Forget about 'sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll' on this campus
Within the mix that is the Elliot Park neighborhood -- low- and middle-income renters, social service providers, refugees and new upscale condo owners -- lies a community of mostly white, conservative, evangelical Christian students: North Central University.
For students, life at North Central is typical college life: students participate in sports, live in dorms, take some classes they love and a few they hate. However, there are a few rules and policies that set this university apart from others.
Being 'A/G' North Central is an Assemblies of God (A/G) Bible college. The Assemblies are a Pentecostal or born-again denomination. They differ from other evangelical groups with their belief that the speaking of tongues is "the initial physical evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit."
Basic student requirements include being Christian (having a personal relationship with Christ) and abstaining from sex outside of marriage, homosexual behavior, pornography, alcohol, tobacco, gambling and dancing. The board of regents, consisting mostly of pastors, directs the school and influences the policies that govern day-to-day student life. For students, these policies set apart North Central from other schools.
1. Dorm-bound Full-time students must live on campus if they are under 23, unless they live with their parents or are married.
After one to three years in a residence hall or dorm, students can typically rent an on-campus, college-owned apartment.
2. "Dorm dating" just four hours per week Opposite-sex visitors are only allowed in dorm rooms Saturdays, 6-10 p.m.
3. ID key card The first thing students grab in the morning is their ID/keycard. Without it, they cannot eat in the cafeteria or get into school buildings.
"It's a safety and security system. Other offices, buildings, complexes Downtown and other college campuses are all going to card access," said Director of Campus Safety and Security Mike Cappelli.
Cappelli said the school has had the system for over a decade. On average, 130 to 200 of the roughly 1,200 cards are lost annually. Replacement cards are $10.
4. Tough skipping At North Central, there is no such thing as an excused absence from a freshman or sophomore, 100- or 200-level class. Miss three weeks, regardless of the reason, and you fail. Individual professors can waive the attendance policies for 300- and 400-level classes. For comparison, at the University of Minnesota, individual instructors set most attendance policies.
5. ChapelREvery school day, students must attend 11-11:50 a.m. chapel. Students crowd in and immediately seek a "chapel checker," who will highlight their name on a list to note their attendance.
Attending chapel is part of "The NCU Way," a voluntary covenant by which all students are expected to live. It usually consists of praise and worship songs led by one of the two official North Central bands, Worship Live or One Accord, a short prayer, a half-hour sermon or message and an altar call for student response.
Students are allowed up to 45 chapel skips per semester, depending on their class status. On any given day, a handful of students "slash and dash" -- they sign in, then leave before service. This is considered a breach of integrity but happens on a regular basis.
Chapel is typically required at most Assembly of God colleges and is also mandatory at Northwestern College in Roseville. However, Bethel College, another Christian school that inspired "The NCU Way," does not require students to attend chapel.
6. Chapel fines Students who overskip chapel are fined $25 for each event over the limit. Sometimes, they're allowed to listen to chapel tapes instead of paying a fine.
In the past, 100 students would typically overskip chapel a semester and be subject to fines, said Student Life Office Manager Christina Smith. But Smith expects fewer students to do this under the new, more flexible scheduling system.
7. Lunch: a brother-sister thing After chapel, students head to the cafeteria for lunch. The young men and women typically sit with other residents of their floor or their "brother-sister floor." Basically, each floor of women is assigned to hang out with a floor of men, and vice versa, for friendship.
Resident Advisor Kyle Chamberlin said while dating the sister or brother floor is not forbidden, it is sometimes discouraged for freshman students.
Sophomore Patrick Abubo met his girlfriend through his sister floor. "I don't know if it was a huge part [of us getting together], but it was one of the starting points to getting introduced," Abubo said.
Until 1998, the school was known as North Central Bible College and jokes abounded of "North Central Bridal College" where students sought "a ring by spring."
8. VCRs, DVD players and "Rs" On a Friday or Saturday night, many North Central students watch videos in their dorm rooms or go out to a theater -- but this was not always the case.
Until this year, North Central prohibited VCRs and DVD players in dorm rooms and on-campus apartments. The school also forbade viewing R-rated films, on or off campus. Students now can have VCRs and DVD players, provided they do not use them to view R- (or, of course, X-) rated movies on campus, and must catch an R-rated film at someone's house or a theater off campus.
"With the increasing availability of media -- from computers to TVs to gaming machines to the theater -- it has become increasingly difficult and often irrelevant to legislate media on an individual basis," said Associate Dean of Leadership Paul Hurckman of the policy change.
9. Curfew -- and selling sausages "Curfew in the residence halls is 1:30 a.m. every day," reads the Student Guide. "Any residence hall student returning to campus after this time must sign in with the Security Office in Miller Hall. Residents (junior or lower) receive an allotted number or late points each semester."
Students who go over their allotted number of late points are usually given one grace point, and, after that, are charged $5 per curfew violation.
"The thinking is, that safety risks increase as the night goes on," said Dean of Residence Life Jake Smith. "A 1:30 a.m. curfew doesn't restrict students from participating in many activities, and the largest portion of our students are not out past 1 a.m., which suggests that the policy isn't too confining."
Senior Eric Gascoigne used to sign in post-curfew under the assumed name of Jimmy Dean, but Student Life caught him in the act on a security camera. According to Gascoigne, under "reasons for being late" he wrote, "out selling sausages."
"I did it because I didn't have any late points, and I thought it'd be funny to see if they could catch me," Gascoigne said.
Rebels aside While college students often test these policies, sophomore Becky Niemeyer said, "For the most part, I think students follow the rules." Niemeyer said she really enjoys being part of the North Central community, "I love the people -- the college experience is all about who you share it with."