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12.09.2004

Moving

Because of various issues with blogger, I've migrated the blog and all its entries to a MT system which now lives at http://tuobligation.fifteen-minutes.net . I'm working on a way to move the haloscan comments there, but it'll take a while. For now, start using the MT comment system.

It requires either a TypeKey identity or you'll have to wait until I can manually approve your comments. If that becomes annoying, I'm not opposed to allowing unregistered comments, it's just that MT blogs get a lot of comment spam and this tends to curb it. We'll play it by ear.

12.08.2004

Chronicle steps up

A new article from the Marion Chronicle-Tribune. It looks like the reporter still did the interviews by phone, but it's better than the last one.

12.07.2004

Nice words from an old friend

There are some friends from Taylor who didn't suddenly stop returning e-mails and phone calls or saying hi to me in the hallways. But we've lost touch anyway, for no good reason. Tara's one. We spent many hours driving back and forth between Taylor and PA -- and even got caught in a tornado and were trapped in the basement of a McDonald's once. I still have her Jewel Christmas CD and thouroughly enjoy it every holiday season. And this was on her blog tonight:

Christian living isn't about covering up past wrongs, but about making them right and moving on to do better in the future. ... which is why I hurt for Justin.
Thanks Tara.

My last tours on campus

This is really long, I know. But, I've been thinking a lot about all the tours I gave. Here's what my last couple tours on campus were like, after everything I went through in my last year there. The blue parts are the things that I didn't say but was of course thinking. This is all from memory, so bare with me if I forget something or screw some facts up.

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Taylor was founded in 1846 as Fort Wayne Female college. A few years later the school began admitting men and then in 1890, the name was changed to Taylor University in the honor of Bishop William Taylor who was a methodist missionary at the time. Three years later, the school moved here to Upland on what was originally only 10 acres. If you look around you, you'll see we've grown to about 270 acres with the main facilities here on about 150 acres. We are one of the oldest evangelical colleges in the nation, but also one of the most modern with nearly half of our facilities built or renovated since 1985. Right beside us is Samuel Moriss Hall, one of the newsest buildings on campus (it was at the time). It was completed in 1998 and houses around 300 guys on four floors.

Inside Morris...
Every residence hall has a lounge open for both guys and girls until about 1 a.m., depending on the hall. Our mailboxes are here at the front desk and we can buy small items like popcorn here, too. The halls are staffed by residence hall directors, all of whom either have a master's degree or are currently pursuing one. I think mine cares about me. The only times he's ever come to my room, though, have been to tell me that I'm in trouble. He rarely talks to me otherwise. And when he does, he's either telling me what to do and why I'm wrong or how I don't open up enough and be vulnerable. A lot of the times I thought he was someone I could trust. But I've learned that he's not one to share information with. He uses it against you. Now, we'll take a look at my old room.

At my room...
Morris is a traditional style hall with rooms lining the hallways and community bathrooms. This is where I live. I've spent hours alone here, crying. Usually, it was because of something that was said to me by the YC Director, or just about me. It was always because of the way I was being treated. You can see that our furniture is stackable, up to three high. The floors are fully carpeted and this is one of three halls on campus that is air conditioned. That's my bed right there. Some days, I just didn't want to get out of it. Somedays, I didn't. I felt worthless, especially during Youth Conference. It was a struggle to want to climb out of bed and I wasn't always up for the fight. We have internet access in our rooms and limited cable provided by the university.

Passing Helena, Ayers, the union.
This is where we started our tour, Helena Memorial Hall. It houses the admissions office on the first floor, the basement is our operations area, where they deal with processing your applications. The President's office is on the top floor. Ayers houses the art department. All students are required to take some kind of art class. This sidewalk is also where I was stopped by my hall director a few days ago. I work with the summer honors program and am supervised by the Swallow Hall director. He wanted to tell me that she said I was doing a great job, and didn't get all the stuff Caryn (the YC Director) had been saying about me the past year. It was bitersweet, because by that time I'd learned to ignore Caryn's lies -- but it just reaffirmed that she spent a lot of time telling people how horrible I was.

The spaceship building over there is the student union, we won't get to see inside of it, but it houses the Grille, a small place to buy food on campus, the Jumping Bean which is a coffee shop, offices for Taylor Student Organization which is the student government, I worked with leadership services in TSO and it's one of my greatest Taylor memories. I've never been part of group that clicked together so well and supported each other so much. The director for TSO is a great guy. I always looked up to him, until he decided he couldn't make eye contact with me anymore. He believed a lot of things Caryn was saying about me, even though he knew me and the work that I did for TSO. It really hurt that he took her words over all the times I'd proven myself as a person of integrity and character. TWO, or Taylor World Outreach, which is a group of student ministries, is also in that building.

I've worked with TWO since I was a freshman. It was one of the first things I ever participated in on campus. But I'm sorry that I did. I gave a lot and only got kicked in the teeth for it -- over and over again. I was warned by more than one person that accepting the position to be the YC co-director was a very, very bad idea -- that very few walked away from the experience unscathed, but I didn't listen. I was really excited about it. But I was treated like dirt there, walked on and abused. I hated myself for accepting that job. It nearly killed me.

Passing Reade...
This is Reade Memorial Liberal Arts Center. It houses the modern language departments, history, education, philosophy and a lot more. Taylor requires quite a few hours of general education so no matter what your major is, you'll probably take some classes in there, like foreign languages, some history, things like that. Also in that building is the ETC, the educational technology center. You'll find a lot of things in there that will help you with the various projects you'll have to do while at Taylor. When I was graduating, I was told I couldn't use my department's video editing equipment to compile a demo reel. It was a new "policy" that nobody knew who'd implemented and hadn't really been applied until I asked to do my work. I'd have to use the ETC's equipment, even though none of it was functioning at the time. I again had to defend myself and assert my rights quite vocally as a student just so I could complete the one tool I needed to begin to look for jobs.

We're on our way to science center, but what I want you to notice first is the bell tower. What I want to point out are the twin spires that are joined at the top by the bell. One spire stands for faith and the other for learning. We're all about the integration of faith and learning here at Taylor, believing that all truth has its source in God, but only when it's convenient for us. When push comes to shove we're quite happy to reject truth, especially when it makes us feel uncomfortable or takes us to places we're not used to. In reality, we're a campus of shiny-happy people trying to hide our brokeness and sin from each other. You'll find a lot of support at Taylor no matter what your chosen field is.

In Nussbaum...
You'll probably take at least one class in this building, likely a lab science. I took general biology and also calculus, for my non lab science. You'll also spend time in the basement taking a basic computer science class.

Here at this end is one of our three lecture halls on campus. This one is the largest and you'll end up here your first year on campus, taking a class called Foundations of Christian Thought. But even though the class is so large, you'll have a smaller discussion group apart from the lecture in another session. The average class size is around 25 and most are a lot smaller, especially your upper level major classes. You become pretty good friends with the people in your major because of that. I did, but they all pretty much turned from me and on me when things got a little rough. They said I took some stuff from my department, but they never asked me about it, approached me or tried to talk through it. They just talked about me behind my back. I didn't take the stuff, but even if I had, I'm still not sure that their response is okay. It's a brutal moment when you first realize people you counted as friends were never really friends in the first place. You feel pretty stupid. You carry those wounds for a long time because they're really slow to heal and color every part of your interaction with other people.

On the way to the library...
Over on this end of campus we have four more residence halls, Grace Olsen and Wengatz housing girls and guys respecitively on three floors. In those halls, students are allowed to build lofts. Directly behind are English and Gerig. Those halls are a little different, they're arranged in suite format with several rooms surrounding a community room. English is an all girl hall and Gerig houses two floors of girls and one floor of guys. Also back there, beside English is the health center. It's generally open 24 hours. They forced me to have a blood test once, even though I'd already seen another doctor at Ball Memorial hospital. I don't know who told them they had to do it, but the nurse said they had to prove I wasn't a health threat and that the results would be shared with student development. I'd already been in there that week, because I had a really bad flu, but they didn't do any tests until student development got involved. Before that, they were content to poor Gatorade down my throat. I told them I'd already had the tests and I wasn't a risk, but it didn't matter.

In the library...
The library houses one of several computer labs on campus so you'll probably spend some time here writing papers. There's a writing center to help you with papers and there's tutoring available if you're having trouble with a class. Down on this floor you'll find a lot of magazines and reference materials, most of the book stacks are upstairs. If there's a book in our catalog that we don't have in the stacks, the library can have it brought in for you from another library.

This is the galleria, there are usually art exhibits here. It's also a pretty active meeting place on campus. In the evenings it'll be filled with groups working on projects or studying together. I used to like to come here in the day when it was really quiet. I needed a place where no one would bother me, where I could sit and look out the windows. Toward the end I used to think a lot about what was happening to me, how depressed I was an how much I hated myself. I'd hear the things that were being said about me over and over again, and I was starting to believe what they were saying.

On the way to the music building...
This is the music building. There's a recital hall and multiple practice rooms. Music groups are open to anyone, not just music majors. I used to play in the symphonic band and have taken a couple semesters of voice lessons. From these maps on the walls, you can see the various places some of the music groups have traveled.

Now, when you step of the tile to the carpet you've entered Rupp Communication Arts Center. This is where I spend most of my time, as I'm a journalism major. I was lucky to come in when I did, because I had several professors with actual experience in the fields they were teaching. They trained me well. But other than that, the departments been a wreck. Funding for the broadcast area is non-existent and the professor's fight amongst themselves about which area of comm arts is the most important. The department's on it's third or fourth chair and there's been absolutely no stability. Classes aren't offered when they're supposed to be because they're having trouble keeping staff (two left partly because of the way they were treated by their peers and the large work load that was put on them). This area has two classrooms and the department office. You'll take at least one class here, probably public speaking or interpersonal communication. Jan Pletcher is the favorite for those classes. And she's always been really nice to me, up until the point that I challenged her and her colleagues. I've had a lot of problems with my internship and they don't seem to want to help or work things through. Their only desire was to present me with lists of things they thought I'd done wrong. She was upset enough with me to ask my counselor to violate privilege.

Up these stairs is Mithcell theater. It has a semi-thrust stage and seats about three hundred people. The school does around 3 productions a year and again, those are open to anyone, not just theater majors. You can see some of the productions we've done in these pictures.

Before we go down the hall I want you to take notice of this professor's office. His schedule is posted outside. We should probably stop at another professor's office, because this one belongs to Dr. Speigel and I've always had a hard time with this part of the tour. He's publicly ridiculed the LTC and reacted poorly when he was called on it. I told him I was disappointed in what he said and he told my hall director that he "feared for his safety." He likes to incite controversy, and was behind a letter that fell into the hands of the Echo criticizing Taylathon, though no one knows that. He didn't write the letter but he had a hand in it getting to us, as I recall. His office number and his home phone number is posted. Almost all of my professors have given out their home phone numbers and encourage us to call them if we need help. They also have regularly scheduled office hours in addition to classes.

This is the broadcast quadrant, it houses offices for the television station and the radio station. I've done a lot of work with both as it's a requirement for my major but again anyone can participate.

Over there is the journalism quadrant. There's a computer lab, two darkrooms and offices for the Echo, the student newspaper and the Illium, Taylor's yearbook. The Echo often finds itself in trouble, as the campus generally doesn't understand what it's function is. They expect it to be a PR vehicle when it's not. There's an illusion of press freedom but it's not guaranteed.

On the way to the chapel...
Over there is the adminstration building. You used to have to go there to register for classes, but now we register online. The process has improved, but it's still painful most of the time. Getting the classes you want is generally a game of chance and trying to graduate is a painful process for most seniors when they hit the auditing process. I've had so many recent registration problems it makes me sick to my stomach to go in that building. Despite Taylor's small size, the registrar is rigid and inflexible. Her goal isn't to help students, but to uphold her policies and maintain control and power. She refuses to admitt any problems with Taylor's registration systems or work through the problems that students run into. The cashier's office is in there and the campus post office is behind it.

One the first floor of the chapel...
This is Rediger Auditorium, before we go upstairs I want to point some things out downhere. The lower level behind us houses student development. I've learned that trusting the people who work there is dangerous at best. Privacy isn't something they respect and they often share things about the students they oversee with each other, even if there's no viable reason.
The counseling center is there as well. Taylor has two licensed counselors who are available to see students for free. It's confidential and a good place to go if you need someone to talk to who'll be understanding. Sort of. The confidential part has been debatable with me. Counseling has been used like a weapon by some of my professors and student development. My counselor's a good guy, and he's really, really tried to help me. But some people at the school continually force him into akward positions and he hasn't always made the best decisions. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to ever trust another counselor the way I once trusted him.

In the chapel...
This is the chapel, we have services here every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. Attendance is required but they don't take attendance and we don't have assigned seats. And the chapel's generally full because everyone wants to come. True there are some students who make a habit of not coming. I've fallen into that trap myself, sometimes. I've found it really hard to worship God with this "community" -- because as much as we preach togetherness I've found that they've meant it for everyone but me. Accountability is only desireable when it focused on others, not ourselves. Reconciliation is a pipe dream and no one really cares that they've hurt someone else. I've defended the LTC time and time again, presented it to hundreds of people just like you but it's meaningless. We toss it out the window real quick when we don't care to apply it to ourselves.

Before you go, I'd like to pray for you and ask God's direction as you go through this process. It may be that God wants you at Taylor and may be he wants you somewhere else, and that's okay. My job isn't to sell Taylor to you, but to present an accurate picture of what my experience at the school's been like. But I've been feeding you half truths for the past hour.

Some perspective

Philip has managed to sum me and Taylor up nicely on his blog. He says:

He repeatedly had very negative experiences at Taylor, to the point where he initiated legal action for several reasons.
That put it in perspective for me. Trying to codify this and watching people who haven't experienced what I have and don't care to understand what I've experienced, has been difficult. Continually being judged over and over and over again wears on a person. It's especially hard when I doubt that if faced with the same experiences and choices, that they wouldn't do the same. It's especially hard when there are alumni and students who feel the need to protect the institution is more imporant than my and many others' well-being, emotionally and spiritually.

I think I really struggled with the idea that I was telling people what happened to me, but that they didn't seem to care. Some chose not to believe what I say. So be it. In a lot of ways, a lot of people the past couple of weeks have only reinforced the idea that Taylor is much more important than I. Their comments and e-mails say as much. They seem to believe that I don't have a right to speak ill of the school. That any anger, outrage, sorrow and pain I have were not only misplaced, but wrong (and my fault). They think I'm propogating some conspiracy theory and launching attacks on their favorite professors.

They refuse to open their eyes.

Taylor is perfect and you're not, they seemed to say. The message hitting me was that we don't care about you, only about Taylor -- and that message hit me hard (harder than I expected).

But Philip, whether he meant to or not, put everything back into a perspective I can handle. I just take some comfort in hearing someone else say it. Repeated negative experiences. Repeated.

A real reporter covers Taylor

Finally, someone who puts the Chronicle-Tribune's coverage of the riot to shame with a thoughtfully executed, well reported article. Kevin O'Conner does the incident and the school justice with his piece (and there's video). My respect for the Chronicle dwindles every day.

12.06.2004

New documents posted

A recent letter (sent today), a few old ones for reference and the PAC documents regarding campus law enforcement:

The "original request" letters above were ignored by the university. We'll see what happens with the last one sent today.

Official words from university relations

Annie received a response tonight from Joyce Woods in University Relations. Here's some of what she said:

"To address your specific concerns, the Dean of Students did mention some acts of breaking and entering in the community unrelated to the campus incidents (the entire town was affected by the power outage). The number of students in the library that night is not confirmed."
She also said that they are "of course, shocked and disappointed" about what happened that night. There's also no transcript available of the campus-wide meeting. She promised to "communicate the facts" as they become available.

(thanks Annie)

12.05.2004

Taylor profs respond with grace and humility

Annie received a good response from a few of her old professors at Taylor. I'm not placing much hope into that transferring into support, but it's great for Annie. It's good that they're talking through things, too. A snippet:

Sorry to learn of your bad experience at Taylor. We always hope each student views his or her Taylor years as some of the very best. Unfortunately, we also know that is not always the case.
When Taylor's administration learned of the things that happened to me (from other people, this was before I started complaining), they called their attorneys and had some of their licensed staff searching for liability insurance. Striking difference.

Over the past few weeks, I've learned a lot. I've learned more about Taylor, more than I thought there was to know. The responses I've received, mostly from students who don't sympathize but empathize is nice. The otherside, students and alumni alike, rears its ugly head at me, as if it were my fault that I've been hurt.

I've lost friends. I remember the day I realized that. True, others had already turned away from me, unable to face the cold. But they weren't friends, I rationalized. Friends would stand by my side. So, it was a sobering blast of arctic air when I realized that if I decided to move forward, to do what I knew in my heart was right, the cost would be extreme.

I was numb one night, after reading the face of a "friend" and coming to understand that because I spoke out we weren't going to be friends anymore. It was somewhat of a brutal revelation. Her coldness, her body language said it all.

It was the body language of a lot of people that I used to call friends that tipped me off in the first place. I never realized how keen my observational skills were until I started picking up such subtle vibes. I never realized how easy it was to see through someone being fake, to detect lies and deceit.

Usually those, "uh-huh" moments in life are good. For several weeks at Taylor -- those moments hit me like a Mack truck. Over and over again. What I experienced in previous semesters at the hands of a few rogue staff I was now experiencing from people who I'd let get close. And I normally don't let people get close.

For a while, I beat myself up over it. Partly, because I couldn't understand their behavior, so clearly, it must be my fault that they all acted the way they did. Partly, because I let my guard down. I put up walls and then created doors for certain people. Taylor was a safe place, after all. That's what people were always telling me.

"What's the point of living in this kind of community if we can't be vulnerable," my hall director told me once. I believed him. I trusted him.

And then I felt like a fool for doing so. I suddenly knew what it was like to be shunned, deserted, and forced into isolation in a place that thrives on "community" and togetherness. I remember returning at J-term to meet a new staff member in residence life. He was nice, cordial -- we talked for a long time. The next day, after talking with my hall director, he wouldn't make eye contact with me. He didn't have enough respect for me to look at me. And he wasn't the first to treat me that way.

Reliving all these memories has proved to be a lot harder than I anticipated. It hurt then, it hurts now. Taylor's response to me, long before I ever made mention of any legal liability hurt a lot. They weren't interested in reconciliation, they were interested in me going away. Every ideal, everything about community and vulnerability that I'd learned the previous years was shattered.

And then, the cycle repeats itself. I get e-mails that are nothing more than hate-filled messages of disgust and contempt. Most alumni don't express solidarity or shock at what happened to me, but rather that I have the "unmitigated gull" to speak ill of Taylor at all. They seek to perpetuate what happened at the school. And they do it well.

I'll continue, as long as I see a benefit to the school. I pride myself on being able to handle the criticism that comes with my job; I let it role easily off my shoulders. But here, it's different. I'm starting to wonder if letting the community wallow in its ignorance wouldn't have been better.

It certainly would've been better for me. But whatever the response I get, I know it's just defensiveness. Taylor breeds some Nazi-like tendency to protect and preserve the institution; God only knows why. They're not lashing out at me for doing what I'm doing, for being disloyal. They're lashing out because the image they've wanted to hold in their minds has been shattered.
I didn't like it when the image was first shattered for me, and I still don't. But I accept it. And I'll do what I can to change it.

Objectivity challenged

"I can be biased on my own blog, just as you are biased on yours."
I've been thinking about that one since I first read it. It was on my mind all through church tonigh (granted, there's always a lot of things on my mind during church, but).

Anyway, that statement bothers me. It bothers me for its uncritical generalization of what I write; for it's tone that I can't help believe was designed to do nothing more than launch an attack; for its defensiveness, coming out of someone who's had enough journalism training to know she should invite dialogue about everything she writes, as opposed to shutting it down; for its insuation that I hold what I write to be objective.

For the most part, I'm telling you first person accounts of what I experienced at Taylor. I'm not a detached observer, but a participant in the events. It's impossible for me to seperate my bias and feelings from most of what I've written here. But I never claimed to. I just assumed that everyone understood that.

But on that note, I try really hard to state what's fact, what's speculation, what's rumor and what's me. I try to be as clear as possible. Sometimes, I've gone out of my way to clarify things so that what I'm saying isn't misconstrued. I've gone out of my way to blatantly state the facts and keep my opinion out as much as possible. I've tried to let people come to their own conclusions. I've responded to every criticism and invited dialogue. I've provided relevant documentation when it's available, I've given stories and opinions of others. I've opened up comments so that no voice is left out. I don't know what else I can do.

All to say, if you can't think critically about what you read -- then you shouldn't be allowed to read in the first place.

What I would do

Okay, if I were covering this story, I'd have a field day with it. Based on Dr. Gyertson's letter, these would be my initial questions. Initial questions. I'd of course talk with students, campus safety, etc. It's not easy to get a real grasp of what occurred based solely on this press release. My questions are in blue.


Early Friday morning December 3, 2004, there were a series of student behavior problems on the Upland campus that exceeded acceptable levels.

What are acceptable levels?

We are addressing these prayerfully and proactively. It appears now that our investigation will result in significant disciplinary action for several of our students.

Who's heading the investigation? You? Student development? The Dean of Students? Campus law enforcement? Outside investigators or other civil authorities? Who will have the final decision on "disciplinary action"?

The purpose of this open letter is to inform all who are a part of our Taylor family of the facts, advise of next steps, affirm the confidence we have in the Taylor student body and ask for prayer as we firmly and redemptively deal with those who have stepped outside the covenant commitments we expect in our Christ-centered community.

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas we prepare for a series of predictable pranks that have become a part of the Taylor holiday tradition across several generations. Usually these are creative but benign involving the hiding of our life size manger scene figures as well as a variety of other activities that become the legends alumni love to rehearse. However, this year the behavior got out of hand and crossed appropriate boundaries.

Has there been a shift in how Taylor feels / responds to these types of incidents? Do they only occur during this time frame? What is the "variety of other activities" that you refer to and how do they compare to what occurred Friday morning? Again, what are the boundaries and how are they communicated to the student body? Who's responsible for communicating the boundaries to the student body?

Early Friday morning the area electrical company shut down power for about four hours to the greater Upland community to do required upgrading. This was announced well in advance. Apparently a series of pranks were planned to coincide with the outage.

How long in advance? Was campus law enforcement / student development aware of what was to occur? Where their any proactive steps taken to limit what occurred? Was law enforcement's response (Campus Safety) proactive or reactionary?

Once the power went out several hundred students poured out of their dorms for some good natured celebration.

Please clarify what was expected to be "good natured celebration." What did the university anticipate these students were going to do?

Unfortunately, as it appears now, we had those who took advantage of this opportunity causing damage to some of our facilities. Among the damage was the vandalizing of the Christmas decorations including the manger scene and those in the Dining Commons, scattering of trash, breaking into the Zondervan Library as well as the Hodson Commons and Ayres Hall. A bookshelf was overturned in Zondervan. A small but unauthorized bonfire was set outside that required the intervention of the fire department.

What was the bonfire set with? Where in the library was the shelf turned over? Was it a large shelf in the stacks or something else? What kind of trash was scattered? Were facilities actually "damaged" or was it just Christmas decorations? When and to what extent has this occurred on campus before? What was the response by student development, campus police on prior incidents? What is the dollar figure for damage? What is the dollar figure for man power to correct the damage? How did the students gain access to the facilities? Was it forced entry or did they have keys?

Additional behavior involved running through women’s residence halls, banging on windows and doors and other activity outside of our accepted standards.

Again, what is the "other activity" and what are the "accepted standards?" Which residence halls? How did they gain access to the residence halls? Was there any physical damage? What windows and doors were banged on?

There were reports of “streaking” by a few male students.

Define streaking -- where they clothed at all? Where did this occur?

In addition we are following up on incidents of serious disrespect expressed when small groups were directly confronted.

Confronted by whom? What would you define as "serious disrespect?"

The event was short-lived with the campus returning to its usual tranquil state by about 3 am. I credit the grace, wisdom and patience of our campus safety and student development professionals as well as the good sense of the majority of our students for bringing all of this to a quick conclusion.

Is two hours "a quick conclusion"? What amount of time would cause you to remove that label? What student development staffers were involved? What incidents did they specifically witness?

In-depth investigations are underway by the Student Development team. We expect that these will conclude in the next several days. Disciplinary action can include fines, restitution, probation and, in more serious cases, suspension and dismissal. While we will handle the process through our internal systems, some of the more extreme behavior, and the level of damage done, may result in criminal charges.

What extreme behavior? How will you decide who gets dealt with internally and who is placed in external justice systems? Will students be allowed to choose? Will they be entitled to representation of their choice throughout the process? What experience does the student development have in "investigations," particularly ones of this magnitude. Will you request the filing of criminal charges or will you allow the DA to determine their appropriateness? What is your investigative process? Who are you questioning? Have witnesses come forward? Will students victimized be allowed to file their own charges with appropriate authorities? What are you doing to assure the accuseds' rights of due process will be upheld?

It is our desire that those responsible will come forward and own up to their behavior. And it is our expectation that anyone who knows who the specific individuals are that caused the most serious problems will assist in the identification of those who choose not to come forward.

Dean of Students Dr. Skip Trudeau and I called a mandatory meeting of the student body Friday evening in Rediger Auditorium to review the facts of what occurred, provide an overview of the next steps and call the community to a time of reflection, prayer, mutual accountability and higher levels of maturity. Several of our campus leaders and faculty were a part of that meeting. I could not be more pleased with the response of the vast majority of those in attendance. Following the meeting several stayed behind to pray and many joined me in a prayer walk around our campus stopping in various places to intercede, repent, and speak blessings over our residence halls, Dining Commons, classrooms and campus safety. The procession ended in a worship time in front of the nativity scene with a wonderful sense of God’s presence and promise.

Reactions, as you might expect, run the gamut of shock, embarrassment, anger and deep disappointment. Nancy and I, along with hundreds of others, grieve over the fact that a small group of immature and irresponsible students chose to try and disrupt the work of Christ in our midst.

What's the actual number of "a small group of immature and irresponsible students?" Are the reports of 200 accurate?

And finally as a follow up, will you provide access to all judiciary proceedings and all campus police reports, including witness statements, radio logs, names of students charged with any wrongdoing and the names of their accusers? How will the outcomes of disciplinary proceedings be announced, and will they commence before Christmas break?


Okay, no need to slam the Echo

If Megan does a good job, I'll be the first to say it. From her blog, she's got the right attitude about the story:

The story is far from over. At the moment, all I have are questions. No answers.
Good for her. Questions are the life blood of journalism. She's also reporting something interesting happening at the library again, this afternoon. But alas, Grant County 911's non-emergency number is un-manned this Sunday afternoon. We'll have to wait until she gets more details. It's probably nothing, fire company's are dispatched to campus all the time for false alarms.

UPDATE: The "fire" in the library was a shorted keyboard that started to smoke. How do keyboards "short out" I wonder?

Chronicle coverage doesn't disappoint

I was being sarcastic. The reporter didn't even talk to any primary sources, (link only active for a few days) but again, parroted back the university's official PR spin (Dr. Gyertson's letter) on the incidents. There's no mention of him looking at any radio dispatch logs, having any contact with students for the story or campus law enforcement at all. This isn't reporting, this is what the Chronicle always does -- lets Taylor write in its papers. Very typical. Taylor has the chronicle wrapped around its little finger (and isn't that reporter a TU grad?). I'm hoping to expect more of the Echo -- but as someone who's been covered by the Echo, well, I'm not getting my hopes up.

The Muncie Star Press has nothing in its paper yet.

12.04.2004

Source says Taylor students "not solely responsible"

A source outside of Taylor but a significant part of the Upland community, speaking on the condition of anonymity, says that they are beginning to identify and question suspects in the incidents mentioned, and that "several persons of interest" in major events are not even Taylor students. Taylor students, the source said, are "not solely responsible" for what basically amounts to "criminal mischief" -- a class B misdemeanor (possible class D felony if great property damage is involved).

None of the reports I've heard seem to leave any room for this possibility -- but from my Taylor experience, "townies" have played a large part in campus mischief, especially during YC and move-in/move-out times.

Taylor students, alumni express shock and awe (updated)

Thanks to Annie for digging up this list. Keep in mind, most of what they're saying is speculation, unconfirmed rumors and information fed to them by people who weren't actually witnesses. Doesn't mean it's not true, just be critical about what you read.

  • This student calls the riot a tragedy.
  • This one believes people need to think about their actions.
  • This guys is "annoyed " about what happened.
  • This one's ashamed.
  • Jen says no one should "disown Taylor" over the riot.
  • This guy was "impressed" with Dr. Gyertson's speech.
  • The reluctant warrior is cynical.
  • "Downright wrong" is this student's conclusion.
  • This one is just, well, he compares the chorale to communist China (smiles)
I'll update the list as more become available. But I will say what no one else is saying -- all of this stuff -- and I mean all of it -- has happened before on Taylor's campus. Those of us who've been there have witnessed it. Taylor doesn't know how to deal with its students, and now they're paying the price for it. One thing seemed to be typical of those posts, though -- an undying support for Taylor and the preservation of its routinely shattered perfect image.

For example, the dinning commons. When I worked as a student manager there Connie and I would stand at the top and watch students steal Christmas decorations. ALL THE TIME. It was a constant nuisance. I had to regularly put out toaster fires that WERE INTENTIONALLY SET.

The nativity scene, not that I ever agreed that this was funny, has always been a target. One year, while walking to breakfast at 7 a.m., I was greeted to a STOLEN Elby's Big Boy statue right in the middle of the nativity scene. It was huge. (Okay, that was funny). Multiple times the stolen pieces were never recovered.

One year, after our sister wing stole something from our floor -- we returned the favor by raiding their wing and throwing confetti and silly string every where. And I mean everywhere (I have video). Granted we weren't naked (at least I wasn't) and the girls took it very well, they even came over the next weekend and stole all of our remote controls.

I myself have been accused of vandalism (that I didn't do), but it does happen on campus. Things stolen from dorm rooms was a common occurence when I was a student. I'd often tell prospectives that most student's don't lock their doors because there was no reason to, while keeping it in the back of my mind that I *always* locked my own door.

My point is, that though by all acounts what happened was over the top and en masse -- this isn't new. What disturbs me most about it all is not what the students did, because I've seen it all happen at Taylor before -- is that what the campus seems most concerned about is that fact that these kids damaged Taylor's reputation.

And no one seems to be asking the pertinent question. Why'd they do it?

UPDATE (11 p.m.)

I've been given this copy of an e-mail from another student. I've yet to get an accurate, *first-hand* account of any of what happened. All the students seem to be filtering back Skip Trudeau's information:
so dr. g opened the meeting, explained how upset he was at what happened, said he had cried this afternoon when he heard, and then he turned it over to skip.
skip had pages and pages of lists of what happened last night: felonies, vandalism, trespassing, etc. it is awful. here is a brief rundown of what i can remember: the nativity scene from behind the library was vandalized, parts stolen, and many parts broken
4-5 homes in the community were broken into. 5 campus buildings were broken into in olson and english guys streaked (yeah, naked) through the floors, tore down shower curtains, stole stuff from a girl's room (while she was there) a fire was set in front of olson for which the fire department had to come the dc was broken into and vandalized: trees stolen, lights broken, chairs scattered, doors damaged, tools stolen ayres was broken into, and the pieces from the nativity scene were found there.
the library was broken into. he said 200 or students were in there. shelves were knocked over, books strewn about, door broken, etc.
campus safety was mocked, threatened, mooned...
the part that made me the saddest was what skip said the police officers said. campus safety apparently asked the local police to stay away and let them handle it, but those police were begging to come. a matthews police officer was heard saying on the scanner that he wanted to come and have a piece of the christian hypocrites.
so basically, the town knows; it will be in the news; the police are upset; student development has to figure out how to work with the breaking of taylor rules and breaking of laws...
it is a mess.
The part that continually strikes me as an issue of concern is the repeated use of the term "felony" -- to hear campus safety put it, they're not law enforcement and as I understand no one at Taylor works for the DA and they're not sitting on a grand jury -- so why is the term "felony" being thrown around so soon?

It's not the place of Taylor or any one there to decide that.

Speaking from experience, that's the kind of thing that ruins a person's reputation and costs them government jobs that require squeaky clean security clearances.

Learning lessons?

Taylor is dealing with some unexpected events early Friday morning with surprising transparency. It's not their style, but perhaps they're starting to learn that there penchant toward secrecy only harms their credibility.

I'm just glad to see I wasn't blamed for anything that happened (sarcasm). Yet. Read Dr. Gyertson's open letter.

UPDATE: I've made some phone calls and there's more to this than meets the eye. I don't have solid details, and since I'm barred from talking with anyone at the University, I'll have some advice later for those who are in a position to ask questions.

12.03.2004

I like quotes a lot

"He who does not have the courage to speak up for his rights cannot earn the respect of others." :: Rene G. Torres

"The fastest way to succeed is to look as if you're playing by somebody else's rules, while quietly playing by your own." :: Michael Konda

"I am a student. Please do not fold, spindle, or mutilate me." :: Slogan of the Free Speech Movement, 1964

"Nothing happens by itself... it all will come your way, once you understand that you have to make it come your way, by your own exertions." :: Ben Stein

"Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph." :: Haile Selassie

"The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it." :: Albert Einstein

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." :: Edmund Burke