Shorter University’s enrollment has declined by 7 percent from last year. An expert on religion and higher education says universities which require faculty to sign a lifestyle statement are putting their bottom line at risk.
The Christian university in Rome, Georgia last year began requiring faculty and staff to sign a faith and lifestyle statement. It says employees must find premarital sex, adultery and homosexuality unacceptable. University employees are also forbidden to drink alcohol in public.
Opponents of the policy say as many as 84 staff members left Shorter, and some students vowed not to return.
Darren Sherkat, a sociology professor at Southern Illinois University Carbondale who has written extensively on religion and higher education, says small religious schools like Shorter may risk going out of business by requiring such statements.
He says “A slight shift in the number of students who are choosing to go there is going to have a profound effect on their
Sherkat says many fundamentalist Christian students are finding public universities more attractive.
“There’s a more serious attention to quiet hours because universities want to make sure students are studying so they
don’t fail out. So the party image that prevailed at secular universities, which turned off many religious conservatives, is no longer as much of a problem.” he says.
University President Don Dowless says this year's enrollment is down 115 students from last year but he says this is the third consecutive year Shorter has enrolled more than 1,500 students.
He says the school has welcomed many new faculty and students who were attracted to Shorter by its commitment to offering a Christ-centered education.