Is Principia really the best college you can actually get into?

My Principia College friends on Facebook have been quite proud lately of the fact that their (and my) alma mater ranked very high on a recent ranking of United States colleges in Money magazine. I’m not aware that Money magazine has ever published a ranking of colleges before, so I’ll give them a pass on their naïveté in ranking Principia College as the number one out of a list of 25 best colleges an “average B student” can actually get into.1 This listing is a subset of a greater survey of U.S. colleges by Money magazine in which Principia College ranked 32nd on a list of 665 colleges.2 An admirably high ranking, if this was a list that really mattered. I’m not sure how Principia ranks higher than schools like Middlebury or University of Washington, but who am I to judge? Anyone who is in the know on United States college rankings will really only pay attention to the one that matters: US News and World Report. For their 2014 rankings, Principia College ranks #107 (tied with a couple of others) out of around 250 ranked liberal arts colleges.3 Not bad, actually, but not as good as they got on Money’s list. Money’s overall list (the 665 college list) is a decent effort and they used clearly established criteria to assess who would make the list and where they would rank. Over time, this may become a more prestigious listing. For now, I’ll call it a nice effort. My issue is with the ranking of Principia College as the #1 college an “average B student” can get into. This, my friends, is misleading to those who know little about Principia College, which would be probably 99.999% of the readers of that article. There are a few caveats about Principia College that I believe folks should be well aware of.

Warning: ‘radical reliance’ required

As an early 1990s graduate of Principia College, having attended there for my entire four years of undergraduate study, I know a lot about it–well, to be honest, I know more, in some aspects, of how it was. Some things have changed in 20 years, some things have not. What has not changed, and what anyone reading this ranking must be fully aware of is that Principia College only admits students who are practicing Christian Scientists. What do they mean by this? Well, let me tell you. You must fully and completely rely on Christian Science treatment for all of your health care needs–this is commonly known as ‘radical reliance‘. You are not permitted to take any medication whatsoever; not even antacid tablets, and definitely not aspirin for headaches. No, you must pray about it. That’s all you’re allowed to do. There is an infirmary of sorts called Cox Cottage, which is staffed by Christian Science nurses, but these ‘nurses’ provide no medical treatment at all. They do make a mean milkshake though. The most they will do for you is hand you a Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures and maybe some Christian Science lectures on CD to listen to. As you’re writhing in pain, that’s what you get. Want medication? You’ll be asked to leave. Yes, if you have to undergo medical treatment, you have to at least temporarily withdraw from Principia College. While it won’t go on your record as a suspension, if you’re gone long enough, you have to re-apply. Also, it will needlessly lengthen the time it takes to obtain a degree and either begin a career or start post-graduate study. There’s also community peer pressure to adhere strictly to Christian Science for healing, in addition to the institutional pressure, and that peer pressure is not to be underestimated.

You could literally be taking your life into your hands by going to Principia College. In fact, some have died doing just that due to a disease that is easily preventable by vaccination: measles. Outbreaks happened in 1978, 1980, 1985, 1989, and again in 1994.4 In the 1985 outbreak, three people died due to measles-related complications. Students were given the option to get vaccinated and therefore not be quarantined, but many elected not to. My own experience in Christian Science and Principia culture tells me that many likely bowed to peer pressure to refuse vaccinations. The peer pressure within Christian Science culture is extrenely strong, and overwhelming. Always remember, people die when they go the Christian Science route. Measles is a routinely preventable disease. To their credit, when you click through to the entry on Principia College, Money does mention that Principia only admits those who are Christian Scientists, but I think that caveat should be more prominently featured if they’re going to rank Principia so highly.

Advisory: Moral Conduct Code ahead

It’s also worth noting for the “average B student” that Principia College requires adherence to a rather strict moral code of conduct (by today’s standards). In my years there, that included some restrictions on having guests of the opposite gender in your room. For instance, there was once a policy called the ‘Open Door Policy’ which required that if two individuals of the opposite gender were in the same room, the door had to be open by a specified number of inches. I don’t recall the exact distance the door had to be open, but it was approximately the width of an average shoe. This policy was the administration’s way of trying to ensure that no immoral physical activity was occurring behind closed doors, but we had a work-around for that: we’d prop the door open with a shoe. The shoe was a universal signal that meant “stay out, I want privacy with my (girlfriend/boyfriend)”. We all called it the ‘Shoe In The Door’ policy. It was abolished I recall, around 1989–my sophomore year. ‘House hours’ remained, which prevented members of the opposite gender from visiting each other’s rooms after certain hours, and I believe that there is still some sort of ‘house hours’ to this day. In all honesty, I didn’t mind ‘house hours’, especially one semester when I had a roommate who spend copious amounts of time with his girlfriend in our room. It at least afforded me a guaranteed night of uninterrupted sleep.

Today, however, there still remain a few moral codes of conduct that the “average B student” would find restrictive: no sexual relations between unmarried couples (heterosexual or homosexual), no use of alcohol, no use of recreational drugs, and no use of medication.5 I understand that the previous Code of Conduct included specific prohibitions against any sort of homosexual behaviour whether it was sexual in nature or not. The document I have had access to merely references sexual activity outside of marriage. There has been considerable controversy surrounding previous more explicit prohibitions not only against homosexual sexual activity, but homosexual relationships as well. Even speaking out against the policy was grounds for discipline. I’m not sure where things stand now. Some of the rules regarding gender interactions have relaxed somewhat, others haven’t. The “average B student” and their libido may have some issues with the Community Commitment.

A word about academic matters

I received a good education at Principia College. Uniquely, being a small school, students have unprecedented access to professors at Principia that they wouldn’t otherwise get at a larger college, and certainly not at a large university when at the undergraduate level. My professors were all well-qualified, dedicated, good mentors, and they gave me skills I use well to this day. During my four years there, I established close relationships with many of my professors, and they were mentors and in some cases friends to me. Ironically, this blog is somewhat a product of my education at Principia. I learned how to write effectively while I was there, and I can cite one of my English professors, who was an extremely tough grader for truly teaching me how to write. He has gone on now to be an editor at The Washington Post. My Principia education also taught me to think critically and holistically, a skill that has served me well as I write about Christian Science and my experiences with it, in addition to many other aspects of my life.

Twenty years ago, when I was a student at Principia College, there was still a reasonably decent pool of talented Christian Scientist academics to fill the faculty ranks there. However, as with the general decline in the Christian Science movement, so has gone the pool of talent for Principia College to draw on for its faculty. You see, all faculty as well as staff (except for cafeteria and facilities labourers) at Principia College must be actively practicing Christian Scientists. The fact is, there are not very many qualified Christian Scientists out there, period. Add in to the mix the fact that Principia College does not offer tenure to any faculty, and all faculty and staff are, in fact, on one-year contracts (forget about job security), and the pool of qualified and willing talent gets very, very small. If you’re a qualified academic, you would have to be extremely dedicated to Principia (and a bit crazy, in my opinion) to leave a good job either in the private sector or at another college or university (perhaps that offers tenure, or more than a one-year contract) to go to work at Principia.

More recent Principia College graduates whom I have become acquainted with, have expressed their opinions that many current faculty members are not as well qualified academically as they felt they should be. As I looked through the 2012 – 2013 Principia College Catalog, I noted a few things: about two thirds of the faculty are new since I was a student just 20 years ago, almost all are Principia graduates themselves, and most tellingly, many do not have terminal (PhD) degrees; although they are strongly encouraged to get one. A fellow member of one of the ex-Christian Scientist Facebook groups I’m in has recently noted that Principia (College and the School) have a number of faculty positions open, some having been open for quite some time now. Also, some things like the Writing Center that existed when I was a student to help students with their writing have been eliminated, the task for writing guidance being placed on increasingly overworked regular faculty. For now, Principia College (and the school) is clinging to a reasonable level of academic excellence, but I don’t think they can hold on for much longer unless some fundamental policies change.

Another way to measure academic excellence is how selective a college is in its admissions. Other than the requirement for a student to be a practicing Christian Scientist, the only other qualification appears to be that you be human and have a pulse (even though a pulse is a mortal illusion). The acceptance rate is approximately 87% (see either the Money or U.S. News and World Report rankings). Technically, it’s selective, but in practice it’s not very selective. My high school grades were painfully average (almost at the low end of average), and I got in without a problem. Another concern I have for Principia’s future, and this parallels the issue with finding talented faculty, is that the pool of potential Christian Scientist students is shrinking rapidly as well. Enrollment has decreased since my days, not increased. In my class year (1993), we had 203 students. In the latest year I have seen data for, 2005, that number decreased to 110–nearly a 50% drop! The high-water mark was reached in 1974 with 307 students.6

Parting thoughts

Overall while yes, Principia College is a decent school that indeed an “average B student” can get into, that claim comes with a few big caveats, and I think it’s highly misleading for Principia College to be as prominently ranked as it is by Money magazine without a huge asterisk next to that rating. Not everyone can get in–it is only open to members of a very obscure religion that numbers perhaps 60,000 – 100,000 adherents* worldwide. It draws from a rapidly shrinking pool of faculty and support staff talent, and a disappearing pool of potential students. It never drew from a large pool, so the number of living alumni is small as well, and not all are active supporters of Principia. Its most active alumni supporters are the older classes, who were larger in numbers. This does not bode well for Principia’s sustainability into the future, and therefore its continuing credibility as an educational institution. Without talented faculty, a vibrant student body, and a supportive corps of alumni, a college dies. As one reads Money’s list, and thinks about the #1 “College You Can Actually Get Into”, my advice is buyer beware. The biggest caveat with Principia can be, and has been, a killer.

____________________

My thanks to my friend and fellow ex-Christian Scientist blogger at Kindism for being the source of the link to the Principia Course Catalog used for information in this post. Please visit their blog, and take a look at their own post regarding Principia’s ranking.

Note:

*This is my educated guess as to the number of actively practicing Christian Scientists worldwide. I define that as one who is at least an active member of The Mother Church in good standing. The Mother Church does not publish the numbers of members so it’s impossible to know how many there actually are. My estimate is based on the last known official count of Mother Church members in the United States, from the 1926 United States Census of Religious Bodies, which counted about 200,000 members in the United States. Since then, no count has been released as far as I know, and the numbers of branch churches and Christian Science practitioners has been declining since hitting its peak in the 1940s. I also look at circulation figures for Church periodicals such as the Christian Science Sentinel, which are released annually as per United States Postal Service regulations for bulk mailing permits, and they show a steady decline since the most recent high-water mark in 1999 (53,290) to the most recent figure I’ve seen, which is for 2009: 24,130. However, it’s worth noting that these circulation figures could be misleading and the decline in readership might be overstated due to the fact that the Christian Science Publishing Society has been moving its periodicals to an increasingly digital platform.

Footnotes:

1 “The 25 Best Colleges You Can Actually Get Into.” Money. Time, Inc. n.d. Web. 22 August 2014.

2 “Money’s Best Colleges.” Money. Time Inc. n.d. Web. 22 August 2014.

3 “National Liberal Arts College Rankings.” U.S. News and World Report. n.d. Web. 22 August 2014.

4 “Outbreak of Measles Among Christian Science Students–Missouri and Illinois, 1994.” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 01 July 1994. Web. 22 August 2014.

5 “Principia Community Commitment.” Principia College Catalog 2012 – 2013. Elsah, Illinois: Principia College. 2012. 8 – 9. Print.

6 “‘The Best College You Can Actually Get Into’ is NOT Principia.” Kindism. 14 August 2014. Web. 23 August 2014.

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19 thoughts on “Is Principia really the best college you can actually get into?

  1. When you enrolled in Prin did you have to sign a waiver of your right to sue Prin should anything happen to you?

  2. CS practitioners have been sued by clients for healings-gone-wrong. The Mother Church for the same reasons. Will Principia be next, if someone hasn’t tried to do it already?

    • With the highly esoteric nature of Christian Science practice and healing, I can’t imagine it being easy to successfully sue in court, but I’m no legal expert. I do know that practitioners and the Church have been sued in at least one of the infamous “child cases” from the 1990s, but it wasn’t a malpractice type of suit, rather it was neglect because medical attention wasn’t sought. Malpractice on the part of a practitioner would be virtually impossible to prove in court…after all, it all happens in thought.

    • In more recent years, Prin seems to be fairly proactive about getting people to leave the campus before something bad happens to them (a quarter off for athletic-injury related surgery, being asked to leave b/c of anorexia, are two examples that spring to mind from my time there). With the ambiguous code of conduct it is quite easy to send someone packing and with “confidentiality” no one else really knows what happened (I did speak with the woman about the athletic injury, the anorexia is speculation based on gossip).

      I think the stigma of being known as the CS that sued Prin for failure to act on medical grounds would be a bit too much (as far as I am aware no one sued over the measles outbreak). The external pressure, revered heights, and tone of awe, that many church communities place on Prin (and their attendees) would make it very difficult unless the most egregious infraction had occurred — and even then accidents happen (like the freshman who fell off the bluffs https://ecf.moed.uscourts.gov/documents/opinions/TED_ANDERSON_ET_AL_V_THE_PRINCIPIA_CORP_DBA_PRINCIPIA_COLLEGE-SNL-18.PDF).

      • Indeed, peer pressure, which anyone who’s been in Christian Science for any amount of time will know, is strong. It would probably keep over 90% of potential lawsuits against Prin or other such organizations from ever being brought. With the recent hazing incident at the Prin Upper School, I wonder if that wall will eventually crack. As for suits against practitioners, as I commented earlier, I think malpractice is out (someone can go ahead and try), but how do you provide proof in court on something so esoteric as “prayerful healing”? Successful suits have only been brought regarding neglect, as was in the Lundmann case (in Minnesota, I believe), and I believe that judgment still stands, and the practitioner has had to pay up.

  3. I probably wouldn’t have lasted a semester there as even though I was raised as a CS, I wasn’t really a practicing one (took pain relievers when I had severe monthly pain). I hid this from others which was easy to do. It would be very difficult to do so if you were a student at Principia.

    • They don’t search your personal belongings at the College as apparently they do at the school. I knew a few folks who took meds at the college and got away with it (along with other “non-medicinal” drugs). That said, you had to take steps to not get caught.

      • they search your trash. some student got in trouble because his RC found condoms in his trash. My RC would also randomly barge into people’s rooms. Wouldn’t be surprised if she snooped around when students weren’t there. Not allowing locks on doors serves that purpose.

      • Interesting, MBA, I wasn’t aware of room searches happening when I was there, but on the other hand, I’m not surprised. Prin is full of busybodies who have nothing better to do than stick their noses in other people’s business.

  4. I still practice CS and I am sad that so many people here feel like they were pressured into practising Christian Science against their will just to please their parents. I have clearly told my children that they can decide for themselves and if they are going to rely on CS, they need to be good at it. Yes, there are individuals who heal on a regular basis and lovingly pray for those around them. I actually have seen and experienced many healings myself. My non-CS better half too. Even healings verified by doctors (3 in my family). The teenage kids are “allowed” to go to a doctor if they want but it just hasn’t been necessary other than getting bones set once. They do get checkups because that is what reassures my better half. I don’t want them to “fear” making a choice. I will love them no matter what.
    I never went to Prin and certainly never wanted to because I wanted to decide for myself. Still I have met many nice people who went there so it can’t be all bad.
    As for suits against practitioners, they are much more careful than 20 years ago to make sure a patient knows they can always choose a medical route. No pressure contrary to what you imply.
    I had one ask me once whether I thought I should go to see a specialist doctor. My choice. People always have a choice. Even when you go the medical route you have choices.
    By the way, I knew people who died at my college from treatable diseases and they weren’t even CSers and they had medical treatment. Humans die. That is part of life.

    Wishing you the best. You do write well. 😉

    • Thank you! I wish more Christian Scientists approached their practice as you do. Perhaps more practitioners now do emphasize to clients that they have choices. My experience, and my last one was in 2009, was quite different. When I chose the medical route for my dying father, the practitioner (who as also mine and his Christian Science Teacher) was anything but kind or charitable. He angrily denounced my decision, and stated that I was “betraying my father” (his exact words in quotations). This is a man who teaches classes that consist of a lot of younger people each year. Right at the moment when I needed emotional support the most, he kicked me down in the worst possible way, and to this day remains unapologetic about what he did. That needs to change.

      • Well I am sorry you did not find comfort when you needed it and certainly it does not sound very loving and Christian. You clearly made your decisions based on how much you loved him. I am sure he understood.
        Before my elderly Dad passed, one of my siblings forced him to get treatment that he didn’t want and which did not have any hope of succeeding. He was miserable. He was clear enough to explain lovingly to everyone how he wished to pursue treatment. My sibling let go and respected his wishes, although he remained angry for a long time. Why ? I still don’t understand since there was no medical hope at all. It seems to me that we do need to love our parents enough to let them make their own choices, even when we disagree.
        But you know, even in families where medical treatment is the normal course, there are differences of opinion concerning the options and palliative care. That is why people of all stripes should write living wills. My sister in law, a MD with cancer, was forced by her husband a MD and her father a MD to pursue treatments even when she felt beyond ready to leave this life. Don’t you think that these kind of end-of-life disagreements are not only the result of religious beliefs ?

      • There are many shades to the debate regarding end of life, and ultimately, adults have the right to make their own decisions. Forcing someone to undergo treatment they are either clearly opposed to or have expressed clear opposition to in the past is completely immoral and unethical as far as I’m concerned. If I ever get to a point where treatment would not have a hope of curing me, I would just want to be kept comfortable and let nature take its course.

        My Dad would not have been admitted to the hospital without his consent, however shortly after he was admitted, he suffered a massive stroke which sent him into a permanent state of dementia. From that point forward, I then made all decisions regarding his care. My explicit instructions to the medical staff were that first and foremost, his condition be stabilized, and that he be made as comfortable as possible. If there was no reasonable hope of his physical condition improving, I instructed them to cease treatment, and focus on keeping him stable and comfortable, which is ultimately the course that things followed. It was determined that Dad was suffering from a very advanced case of heart failure, which had gone untreated for at least 5 – 7 years by the doctor’s estimates. He gave no hope of recovery, especially after the stroke. The course of action I followed with Dad’s care was based 100% on conversations I had over the years with him, so I was very clear and knowledgeable regarding his wishes. The doctors were very understanding and supportive. Dad died peacefully and comfortably in the hospital one month after he was admitted, where he received extremely good care at the hands of doctors and nurses who genuinely wanted to make him at least as comfortable as possible. He was rarely in pain, and daily received visits not only from me, but from at various times almost the entire membership of his branch church, all of whom were very supportive of the course of action I took regarding his care. These people were genuine, caring human beings, and the kind of people Christian Scientists should be. Dad and I never lacked for any kind of support we needed.

        By contrast, my mother died earlier the same year in a Christian Science nursing facility. She had a tumour the size of a basketball growing in her abdomen, and she appeared to be in excruciating pain. Although I never saw her (she died the day I made flight reservations to come and see her), I talked to her on the phone daily, and often she struggled to even speak. There were occasions where she did express that she was in pain. My cousin visited her daily, and reported that she appeared to be extremely uncomfortable and in pain. In Christian Science nursing facilities, not even the most basic pain abatement medication is permitted, you have to leave the facility if you wish to have it. I think that is cruel and heartless. Also, the nursing staff filled Dad and I with glowing stories of Mom’s “progress”, all of which turned out to be complete hogwash. They told of her “dancing in the hall” one night! According to my cousin, in her latter days, she could barely sit up in bed! Some Christian Scientists seem to live in an alternate reality. The only progress Mom was making was towards the grave.

        Historically, neither of my parents had ever been adamantly opposed to medical treatment if it promised relief. However, after my Dad took Class Instruction (I took it from the same Teacher), and Mom began attending his/mine Association, they became very radicalized in Christian Science. I firmly maintain this is due to the influence of the Teacher, who is very radical in his stance regarding Christian Science treatment over any other. I was not as strongly influenced as my parents were. As evidence of how strong his influence was, especially over Dad, I remember one time Dad and I were talking about the archaeological historicity of the Bible (a topic of deep interest to him), and while he usually always leaned towards looking for historical proof of what’s in the Bible, I remember him distinctly saying, that our Teacher felt differently, and he began to change his own opinion based on that. That is something he almost never would have done in the past. He was always an extremely independent thinker, rarely allowing his opinions to be framed by someone else’s.

        I will always maintain that radical reliance on Christian Science is akin to playing Russian Roulette with your life and health. My parents did that and paid the price. I will not do the same. No, medical science does not cure everything, but unlike Christian Science, it does not claim to. Christian Science does claim to “heal the sick”. I have never seen it do that in my experience. I never cease to be amazed at how fast pain goes away with an ibuprofen when in the past, I would suffer, praying in vain for a healing that never came, only the passage of time and my body’s natural ability to heal itself ultimately bringing relief. Earlier this year, antibiotics successfully treated a severe infection in my foot that may have otherwise caused permanent damage, or occasioned the amputation of the foot if left untreated. I’m glad I no longer fly without a net.

      • There is a difference between treatment and palliative care. No one should be forced into treatments they don’t want, however, no one should be denied palliative care to make their final months/weeks/days more comfortable. Christian Science nursing facilities rely solely on prayer and rearranging bed pillows, which is not enough.

  5. I take strong issue with the above comment in the article that Principia is a killer. This statement is uninformed, not comparing the mortality rate in other schools. In fact, Principia’s moral code is the very reason why it is probably the safest schools for college students in the U.S.

    A 2013 study of over 250 4-year colleges shows that over 2,400 students died while attending colleges and universities in the U.S. (10.8 per 100k students) The top causes (besides personal injury): suicide (25%), alcohol (20%) and homicide (2%%). These causes are basically not present at Principia where the overwhelming majority of students do not drink and have a very strong loving community support. Another recent statistic causes ponder: Medical errors are now the third leading cause of death in United States.

    As a parent with some of my children choosing to attend Principia and some other colleges and university, I always felt Principia was by far the safest and healthiest environment for my children. Two of my children attended at top 50 college on the East Coast and reported in just 3 years over 20 incidence of drug and alcohol overdose emergency trips to the hospital resulting in 2 deaths at their school. In their college there is rampant abuse and addiction to binge drinking, marijuana, cocaine and sexual behaviors by their fellow students creating an atmosphere where it has been difficult for them to find quiet paces to study and even less opportunities to find friends. All sorority and fraternity houses centered around partying with heavy drinking. Many students cheated on their tests to get ahead. The college, for fear of liability, ironically closes an eye to all these behaviors in their boarding housing pointing students to the local police. They both experience tremendous pressure from other students to drink and party in other to be included or accepted in various clubs and groups.

    Principia is is a one of a kind college in the world. It was founded by Christian Scientist and for Christian Scientists and remains so today. It is the only high education school where a Christian Scientist can go a high quality education in an environment where students share common values and do not have to face peer pressure on drinking, drugs and sex.

    More importantly it is one of the last college that still focusses on character education: something sadly extinct in top ivy league schools that were founded on character education principles. It is a place where students actively discuss issues the values of moral character in life. They openly and couragiously discuss civility, abuses and behavior that impact the college community negatively. Looking at my own children, Principia has provided something rare today: a moral compass they can use to understand the line between right and wrong and why it is so. When I ask about character education at the other colleges and private schools my children have attended, the principals and presidents look at me puzzled not understanding my question.

    Winsten Churchill wisely said “The first duty of the university is to teach wisdom, not a trade; character, not technicalities. We want a lot of engineers in the modern world, but we do not want a world of engineers.”

    We are starting to see the results of abandon of character education in increasing lack of civility as manifest in public discourse starting with our presidential election process. Aggressive behavior, exemplified in physical assault at work in schools is increasing as a result. We should not be surprised by this if we realized that in our own universities, civil behavior and discourse is fading away. Principia is one of the last bastion of education where civility prevails.

    To be sure, if a student or their parents want to attend a school that provides medical support, Principia is not the school for you. Many parents want their children to enjoy the benefits fo the core character values and genuine sense of care offered by Principia but object to the stricter demands of the school values and want to see them changed or banned. Most other Christian Scientist schools have given up on these values as result of non-scientist parental pressure and financial pressures. And today, these school look alike most others with that character education that attracted parents in the first place is fading away. Principia’s founding bi-laws wisely prohibits it to change. It is standing firm as one of the very last schools that take character education seriously putting front and center every day alongside academic and athletic education.

    There are plenty of colleges for people who are not Christian Scientists to attend. Let Principia stand for what it is: a school for Christian Scientists and will continue to be so for years to come.

    If you are not a Christian Scientist or a former Christian Scientist, before you take cheap shots at this unique school, look around at what is happening elsewhere and look at the facts. Look at the fact that majority of people who love being around Principia students, the businesses who love hiring Principia graduates, society benefits from having Principia graduates. Look at Principia students contributions towards civility discourse, mediation, tolerance and moral leadership.

    • I’ll agree that compared to many other colleges, Principia is relatively safe, although rape and other forms of assault are not unknown there. However, I do take issue with your opening statement that my opinion of Principia as a ‘killer’ choice is uninformed. While I’ll go so far as to say that maybe I’m using rather strong language, attendance at Prin was a killer to the students who died during the 1985 measles outbreak. They (thanks to Christian Science) were unvaccinated, and among a population that was largely unvaccinated (credit again to Christian Science). An infected student in that mix was like a bull in the china shop. Also, I’ll point you to an academic study comparing morbidity rates between Principia and a similar-sized liberal arts college where the student population is not required to practice radical reliance on Christian Science (hint: it doesn’t look good for Christian Science or Principia): http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00015022.htm

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