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12.07.2004

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.