Guess which is from the 16th Century
Students have always behaved badly. Not all of them and not all of the time but universities have often felt the need to seek to constrain the worst excesses. In 1584 at Oxford University, statutes were approved to prevent disorder among the student body. These regulations also contain references to specific degree requirements including attendance at lectures on Aristotle and an instruction not to play football. (Sylvester, D (1970), Educational Documents, 800-1816, London: Methuen pp151-153.)
These days universities around the world tend to have more comprehensive requirements (but perhaps more supportive of sporting activity). A rather striking devlopment of this has been reported by the Chronicle which notes that Uzbekistan’s Ministry of Higher and Secondary Education has issued a rather thorough ‘code of conduct’ for students, covering such matters as how they should shake hands with professors and the proper time to visit the toilet during classes.
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (quoted by the Chronicle) described the code, “Ethical Rules for Higher Education Institutions,” as an attempt by an authoritarian government to keep its youth population in line:
The ministry is requiring that its pedantic “Ethical Rules for Higher Education Institutions” be signed by every university student and professor in the country.
“These rules are being introduced to form and retain, as well as defend, the ethical integrity of members of higher educational institutions,” the document says. It promises to “prevent the decay of students…and defend them from alcoholism and drug addiction, as well as the threats of religious extremism and mass culture.”
(It’s good to see that someone is still fighting that last battle, particularly after Rutgers University paid Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi of MTV’s “Jersey Shore” $32,000 to lecture its students in March 2011. Snooki got $2,000 more than Toni Morrison, the Nobel Prize-winning author who for $30,000 delivered the keynote address at Rutgers’ commencement ceremony in May 2011.)
Notwithstanding the lofty language of the prologue, many of the new guidelines read like a rather poor joke, the work of ministry officials with an acutely sardonic sense of humor. Article 3.8 stipulates that “members of a higher education institution, when moving, should take the right side. It is recommended to greet each other in the following way: students first greet professors; men first greet women; younger students first greet older students. Shaking hands is excluded from this rule, since elders should reach out to shake first.”
And there’s more:
“It is prohibited to post on the Internet materials that are not in line with national values or related to the internal problems of higher educational institutions,” the rules say, before going on to note that they “categorically ban publishing, saving, or distribution via computers of different materials not related to a higher education institution.”
And just when you thought things could not get any worse: “Don’t walk around a university campus with no reason,” the rulebook advises.
Rather harsh and somewhat backward looking (if indeed true – I haven’t been able to locate the original code which is quoted). And suspect it won’t help their international student recruitment either.