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Taylor's Unwritten Rules

These were passed on to me from a current Taylor student, who for obvious reasons, would like to remain anonymous. He said they were adapted from the book Toxic Churches.

1. be blind, to your own perceptions of reality and the mixed messages you see and hear

2. be quiet, to the abuse that’s going on to protect the school

3. be numb, to your feelings and personal boundaries

4. be good, obey and look perfect at all costs. Never question the authority of the school or its leaders

5. be loyal, to the school above anything else

His opinions on the culture at Taylor are fairly close to mine. Fortunately, most students never get to the level of experiencing this type of stuff.


Taylor trustees refuse to investigate

After realizing that Taylor's attorney might not have been passing my letters on to Taylor, and hearing from sources close to Taylor's Board of Trustees that they were being kept in the dark about my situation -- I sent a detailed letter to the board outlining my experiences at Taylor. In short, I asked them to investigate the conduct of the administration and several employees at the school. They responded in an August 6th, 2004 letter, but deferred to the very people I was asking them to investigate.

More information

My blood (updated)

In April 2002, after months of planning for Youth Conference, I became ill. Really ill. My symptoms (fever, headaches, chills, etc.) started the Friday of the conference and went all weekend, then stretched into another four days. By Sunday I was in bed and pretty much stayed there until I went to the hospital the following Thursday.

Ball Memorial's eventual diagnosis: a bad flu. Taylor's diagnosis: hepatitis. (How this rumor started, I'm unsure.) I was supposed to work at the Echo after leaving the hospital, but was literally knocked out from pain medication. I awoke to answering machine messages from the editor sorry to hear that I contracted hepatitis. She'd later tell me that the entire staff knew.

The next morning, I woke up to my hall director, Tim Taylor, knocking on my door. The health center wanted to see me right away he said - I had to have a blood test. I explained to him that I didn't have hepatitis (and even if I did, it wasn't his business). It didn't matter. I told the nurses at the health center the same thing, but it didn't matter to them either. If I couldn't prove that I wasn't infected, I'd have to leave the university, I was told.

So, they stuck a needle in my arm and took my blood, even amidst my protests.

It wasn't long that the entire student development staff new that I had hepatitis, even though the blood test showed I didn't. It wasn't long before a lot of other students knew, too.

Taylor's lawyer's response after learning this (and a host of other things I need write about)? "No one ... has taken any action to harm you." Chairman of the board of trustees Ken Flanigan (of Christianity Today International) said in an August 6th, 2004 letter that the board "sincerely regrets that you believe your situation has not been handled appropriately." Sources close to the board indicate that Flanigan sent the letter without the full board's knowledge and / or approval.

UPDATE: One thing I forgot to add to this, I walked into counseling that day -- and the first thing my counselor asked about -- my "diagnosis" with hepatitis. I'll give you three guesses as to who told him. It wasn't me.

Taylor agrees to hearing

Last month, I received a letter from Taylor's attorney Michael Blickman from Ice Miller that they would aquiesce to a hearing regarding my education records (not campus crime records). The hearing is for me to present evidence that information contained in my records may be misleading, innacurate or in violation of my privacy rights. A date for the hearing has yet to be decided.


Media Coverage on records access issues

From the Student Press Law Center

From the Chronicle of Higher Education
From the Marion Chronicle-Tribune

Taylor's Obligation

In 1999, I entered Taylor University as a bright-eyed freshman. I graduated 3.5 years later with a degree in journalism, but with a diminished respect for the school and its leaders. I spent my three years on campus (with a semester in DC) working with Taylor World Outreach, Youth Conference, the admissions office, the radio station, the tv station, the Echo -- even in the dinning commons; I devoted myself to the school. In return, they expected my unending, unquestioning loyalty.

When they didn't get it, they called in their high-powered attornies from Ice Miller. The ideals of the Life Together Covenant were tossed out the window and I was treated not as someone who gave tirelessly, but as an enemy. They've decided to handle me by placing a lawyer between us; I've decided to fight their secrecy and law-mongering with the fullest disclosure I can muster.

I will document, to the best of my ability (and willingness to be vulnerable) what I experienced at Taylor and their response to me as I attempt give it meaning. My battle for records access and major concerns for student privacy will be my primary focus.

My goal in regard to Taylor has never been vengeance, but answers. Not punishment, but correction for a school that I love. Not a reprieve for myself, but help for students who may someday deal with the same things I did. My journalism professors once taught me that I have a professional responsibility to hold those in power accountable. When it comes to Taylor, I have a personal responsibility as well.

I'll end with a quote from the LTC. Hopefully Taylor's administration will remember it:

"A community such as ours can be strengthened by speaking the truth to each other with love. Problems in relationships and behavior can be resolved constructively by confronting one another in an appropriate spirit. If the welfare of the one being confronted is paramount and if the confronter is acting in love, the process can produce growth."