Bulletin Vol. 7 No. 1 Sep 1970

A federal institution produces tensions, heat, debate . . . its problems appear in the open . . . b u t , if its powers are properly balanced and it has a healthy constitution, it tends to be more flexible, to have more adaptability to change, to last longer, and to be more constantly aware of the needs and wishes of its members. In a day when there is world-wide dissatisfaction with massive, impersonal, centralized universities which care more for their fund-raising, their research and their prestige than for what happens in the class-room to their students . . . we need make no apology for stressing the value of smaller residential communities of scholars mutually stimulated by common purposes and a common life. 1 believe that this will be the wave of the future, and many universities have already read the handwriting on the wall and are taking steps to create smaller units where faculty-student contact is possible. If we think we know why we want a federal university, the next step is for us to think together carefully about the particular type of identity, or spirit, or quality we in Chung Chi wish to preserve. The student unrest in many countries is, in part, against bureaucracy, the establishment, and political alliances of universities and governments. Under the surface, however, much of the dissatisfaction is with soul-less institutions that have little purpose and less relevance; huge efficient machines containing internal voids, with a tremendous disproportion between what students study and the problems they will have to solve and the kind of significant life they wish to live. The real problem is one of purpose, or Jack of significant purpose. Sensitive students, those with critical enquiring minds, want help on routes to follow in achieving a good life and a just life for all. A good student wants understanding, not mere information and skills. What should be unique about a College that calls itself Chung Chi? Not only the number of Christians, the source of finances, the offering of courses in religion, the provision of worship opportunities. No . . . its uniqueness should lie in its informing purpose, the aim that leavens all that it undertakes, the permeating influence of its standard, its spirit, its view-point. In reading a difficult book it would be ideal if we could read it three times: first, rapidly to get the gist of the presentation; second, slowly and carefully, to absorb its full flavour and fill in the details of its logic and development; third, critically and objectively, backing away from the author's position to check our own reaction to it, to let the stimulus of the book start a creative process in us. So, with Chung Chi's three stages of development . . . t h e first ten years seeing the rapid sketching in of the outlines of a college, (the idea, the gist, of Chung Chi taking shape); then the next eight years seeing the slow, careful filling in of the details of a good institution, (the raising of standards, securing of staff, equipment and adequate buildings); now, in 1970, we are at last in a position to look critically and objectively at our product, to back away from it, react to it, let it stimulate new creativity in us. Chung Chi has become an excellent institution in many ways. That is fine. But that doesn't in itself distinguish us from any other excellent university college. It may be that an excellent Christian college should differ from any other kind of excellent college in what it considers to be excellent. A Christian college, I believe, accepts certain basic presuppositions about life . . . which serve as axioms from which its political, social and moral theorems are derived. It, of course, recognizes that alternative systems can be derived from other sets of axioms . . . and that men have freedom of choice. Among the Christian presuppositions I would put the following: that we and the world around us are created; that we are fallen creatures in varying degrees of need, and that redemption or recovery of fullness of life is possible and available. What do these imply? First, that as created beings we should be humble (we're not self-made), should be concerned about why we were created (i.e., the possibility of there being an overall purpose in life), and should recognize that we are dependent, and interdependent (needing each other and interested in all men). Second, that as fallen creatures, we should recognize that we all have faults, that we should be willing to accept criticism, that we are perverse and need a change of heart and direction, and that we need to share with and strengthen each other. Third, that human nature can be changed, apparently hopeless situations redeemed, though not without suffering, that the worst of men are worth saving and can be made into useful citizens. A Christian college is therefore a college filled with hope, looking expectantly at its students and its environment, never cynical or defeatist. Above all, a Christian college is one that seeks first the Kingdom of God . . . that is, does not seek first the career goals of its staff, or its own 一 2 —