People Who Went To Strict, Religious Colleges Are Revealing What It Was Really Like, And I'm Speechless At Some Of These Stories

    "I attended a Catholic University in New York City. There was such a huge divide between the students and the theology faculty. At our commencement, the guest speaker blamed homelessness on women divorcing their husbands. That did not get a warm response from the graduating class."

    We recently asked members of the BuzzFeed Community who attended strict, religious colleges to tell us what it was really like. Here's what they had to say:

    1. "I’m not American, but my university was pretty strictly religious. They’d turn students away at the gate if they showed even a hint of collarbone, even the men. We had to wear collared t-shirts or go back home. They also didn’t let us play cards in public, not even Snap or a kids' game like UNO, because they thought it was 'gambling.' I think I lost more money in confiscated card packs than I did in tuition."

    meme with text, is this gambling?

    2. "Once, one of our seniors — who was set to graduate in a semester — was reported by her roommate. She had been tagged in a picture where she was holding a glass of supposed wine, out celebrating her friend's 21st birthday. She wasn't even dressed provocatively or anything. She was almost expelled, but she fought back and ended up being able to graduate after all."

    drunk character holdig a solo cup

    3. "I went to Brigham Young University. I wasn't Mormon in the beginning, but I still had to follow the rules: no coffee, no tea, and no caffeinated soft drinks. I made the switch to herbal tea with no problem, and I got used to the occasional Postum instead of coffee, but I loved my Coca-Cola. During finals, I found an off-campus store that sold Jolt Cola, which had all the sugar and twice the caffeine — that place saved my life!"

    character saying, i'm gonna have to quit drinking coffee, and i love coffee

    4. "First of all, there was the persistent notion that, as a woman, it was my purpose to get married and have all the babies — if you weren’t at the very LEAST engaged by graduation, there was something wrong with you. They also encouraged us to not wear makeup, because taking any kind of time or joy into your appearance was a sin."

    two characters at graduation looking scared

    5. "I went to a Southern Baptist College. There was a non-traditional student who was an acquaintance of mine; he was about 35 or 40 years old. He got in trouble for drinking a beer while sitting on his front porch, off-campus, at his own house. I think they made him do extra chapels or something."

    6. "There was one transgender woman who came out in the middle of the school year, and campus admin obviously caught wind of it. She was never seen again on campus, but I found her social media years later and she's just living her best life. One of my roommates also silently disappeared with no social media after a year of rooming. I found her years later on social media as well, and she's married with kids. I did some math and figured out she was actually pregnant at the time we were roommates (and not married), which would have been a huge scandal if others had found out. The religious aspect of our school definitely didn't provide a very safe, welcoming space."

    characters sitting together and one saying, there's no such thing as a safe space for everyone

    7. "I went to HBU (Houston Baptist University) and I knew right off the bat that I was NOT going to have the college experience I wanted. HBU is a dry campus, meaning no alcohol could be on the premises, and if you snuck it in and got caught, you'd be expelled. My mom was overjoyed when I got accepted because she wanted me to be closer with my religious side — we were actually Catholic, but she thought it would make a better Catholic."

    group of characters sitting in a circle

    8. "Greek life was forbidden, but they allowed 'households.' A household was a group of men or women that prayed together, went to mass together, and hosted one social event each year (e.g., a Regency ball or a sock hop). You had to agree to go to all of the events and pray a daily set of prayers. We had a staff advisor and a brother or sister household. It was difficult to hold events in the dorms because opposite genders were not allowed in the common areas after 11 p.m. and then we had 'spot checks.' My senior year, a group of guys started a 'service fraternity,' which was modeled after the traditional model, but no girls were allowed."

    frat guys cheering while playing a drinking game

    9. "My cousin was kicked out of a student organization she was in because another student saw her have a glass of wine with dinner. She was 21 and drank it like 30 minutes away from campus (it was a dry university). She also lost her financial aid."

    character in shock

    10. "I went to a private Baptist College. I was raised Baptist and still thought my school's rules were excessive. The worst was visiting hours in the dorms for people of the opposite gender. There was only a small window in the evening where they could visit, they had to sign in at the front desk, and doors had to be kept open at all times. An RA would stop by to 'check in' sometime during the duration of the visit. It was really annoying when my out-of-town boyfriend came to visit. We mostly had to hang out off campus or in common areas until visitation hours, and then we had zero privacy."

    two characters sitting on a bed

    11. "I attended a Catholic university in New York City. There was such a huge divide between the students and the theology faculty. At our commencement, the guest speaker blamed homelessness on women divorcing their husbands. That did not get a warm response from the graduating class."

    close up of someone graduating

    12. "I attended a Baptist college around the advent of Facebook. At the time, only true college students with university emails had access to the platform, so it was fairly private. Someone had a party off campus with drinking. The school had a strict no-drinking policy, along with curfews and several other chastity-geared contracts. A classmate of mine found pictures of the party on Facebook, and they sent the images to a professor to rat us all out. Most of us received 'work hours' to volunteer around campus by way of apology. We all learned a quick lesson: anyone and everyone at any religious institution WILL tell on you out of some deluded sense of piety. It was a challenge to trust any of my 'friends' after that."

    people partying

    13. "Our school only had a Young Republicans Group when I started, so my friend and I started the Young Democrats to piss off our philosophy professor. We were warned by the school that we would likely experience significant backlash and possible threats. So, I became one of the newspaper editors and told them I would publish every threat I received."

    teen with a mischievous smile

    14. "This was the late '70s. I never left the campus. Pants were not allowed, and dresses had to be below the knee. Men and women could not hold hands. Each floor had a floor leader to enforce the rules. You could only listen to approved music. After lights out, no noise was allowed. Everyone ate their meals in cafeteria. Your room was only for sleeping. We had chapel every day along with our classes. I was raised this way, so it seemed normal to me."

    cartoon of an old man speaking to kids

    15. "For context, this was in 2007. The college I attended was a pretty strict Christian college. You had to sign a declaration of faith and a code of conduct. Sex before marriage was forbidden and being LGBTQ wasn't even acknowledged as a possibility. Even if you were 21, drinking alcohol was not allowed while school was actively in session (so any time except for winter or summer break between semesters). Even less major stuff, like having a friend of the opposite sex in your dorm room, was weird — there were only certain days/hours where it was allowed, they had to announce themselves when they walked in the hall, the door had to stay open more than halfway, and everyone had to stay 'vertical.'

    group of teens being lectured

    16. "To be honest, I loved the sex-segregated dorms at my small, religious college because I could walk around in a bathrobe and not worry about my roommate bringing a guy home. I didn't like the mandatory chapel and church attendance. I hated that we had banquets where they would play awesome music that we weren't allowed to dance to. I loved meeting missionary kids who had grown up around the world. I loved that I was one of six English majors and had a lot of small classes. I liked that my campus was pretty calm — no wild parties, big drinking binges, or lots of rowdiness. I hated the body-shaming dress code. It was overall pretty positive, but I don't know if I would do it again."

    three students walking outside

    17. And finally: "It was a dry campus with no co-ed dorms. There was a 'no canoodling' rule. We had to attend chapel a certain number of times. However, if you found a good group of friends, you could get away with anything. 90% of the students had learned how to be sneaky at a young age…strict college rules just made us better at it."

    people at a party

    Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.