at a certain issue, sometimes there needs to be additional dialogue with that policy review.”

Parker did say the dress code and much-debated media policy, which bans most R-rated movies and M-rated video games, were two rules “under review and revision.” Although he didn’t say what those revisions would be.

Some changes Parker did detail, however, include the harassment policy no longer being categorized under “stalking,” a redefined discrimination policy and a new “Good Samaritan Clause” in the disciplinary section, specifically relating to drugs and alcohol.

“We wanted to remove any barrier for the safety of that student in need of medical attention,” said Parker of the new rule.

The Good Samaritan Clause will provide a certain level of amnesty for a student who calls for emergency assistance on behalf of another individual who needs it when both have been breaking a university rule. Parker used the example of two students drinking at a party and one succumbing to alcohol poisoning, saying the individual calling for help would be considered turning him or herself in, thus going through a self-report process outside of official disciplinary action.

As for the official announcement of all changes, Parker said there is no timetable for the release of the 2013-2014 version of the handbook but stressed that students are playing a part in the conversation.

“It’s not like the process is kept secret from students,” Parker said. “The policies we’ve been working on over the past year, they’ve all had at least a couple students on the committee. Students, faculty and staff are all an integral part of that process.”

Parker also encouraged students to bring any questions or ideas about policies to IWU staff, administration and SGA.

“The student handbook is a living document,” Parker said. “It’s always growing and changing and evolving, and hopefully for the better as we learn more about who we are and who God’s calling us to be. Not just as individuals but as a community.”

Follow The Sojourn for more news on this story as it becomes available.

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‘The Walking Dead’ ratings change, questions IWU media policy

By Sean Huncherick

Two weeks ago, the popular AMC TV series, “The Walking Dead,” moved from a TV-14 to a TV-MA rating (the equivalent of an R-rated film), due to graphic violence and language. Even though Indiana Wesleyan University has a set media policy for movies and video games, television shows aren’t restricted in any way.

In the past year, “The Walking Dead” has been extremely popular with students at IWU. For each new episode, students in Bowman Hall and Scripture Hall gather together and watch the zombie drama.

Rett Huntington (fr) has been watching the show since its start in 2011. Last week, he saw it with nearly 20 other students in the Bowman lobby. Despite the show being a gory zombie series, he sees several morals in the show.

Huntington finds that the show “revolves more around humanity and being civilized in an uncivilized world than on zombies.”

“The main character, Rick, constantly makes sacrifices for his family,” said Huntington. “He is trying his best to be a good father in a bad situation.”

Scripture Hall Resident Director Ian Slater said the role of entertainment should be used for the glory of God.

“The show itself and our generation’s fascination with zombies have both good and bad qualities,” said Slater. “One hand, you can use it to engage in conversations exploring what it means to be human and seeing what humanity really means in a crisis. On the other hand, when we consume media with dark elements, it is important to question if it is praising the dark elements.”

Aspects such as this call “The Walking Dead” into question.

The IWU handbook states that no student is allowed to watch any R-rated movies while enrolled at the school apart from ones on the approved list. Realistic violent films such as “The Patriot,” “The Book of Eli” and “The Last Samurai” are approved, but the fantasy-violence of “Pan’s Labyrinth” is denied.

The handbook is much less clear on the media policy regarding television, books and music. It states that unless the medium contains excessive profanity, sexuality, violence or the occult, it is generally permissible.

The dean of student conduct, Andrew Parker, said an RA or RD can exercise his or her own judgment if a student watches a show that could cross the line of vulgarity. The RD or RA can have the show turned off or even banned.

Parker said the handbook, which is updated every year, is likely to stay the same for now.

“At this point, I would say the university is not going to have a list of shows students can’t watch,” Parker said. “It’s hard enough with movies.”

Tim Witte (sr) is doubtful a ban on TV-MA shows would be successful, because he said he thinks students would continue watching anyway.

“I don’t think students care,” he said. “It wouldn’t be shown publicly in any dorm, but students will still try to get around it.”

Huntington also thinks it would be more beneficial to give students guidelines than a full-out ban.

“I understand regulation to an extent,” Huntington said, “but for the most part it should be left to the students.”

At the same time, Witte also believes a ban could give students a chance to use integrity. If the student handbook ruled out TV-MA shows, he wonders if students would have the respect to say, “No, I signed an agreement that I won’t watch it.”

Parker added that students are encouraged to continue addressing the media policy. Whether they are for or against it, he said their input makes a difference.

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IWU Creep, reacts

There’s yet another Indiana Wesleyan University-specific social media account.

IWU Creep is an Instagram account dedicated to “creeping on” students at Indiana Wesleyan University. The anonymous figures who run the site take and post random pictures of IWU students. Usually, they add a humorous tagline, and sometimes the person is even tagged in the picture.

In February of last year, a Tumblr blog page was started with this same concept. When this academic year started in September, IWU Creep joined Instagram and ended up switching entirely to that alternative social media outlet midway through the semester.

As of now, the Instagram account has 69 random student photos posted and 340 followers.

Lindsey Smart (sr) was featured in a photo recently standing in the cheeseburger line at Wildcat, but she found “creepy” was the wrong adjective to use in describing her reaction.

“Yeah, at first I thought it was creepy, but then I just decided it was kind of lame,” said Smart. “It’s just not as exciting as I thought it would be — I thought it would be funnier.”

From an administrative standpoint, it’s about following the handbook, according to Andrew Parker, dean of student conduct.

Parker said the handbook has no specific policy for social media, but there are many areas that could be considered and apply to sites like this. One example he gave was that the handbook calls for students to exercise self-control and avoid gossip, slander and vulgarity.

“A lot of times, these websites contain things like that,” said Parker. “Then we have to look at: Is it one time or in general? If it’s general, is it pervasive?”

Sometimes the school will temporarily block a website until officials can further review it, but they end up only permanently blocking one or two per semester. Others are blocked separately by iPrism.

Parker admitted that it’s “virtually impossible for us to control Internet activity to that level.”

He called everyone on campus to just remember to think about what he or she is posting online.

“Civility on the Internet is something we’ve largely lost, because we’ve just become so saturated in it,” said Parker. “It’s funny how we view it as the real world, but at the same time we don’t. And I think that another thing we’re missing a little [is] the culture of Christian accountability we are supposed to apply to our lives, being honest with each other and not ignoring it if we think something is wrong.”

“Just remember the Golden Rule: If you wouldn’t want it posted of you, don’t post it,” said Parker.

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