Under the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), titled Bruins Engage!, BJU will award transcript credit for many types of Experiential Learning (EXPs), including getting engaged.
Getting ready for a wedding is always an exciting but stressful time of life, so a new pilot program will make sure students receive credit for becoming engaged, just like they get credit for their stressful but unexciting classes.
Bill Lovegrove, a faculty member who helped develop the plan, said students should get EXPs for skills they learn while planning a wedding, such as budgeting, negotiation and interpersonal diplomacy.
However, he acknowledged that the change is really part of BJU’s goal to raise student marriage rates by 50% over the next five years.
“We want the campus to become a flourishing orchard of romance,” said Lovegrove.
While Bruins Engage! will grant EXPs to students who get engaged to other BJU students, cross-college relationships will not be eligible for credit. “It all comes down to quality,” Lovegrove said. “Unfortunately, we simply cannot guarantee the quality of engagements with students from other institutions.”
Beginning next fall, incoming students will be expected to get two EXPs before graduating. For their second EXP, students may complete an internship, practicum or research project, but they cannot receive credit for a second engagement.
“We’ve been asked if a student can get engaged to a different person each summer, and unfortunately the answer is no,” Lovegrove said.
BJU faced pressure to churn out more marriages following complaints from parents of single seniors. One parent, Mary Moore, wrote a letter to the administration last fall complaining that she had sent five of her children to BJU, but none had found a spouse. “I mean, why do you think I’m paying to send my kids to your school?” Moore wrote.
Moore did admit in her letter that one child was dating at the time she wrote. That relationship, however, fell apart during drop/add week this semester.
Other parents voiced similar complaints about BJU’s per-capita engagement rate.
One father, Pence Koelah of Florida, threatened to transfer his children to a college closer to home. Thankfully, Lovegrove dissuaded Koelah by mentioning that BJU students attend local churches, expanding the spousal candidate pool.
Some parents have questioned the limited scope of engagements that fit into the plan. Holly Matremoeny, a mother from Maryland, complained that her daughter’s cross-collegiate engagement didn’t qualify for credit. However, she admitted that she wasn’t a fan of the relationship anyway and hoped the QEP would encourage her daughter to find someone better, from BJU.
Student’s reactions to the new EXP plan have varied widely. Clee Shay Hallmark, a sophomore cinema major, said the change was like a dream come true for her.
“I can see it now: I’m walking with my boyfriend by Omega Lake at sunset, he gets down on one knee, and I become overwhelmed with joy, knowing I’ll get EXP credit!” Hallmark said.
However, Bradley Bragg, a seminary student who said he is called to celibacy, lamented the change. “Why should BJU reward students who get married, but not people like me who are called to celibacy?” Bragg said.
He suggested that BJU could grant him EXP credit for sacrificial service or superior self-control. Lovegrove said the administration is considering his request.