By the Handbook: 9 Unusual College Policies


When incoming freshmen head to college ready to have some fun before classes start, they often run up against a boring enemy: hours of tedious explanation of various school rules and policies. Yes, these orientation sessions may be a chore to sit through, but it could be so much worse. Your school could have one of these odd policies:

1. Every Day is Business Casual Day

Starting in 2007, Paul Quinn College in Dallas has required students to be dressed in business casual attire from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. if they want to attend classes or eat in the school's dining halls. While a dress code isn't all that strange, Paul Quinn's punishment for breaking it is unique. The first violation results in community service. The second violation earns a student a spot in the President's Running Club. College president Michael Sorrell shows up at students' rooms early on Saturday morning and forces violators to go jogging with him. Suddenly wearing a pair of khakis doesn't sound so bad.

2. No Beard Without a Doctor's Note

Brigham Young
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

If you're a male student at Brigham Young, you're going to need a doctor's note before you grow a beard. The school's honor code includes a section on grooming, but if a student has a skin condition that would make shaving painful or impossible, he can get a doctor's note and qualify for a "beard exception" that's good for one year. The oddest thing about this rule is that Brigham Young himself often sported a flowing white beard.

3. No Extra Studying (Also: No Booger-Wiping)

Don't like studying? Then Pensacola Christian College might be for you. According to the Student Voice, an unofficial site run by PCC students, "extra studying during exams" is strictly prohibited. Before you think Pensacola Christian is a slacker's delight, though, the site also lists the following prohibited items and actions: local calls over 30 minutes, singing too loudly at prayer group, singing in the shower during quiet hours, and, of course, this little gem: "You may not wipe "˜boogers' on the wall. This is being cracked down on."

4. No Wikipedia


In 2007, the history department at Middlebury College banned students from citing Wikipedia as a source in papers or exams. Professors in the department grew tired of seeing incorrect information pop up on exams and assignments only to have students say that they got the "facts" from the collaboratively edited online encyclopedia.

While it's perfectly reasonable for an academic institution to expect its students to get their facts from verified sources "“ even enthusiastic Wikipedia junkies must admit there are errors on the site "“ the new policy became national news. The New York Times ran a story on the policy, and some students grumbled that the new rule was tantamount to censorship. Some professors, though, embraced the controversy in an interesting way by turning "Write an accurate Wikipedia entry" into a class assignment.

5. No Occult Practices

There will be no ritualistic killing of goats at Kentucky's Asbury University. The Christian liberal arts college has fairly strict policies about the usual suspects for religious schools: drinking, swearing, gossip, etc. However, its student handbook also explicitly forbids "occult practices." At least students won't be able to get ideas for occult practices from watching horror movies; campus policy bans R-rated movies as well.

6. No Jazz

Something's telling us the band at Bob Jones University isn't packed with improvisational jazz talent. The religious South Carolina school bans jazz, rap, rock, and country music "as well as religious music that borrows from these styles." If you thought Asbury's policy on R-rated movies was tough, check out this passage for Bob Jones' residence hall policies: "Residence hall students may not watch videos above a G rating when visiting homes in town and may not attend movie theaters."

Don't think you can't have any fun at Bob Jones University, though. You can still bring your handgun! The school promotes responsible firearm ownership, though. From the same residence hall policy page: "All weapons brought to campus must be turned in for storage. Trigger locks are required for pistols."

7. No Democrats

In 2009, students at conservative Christian Liberty University formed a chapter of the College Democrats and even briefly earned recognition as a legitimate campus group. When higher administrators caught wind of the organization, though, they quickly moved to ban the College Democrats from campus because the party "supports abortion, socialism and the agenda of gay, bisexual and transgender people."

8. No Beer Pong

beer pong

You're allowed to drink at Pitzer College, but you'd better not turn that boozing into a competitive event. The school's paper, The Claremont Port Side, reported last weekend that the administration has banned drinking games for the upcoming academic year. According to the story, the student handbook contains a passage that reads, "Games that are centered on alcohol, focus on drinking large quantities of alcohol or promote irresponsible drinking are prohibited. Any devices or paraphernalia which aid in these games may be confiscated and will not be returned. These devices include, but are not limited to beer pong or "'Beirut' tables and beer bongs or funnels."

Sounds like a reasonable policy that would be tricky to enforce. At what point does ownership of Solo cups or a Ping-Pong table start to exhibit the intent to play Beirut?

9. No Dogs

Since 1922 Lafayette has banned dogs from its classes. On April 7, 1922, The New York Times contained a brief item that reported that Lafayette students were no longer allowed to bring their pooches to class or chapel exercises. The final sentence of the story simply read, "Dogs have always been permitted in classes, but of late their presence has caused much annoyance."

Archaeologists Uncover Infant Remains Wearing Skulls of Older Children

© Sara Juengst
© Sara Juengst

Archaeologists in Salango, Ecuador, recently uncovered two infant skeletons buried with "helmets" made from the skulls of older children, Gizmodo reports.

The discovery is the first of its kind, researchers write in a paper published in the journal Latin American Antiquity. To date, the Salango discovery presents the only known evidence of ancient people using juvenile skulls as burial headgear.

The two burial mounds where the skeletons were uncovered date back to about 100 BCE. It's likely that the skull "helmets" were cut and fitted to the infants' heads while the former were "still fleshed," the researchers write. One infant, estimated to be about 18 months old at the time of death, wears the skull of a child between 4 and 12 years old. The “helmet” was positioned so that the wearer looked “through and out of the cranial vault,” the paper reports (the cranial vault is the area of the skull where the brain is stored). The second infant, which was between 6 and 9 months old at death, is fitted with the skull of a child between 2 and 12 years old.

Images of infant skeletons covered with the bones of older children found in Ecuador
© Sara Juengst

But why? The archaeologists involved in the discovery aren’t totally sure. Ash found near the burial site suggests that a volcano may have impeded agriculture, leading to malnourishment and starvation. The skull helmets could have been an effort to offer the infants additional protection beyond the grave. It’s also possible, though unlikely, that the children could have been sacrificed in a ritual to protect the community from natural disasters. That’s less probable, though; none of the bones show any evidence of trauma, but they did show signs of anemia, suggesting that all four children were sick at their time of death. Researchers hope DNA and isotope analyses can offer more information on the discovery.

Whatever the reason is, it’s important not to judge with modern eyes, lead author Sara Juengst told Gizmodo. “Our conception of death is based in our modern medical, religious, and philosophical views,” she said. “We need to think about things in their own context as much as possible and try to keep our own prejudices or ideas about 'right/wrong' out of the analysis.”

[h/t Gizmodo]

Maine Man Catches a Rare Cotton Candy Lobster—For the Second Time

RnDmS/iStock via Getty Images
RnDmS/iStock via Getty Images

Just three months after a cotton candy lobster was caught off the coast of Maine, another Maine resident has reeled in one of the rare, colorful creatures.

Kim Hartley told WMTW that her husband caught the cotton candy lobster off Cape Rosier in Penobscot Bay—and it’s not his first time. Four years ago, he caught another one, which he donated to an aquarium in Connecticut. While the Hartleys decide what to do with their pretty new foster pet, it’s relaxing in a crate on land.

Though the chances of finding a cotton candy lobster are supposedly one in 100 million, Maine seems to be crawling with the polychromatic crustaceans. Lucky the lobster gained quite a cult following on social media after being caught near Canada’s Grand Manan Island (close to the Canada-Maine border) last summer, and Portland restaurant Scales came across one during the same season. You can see a video of the discovery in Maine from last August below:

According to National Geographic, these lobsters’ cotton candy-colored shells could be the result of a genetic mutation, or they could be related to what they’re eating. Lobsters get their usual greenish-blue hue when crustacyanin—a protein they produce—combines with astaxanthin, a bright red carotenoid found in their diet. But if the lobsters aren’t eating their usual astaxanthin-rich fare like crabs and shrimp, the lack of pigment could give them a pastel appearance. It’s possible that the cotton candy lobsters have been relying on fishermen’s bait as their main food source, rather than finding their own.

While these vibrant specimens may look more beautiful than their dull-shelled relatives, even regular lobsters are cooler than you think—find out 25 fascinating facts about them here.

[h/t WMTW]