My experience behind the scenes of college life at PCC
As a brand new student at PCC from Canada, I had a very confused idea of what college (or university, as the matter may stand) would be like. When consulting many sources over the internet, one realizes that many people claim the most outrageous and inaccurate things about PCC. As a freshman there, I will tell of my own experience.
Arrival at PCC meant moving in, obtaining my PCC ID card, creating the class schedule, obtaining the necessary textbooks, and familiarizing myself with the campus layout.
The student ID card is basically our permission of life at PCC, giving us access to our dorm, to our meals, to our packaged mail, to the printers, to the washing machines, and to the Sports Center. It also acts as a debit card, with an automatic 5% discount incentive on every purchase.
Pensacola Christian College’s campus is well groomed and contains beautiful facilities. Yet it is also large and requires some getting used to.
Young Tower is the boy’s main dormitory. That is where most of the freshmen stay on campus. It has a large lobby on the bottom floor along with music practice rooms and a small overpriced supplies store called the Gearbox.
Each of the nine floors has a dayroom with a few tables and couches for study along with a vending room, a laundry room, a storage room, and a prayer room. Young Tower is located to the S-E of campus.
Located to the center of campus, the Academic Center, along with the MacKenzee building, is the college’s classroom. It is also contains the Administration offices and the library.
The Four Winds dining hall is open at intervals from 5:45 in the morning to 6:30 in the evening. Yet, breakfast is not available after 8:30 a.m., and lunch begins at 10:45 a.m. and ends promptly at 1:15 p.m. Supper begins at 4:45 except for Wednesdays, where the 6 p.m. meeting brings mealtime forward to 4:15 p.m. Also, Sundays have a shorter breakfast time, a lunchtime that is split in two, and a supper time both before and after the 7 p.m. service.
There are chapel services every morning of the weekday at 10 a.m., mandatory to attend in assigned seating. There are also two Sunday services and one Wednesday night service. Wednesday morning activities vary, with some free periods, and some class meetings or collegian meetings.
The regulations at PCC have made many students rant and deplore. Yet, they are not at all unbearable, and mostly contribute to quality interaction between students and tend to guarantee a clean atmosphere.
Discipline at PCC is largely maintained by the demerits system. Each student has a bank of 100 demerits per semester; each offense committed results in 10, 25, 30 or so demerits. Getting 100 demerits represents being kicked out of college. Nevertheless, faculty does not seek to automatically do so, and bumpdowns in demerits have occurred.
All students are expected to wear clothes without any graphic or logo larger than one’s fist (except for collegian clothes). Jeans and jeans skirts are not permitted in class time, and hair must be the appropriate length and dyed a natural colour.
Until 5 p.m., as well as in the Four Winds dining hall, male students are expected to wear semi-formal shoes (no running shoes), semi-formal pants (no cargo-style or capri), and collared polos or shirts tucked in with a belt. Past that, casual dress allows jeans and sneakers, yet only allows shorts for gym and certain sports.
Female students have more liberty concerning collars and belts, yet must always wear skirts no shorter than the kneecap, may not be sleeveless, wear tight clothes, or expose cleavage. They may wear knee-length shorts or pants for skating and rock climbing in the Sports Center, yet must change their clothes in transit.
Every church service at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Sunday and 7 p.m. Wednesday requires formal ware. For guys, that means polishable shoes, clean pants, shirt and tie, and vest. For girls, that essentially means no jeans and formal shoes.
Most areas are chaperoned in various ways. Chaperones and RA’s ensure that students adhere to rules such as not touching the opposite sex, wearing the appropriate attire, and generally respect the rules.
Chaperones stand in the Crowne Center during chapel to ensure that entering and exiting students are dressed appropriately and do not use their cellphones inside. Either infraction means ten demerits. Update: cell phone use is now disallowed only in the sanctuary itself. Other infractions not proscecuted.
The college only allows student internet through its own server called Eagle’s Nest. Access is monitored and blocks certain website categories like entertainment or streaming. That leads to many quirks that we gradually learned to surmount over the beginning of the semester.
Most notably, YouTube is blocked – probably for data overload reasons. Image search on Google and Bing is also blocked under search engines and portals. Nonetheless, Pinterest has been unblocked as social media such as Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Instagram are generally available. However, blogging sites under domains such as BlogSpot.com and WordPress.com are blocked, which makes updating my blog impossible on campus.
Update November 2017: image search and blogs are now unblocked. This seems to be a permanent purposeful change; categories like blogs are now allowed as well. Lights out has now been cancelled, with the WiFi remaining on all night for the remainder of the semester, to aid in research (late-night study hall, available to students 21-years and older or seniors, also had WiFi cut at 11:15 p.m.)
Certain URL’s are blocked, even on allowed websites, because of student denied keywords. Those would of course include any suggestion to erotic content. One humorous example of this was when the new Prime Minister of Canada did not immediately move into his new residence because it needed renovation. However innocent that piece of news might seem, it was forbidden by Eagle’s Nest because the Canadian Prime Minister lives at 24 Sussex Drive, which unfortunately happens to contain a denied keyword.
One annoying quirk of the WiFi is that many apps do not function properly because their underlying URL’s have been blocked. For that reason, PCC does have rooms reserved for Skype calls.
Update November 2017: the situation has improved, with my being able to obtain a new computer and install Visual Studio with Xamarin, Android Studio for Android development, Unity game engine (a hotspot being needed to sign in), plus Universal Windows Apps without needing to go off campus.
The Drowsy Poet Phenomenon
Working Wi-Fi being the bane of every student who tries to access the internet through Eagle’s Nest, many are led to periodically walk over to The Drowsy Poet café, where they can obtain Wi-Fi after buying a beverage. Many also take a walk to the mall to access free Starbucks Wi-Fi.
There are a total of six residence halls on campus, the girl’s dorms being grouped towards the northwest side of campus, and the boy’s dorms being a little more scattered. My residence for the first semester was the 8th floor of Young Tower, the largest guys’ dormitory on campus.
Access to any dormitory is always monitored by desk worker, and is only possible by the main entrance. Of course, unless they are family, female visitors are not allowed in guys’ dorms, and vice-versa.
Late in / Late out Infractions
For most students, one may awaken only after 5:45 in the morning and must be back inside the building by 10:25 in the evening. Coming in late results in an infraction. Some people obtain late night work passes, but the door is locked early in the morning, being checked by campus security at twenty minute intervals.
Each floor is monitored by work students called RA’s (room advisors). They ensure that everyone is present in his room by 11 p.m. They must also occasionally perform double check to ensure that no one is up past lights out at 11:15 (on Friday and Saturday evenings, lights out is at midnight). Being up late adds an infraction; after 10 infractions, a student must pay $5 for each additional infraction.
During finals, because studying late is considered gaining an unfair advantage, when a student is caught studying late, he receives an automatic zero for cheating on the final for which he was caught studying.
Chapel services are held every weekday morning from 10:05 to 10:45. Every student must be out of his dormitory 10 minutes ahead for chapel. Not being out before 9:55 means a late out infraction. For chapel services, the time ahead is 20 minutes. That means getting out at 9:00 a.m. for Sunday school and being early for church every Sunday and Wednesday evening.
In each residence hall, three or four rooms are assigned a prayer leader (PL) and assistant prayer leader (APL). Every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, those rooms gather for prayer group from 10:30 to 10:45.
Electronics and Media
Although cell phones with data are allowed, hotspots are not. Because world music is not allowed, earbuds are not either. RA’s must therefore seize hundreds of earbuds each semester, to be returned by the semester’s end, resulting in 10 demerits. Movies are not allowed either, although watching clips on YouTube or sporting events is acceptable. Update: headphones are now allowed in the dorm, library, Sports Center, while exercising, and off campus.
Contrary to popular conception off campus, dating between students is strongly encouraged. However, because mixed groups are limited to on-campus activities, unless chaperoned, that may happen in college-sanctioned activities only. One favourite example is Fine Arts, which happens four times per year. Such productions are formal musical and theatrical events in which it is traditional (not required) to invite a date and give small gifts and flowers. Attendance is mandatory, with formal dress required.
Walking about Campus
A certain legend persists that certain sidewalks at PCC are “blue” and others “red”. But it is true that mixed groups (groups consisting of guys and girls) may only be together in certain areas, and not off campus unless on a chaperoned activity or outing. There is a certain sidewalk which goes around the campus buildings, referred to as “the loop” and monitored by chaperones on golf carts, on which couples are encouraged to walk.
At the semester’s end, students leaving campus are required to fill out a form explaining how they will leave, when, and with whom. Under certain conditions, guys and girls may travel together.
My experience at PCC was an agreeable one; I feel comfortable there. The people are generally kind, and I could not only study well but also make quality friends.
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