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11.26.2004

Grant County Sheriff's Office = Taylor Office of Campus Safety


Grant County Sherrif's Deputies

  • Can carry weapons
  • Can make arrests
  • Have limited jurisdiction
  • Wear police style uniforms
  • Enforce the laws of the State of Indiana
  • Investigate crimes
  • Exercise an executive power of the state
  • Drive police style vehicles
  • Create incident reports
  • Public can access their records

Taylor Campus Safety Officers

  • Can carry weapons
  • Can make arrests
  • Have limited jurisdiction
  • Wear police style uniforms
  • Enforce the laws of the State of Indiana
  • Investigate crimes
  • Exercise an executive power of the state
  • Drive police style vehicles
  • Create incident reports
  • Public CAN'T access their records

11.23.2004

Macon Telegraph agrees

This is old, but I just found it in the Macon Telegraph: Private police powers need public scrutiny.

Clarification: After Taylor

Here's my best recollection o fthe things that happened after Taylor. After learning about this, and this and the extent to which such things ocurred, I used the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act to request records from several people on Taylor's campus. This was July 2003.

I also at the same time, requested police reports from the Office of Campus Safety, under Indiana's Access to Public Records Act. Taylor released the e-mails, but denied the request for police records. I filed a complaint with the Pubilc Access Counselor asking for an advisory opinion. His opinion was that no legal violation ocurred. But he was wrong, and his opinion has no legal force. The issue of records access is ongoing.

I made several other request for access to more of my education records, which Taylor ignored. I made request for access to the campus police log, under the Clery act, which Taylor ignored. I wrote letters informing the administration of the things I've detailed on this blog, I was ignored. I demonstrated that I was legally entitled to inspect Taylor's comprehensive evaluation by the NCA, and instead they passed off to me a statement of affiliation (and probably believe I've been fooled into thinking they complied with the law).

I've made two requests to access my counseling center files, as I'm entitled to under the law, and Taylor has ignored both. I requested medical files from the health center, and I've been ignored. Gaining access to these particular records is an ongoing issue, as well.

I've requested to speak with people on campus regarding the incidents I've described, specifically Bob Neideck. My request has been ignored.

In light of all this, and their desire to fight me on accessing information at every possible turn, I threatened to file a lawsuit -- in hopes that I would not only gain information but that they would stop ignoring me and attempt to work this through. They refused any attempt at settlement and barred me from contact with the university and issued a criminal trespass order to keep me off the campus.

A year after requesting the initial records, I sent a letter to the trustees. Through my research, I discovered that the trustees were generally not only unaware of what happened to me, but that I had ever threatened to sue. In my letter, I asked them to investigate -- but they refused.

As a last resort, I requested a hearing under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, and that's where we stand today.

Clarification: Registration

This started about the time that the YC ordeal was ending. Registration, as I recall, occurred by May 1st for the follwing Fall. At any rate, I needed to register one class for the summer and one internship for that fall.

When I went to register, I was told that I could register for the summer class, but that I couldn't register for my fall internship until I actually secured a letter of emloyment. I told them that most employers were just now finalizing there summer internships, and they wouldn't be dealing with the fall until probably later July -- August. I was told that would be fine, I could come in and register any time.

July of that year, I receive an e-mail from the registrar, saying that since I hadn't registered for the Fall, my status as a student was cancelled. I immediately contacted them, but was told there was nothing they could do. I would have to go through a re-admitt process to register, once I secured an internship.

No amount of logic in this situation would prevail. This was *the policy* and at a school as "big" as Taylor there could be no exceptions. I hadn't been this dumbfounded by such nonsense before. It was literally a perplexing situation to me. Their rules prevented me from registering, but I was being punished for not following their other rules (which I couldn't). I don't know why I expected any logical discourse or for Taylor to work through the situation with me.

Next on the list was the situation with Donna Downs, which I detail here.

Clarification: Youth Conference

I'm going to try and give a general overview of everything I've dealt with in regard to Taylor. Some, especially those on the outside are having difficulty following all the sordid details. So, here are some significant events about Youth Conference (remeber, this is a bare bones account, more info here):

  • Fall 1999, I start as a freshmen at Taylor.
  • Spring 2001, I'm chosen as one of two student co-directors for Youth Conference. I'll work directly under Caryn Grimstead (conference co-director, Gerig Hall Director) with another student. We all report on some level to Mary Rayburn (Director of TWO).
  • Spring 2001, I made two visits to the counseling center, to talk about personal issues (that I have not and won't disclose) completely unrelated to Taylor.
  • Fall of 2001, we begin to plan for Youth Conference. An area of trouble is an informational borchure for the campus.
  • September 2001, I return to the counseling center, again, for reasons unrelated to Taylor. The counseling center has a brand new director, Bob Neideck. I begin talking with him on a weekly basis.
  • Thanksgiving 2001, the goal to have the YC brochure completed and mailed. It doesn't happen, but neither my co-director nor I are directly responsible for seeing that it should've. The responsibility fail to other students, who were having difficulty getting it completed. At any rate, the "deadline" (though it was never actually set), passed without a word from Mary Rayburn or Caryn Grimstead.
  • Finals Week, December 2001, I finally see a computer draft of the brochure design (after asking for several weeks). It's not ready, and still being students -- we decide we'd sacrifice quality if we try to push it. We agree that will hit it hard immediately after Christmas break.
  • Fall 2001, I'm approached by at least one friend on campus who said that Caryn had been pressuring her into talking about details in my personal life. Bob Neideck would tell me several times that Caryn would ask about me. Now, I was battling depression, and it was becoming harder to mask -- I don't deny that. But I created very clear boundaries in regard to my personal life that I didn't want Caryn to cross -- she ignored them.
  • Thursday of finals week, December 2001, after the faculty Christmas banquet. I come back to my room to find multiple answering machine messages from Caryn Grimstead about the brochure. She would later accuse me of not answering my phone and hiding from her in my room. In short, they're not happy that the brochure was not completed at Thanksgiving (though they knew for several weeks that it wasn't). My co-director said she was told by Caryn that it was all our fault, and the conference was now doomed because of this brochure. They waited until the absolute last minute to say anything -- too late for anything to be done.
  • The same night, I received bad news about a friend. Dealing with YC was the last thing on my mind (especially since nothing could be done by then). Caryn Grimstead, somewhere close to 11 p.m., midnight, shows up at my door completely unannounced -- on an all guy floor. I tell her it's not a good time to talk, try to shut the door, but she blocks it. She says, without asking, "You need to talk to Bob" and leaves to call him. A while later, Bob Neideck shows up at my door and we talk through some things. He tries to do damage control re: the brochure to little avail.
  • Christmas break, 2001, my co-director and I recieve numerous e-mails. The general jist of them, almost all from Caryn Grimstead, is that we had failed the conference, Caryn would lose her job as conference Director because of our mistakes, etc. Eventually, we bothed stopped reading the e-mails. They were emotionally and spiritually manipulative. My general response to Caryn was that she had three weeks to tell us there was a problem, and didn't. My guess was that Mary Rayburn came down on her at the Christmas banquet -- so she in turn came down on us. I wasn't willing to accept total blame and Caryn didn't like being challenged.
  • January 2002, I return to campus early and make arrangements to stay with a friend in Indianapolis to see that the brochure is completed as soon as possible. My co-director stayed behind most of Christmas break to do the same.
  • Sometime in January, my co-director and I are called to seperate meetings with Caryn, in her office. In my meeting, I was presented with nearly a two-page list of everything I had done wrong during the past semester in regard to YC. I walked out of that meeting feeling as if I weren't worth the ground I was walking on. My co-director had a similar meeting. We were told we hadn't been doing our jobs, and Caryn questioned whether we really could or even wanted to.
  • Later in January, we are called to a meeting with Caryn and Mary Rayburn. My co-director and I requested Mary's help to resolve everything. It didn't work. I confronted Caryn about digging into my personal life (something she'd been doing for a while, I gathered). She reacted poorly to it. I told her it was a violation. She wouldn't accept that. After several minutes of me telling her she needed to back-off, she aquiesced, and apologized for making me feel that way.
  • The spring of 2002, multiple incidents occur. Too many to detail here, but I will in seperate posts later. Needless to say, my relationship with Caryn was tenuous, and I believe my co-director's was as well. Multiple times people on campus would come to me, and tell me that things that she said about me. I was constantly challenged and chided for everything I did do and everything I didn't do for the conference. At one point, I was disciplined for opening the conference mail, mail addressed to me. Though they never told me what I "did wrong" -- I had to find out from my assistant. I was just yelled at for some anonymous offense that they wouldn't explain to me. Things like that happened over and over and over and over and over again, for several months.
  • Sometime in February / March 2002, I ask one of Caryn's former PA's what she thought of working with Caryn. A very bubbly person, she became uncharicteristically quiet and said, "I hated her and I hated Taylor because of her." She explained to me that Caryn at one point presented her with a list of all the things she'd been doing wrong as a PA -- and then questioned whether she could do her job and if she even still wanted to. Sound familiar?
  • April 2002, not long before the conference, I wrote a letter to Wynn Lembright and Walt Campbell telling them about my experiences over the last couple of months. I assured them the conference would be okay, but asked them to intervene as soon as possible. They assured me they'd fully look into the matter.
  • A few days later, Mary Rayburn schedules a meeting with me. In that meeting she tells me she was given the letter (I'd find out later that it was given to her by my student co-director). She told Caryn, and together they met with the Dean of Students, the Dean of the Campus Ministries and other sordid higher-ups. I wasn't invited. In that meeting, they pronounced judgement on me. Mary told me I was "to be careful" -- I was admonished for going over her head. For an hour and a half, she told me how disrespectful and insubordinate I was. She told me how I destroyed the conference. I left that meeting and cried for most of the night.
  • The next week, I agree that immediately after the conference is over, I would be done with it, Caryn and Mary Rayburn. I never stepped foot back inside TWO. I didn't go to the induction for the new co-directors and when I received a small Bible as my gift from TWO -- with a hand-written note on the inside that said, "Thanks for all your hard work with Youth Conference," -- I gave it away to someone I met on the street in Muncie.
The next step in my Taylor saga was this post. It's pretty clear, so I'll move on to the next issue in my next post.

Petition (final draft)

UPDATE: The petition is online as of 10 p.m. EST. The final text is below, and you can sign at http://www.petitiononline.com/tayloru/petition.html

We, alumni, students, and other friends of Taylor University, ask the Taylor University Board of Trustees, Taylor University President David Gyertson and the student development / residence life staff of Taylor University to create a Student Advocacy Center.

The center will be dedicated to protecting the rights of students on Taylor’s campus; it will help students deal with problems ranging from conflicts with professors / staff, judicial affairs, academic complaints, student accounts, registration, financial aid and campus housing, etc.

A Student Advocacy Center is necessary because of a wide-spread, but rarely dealt with problem on Taylor’s campus. Though it is an institution ostensibly run by Christian principles, students have been subjected to verbal, emotional and spiritual abuse by some in authority, egregious violations of their right to privacy and general disrespect of their personhood.

Because of Taylor’s small size, the unbending loyalty that exists between its the staff and a climate that makes it extremely difficult to speak out – students have no recourse to defend themselves and no where to turn for help. A Student Advocacy Center is desperately need to ensure that the past doesn't repeat itself at Taylor University.

Now, we need to start working on a detailed proposal to present with the petition once it has enough signatures.

What I wanted

As part of a settlement with the school, I proposed they create a Student Advocacy Center. I spent some time talking with administration at school's around the country that have created such a place. In general, they had an adult -- a full-time employee -- who was the student advocate general. This person was responsible, at the student's request, to mediate disputes or conflicts between a student and an employee of the school. They also had either volunteer or employed student advocates who assisted that advocate general.

This would help mitigate the problem that employees at Taylor almost always back each other up, not matter what the situation. I agree with Annie, I turned every where I could for help when I was at Taylor and I was only disciplined for it. That's a problem. If I had someone who could've helped me -- things might have been different.

The details of this center are something we could workout with Taylor and amongst ourselves. But if we're serious about doing something, then, I think this is something we can ask of Taylor. I worked out more detailed plans on how the center should work, policy decisions, etc. That's something we can talk about here.

Now, the question becomes, what's the best way to ask this of Taylor? My way didn't work. And, is this the best thing to ask for? Will this address all our concerns?

UPDATE: These were my specific guidlines:

· The university will immediately and without hesitation create a student advocacy center.

· The center will exist as a confidential service to advocate for students and students alone on the Upland campus, representing them in any disputes involving anyone connected to the university, whatever the issue, at the student’s request.

· The rules, procedures and protocols of the advocacy center will be set-up by an advisory committee consisting of no less than three (3) current students, (2) professors, (2) members of residence life or student development and (2) alumni with no current connection to the university. Finalization of rules, procedures and protocols and activation of the center will be made by majority vote of the student senate.

· It, at a minimum, must employ one (1) adult general advocate who is not a graduate of the university and four (4) volunteer or paid advocates selected from the current student body, at least one from each class.

· Every attempt must be made to employ advocates with no presumed or actual conflict of interest, who will adhere strictly to written privacy policies and not fear to fight for the rights and interests of the students they represent.

11.22.2004

Traffic (updated)

I was surprised when I checked today's site stats -- as they're already higher than the last highest day (November 8th) when the first person from Taylor's campus discovered the site. A little checking, and I discovered that it's probably due to this.

UPDATE: After reading a comment at that site, I have to agree that for outsiders all this may be hard to follow, as there was so much stuff -- seemingly seperate stuff -- that happened in just about two years time there. I'll work on some kind of overview when I get the chance.

My accusation: Invasion of privacy

I've given you details and since most of us are aware that I threatened to file a lawsuit regarding some of this, I'm going to get a little more specific on the legal problems as I see them. I'm not a lawyer, this is all based on what I've learned and read on my own. Even if these aren't legal issues, they are moral ethical ones that a Christian community like Taylor should be willing to address.

We'll start with this post about Jan Pletcher. My charge is that this is an egregious invasion of my right to privacy, and unwarranted intrusion. When I threatened to sue, I asked for an apology re: this invasion, and that Taylor take immediate steps to educate all its employees about how to respect its student's rights to privacy, specifically in regard to the counseling center.

Why this is an invasion of privacy
First, the right to privacy isn't necessarily articulated in any statute or law. It comes from an article in the Harvard Law Review in the 1890s written by lawyers "Bull" Warren and future Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis. It's been substantiated firmly in case law, including the infamous Roe v. Wade that Chrisitians tend to despise so much. In somes states, it's called intrusion.

What is the right to privacy? Generally, it's protection against a) intrusion on one's solitude or into one's private affairs; b) public disclosure of embarrassing private information; c) publicity which puts him/her in a false light to the public; d) appropriation of one's name or picture for personal or commercial advantage.

Now, does a private citizen, such as Jan Pletcher, contacting a student's therapist to question him or gain information or to levy accuastions of wrong-doing or for whatever reason she did it constitute an intrusion on one's solitude or one's private affiars? Absolutely.

The Chilling Effect
And unfortunately, Jan Pletcher was only one of a few who did this to me. The Youth Conference Director at the time, Caryn Grimstead did the same. And by all information I've gathered she did it multiple times.

Toward the end of my juior year, my counselor said to me, "I thought if I gave her a little (speaking of the YC Director), she'd back off, but she didn't. I'm sorry, I won't make that mistake again." His was the first, and up until last night, the only apology I've ever received in regard to Taylor. He and Wes are good people.

Now, why would I want to continue counseling under those conditions? Fortunately, I graduated before I found out this ocurred. Why would any student want to trust the counseling center? Or their professors? Where did the wonderful, idealic community I presented to so many prospective students go?

These people, for whatever reason they did what they did, damaged an awesome resource on Taylor's campus. They've irreperably damaged me. They took something from me that wasn't theirs to take. I can't get it back, either. The scary thing, they did it so quickly, and so easily -- possibly without much forethought as to the consequences, but maybe who knows, maybe there was forethought and even malice. I can't be sure. But I don't believe they feel they did anything wrong. I don't believe Taylor feels they did anything wrong. Michael Blickman, from Ice Miller, doesn't.

For Taylor, it seems to be all about protecting themselves from liability.

11.21.2004

The Allegation: A number of keys...

Again, this one from Jan Pletcher confuses me. She says I had a number of keys that were never issued to me. That is absolutely false.

First, let's take a good look at how well Taylor keeps track of those precious keys. In the communication department, the secretary kept a small notebook where she wrote down who had what. I can remember one time, one time in about three years that we were collectively reminded to return our keys in at the end of the year (by e-mail). More than one student has graduated and come back to me (when I was still a student) with keys that where never turned in, asking me to return them for them. In general, we were all pretty much careless with them. So was Taylor. I suspect they'd be surprised if they ever did an audit of how many keys have been lost due to their lack of effort to keep track of them.

So, they keys I've had in my time as a Taylor student (and this is from memory). Of course, I always had a key to my residence hall. That was the only one I had my freshmen year. My sophomore year, I received a key to the broadcast quadrant, and RBA key if I remember correctly. My junior year, I received a key to the admissions office. I also received a key to the TWO office.

Later that year, I received a key to the echo office. It opened the building, the outer journalism quadrant door, the Echo office door, and surprisingly, the editor's office door inside the Echo office, too. I didn't need a key to that door, but because I joined the staff so late, the secretary was out of standard staff keys (that only opened the outer two doors). Her exact words to me where, "I can't believe how many Echo keys I've given out this year.

Later, after the Echo's camera was stolen, they began locking the rest of the equipment in the editor's office (up until then the camera's were kept in an unlocked cabinet). One of the photographer's came to me, asking to trade keys. His was a standard key, but he needed easy access to the camera. I said sure, as I didn't need access to the editor's office, and we traded keys. There was a rumor (and I emphasize, this is an unconfirmed rumor) that he reported the key he gave to me as stolen. I'm still looking for confirmation on that.

At one point, I also received a key to the J-lab, from Skip Surguine. He was a one semester professor in the department that Taylor decided not to keep on. That's all I'll say about him. I received the key because one of the counselors in the counseling center, with my permission, talked with a few of my professor's to tell them that I was struggling with classes. I was in Skip's photojournalism class, and told him because of a myriad of peronal issues, I was having difficulty getting into the lab to use the one negative scanner that we had for all of us to complete projects. The lab closed at like 10, and I was just having trouble finding the time -- plus I had to compete with about 10 other people for access. I told him I feared failing and needed to drop the class. He didn't like that idea, and asked if he got me a key to the lab, if it would help. That way, I could come in whenever I wanted. I said it might, but didn't believe they'd ever give me a key. He told me not to worry, that he'd take care of it. A day later, he handed me a j-lab key and told me not to tell anyone I had it, "because everyone would want one."

At the end of that year, I handed my Echo key back into either the editor or the managing editor. I can't remember. They were the only ones that I recall ever actually making an effort to get keys back.

Around the same time, I was walking down the hallway when Donna Downs stopped me, asking if I had a j-lab key. I said yeah, and she asked if I still needed it. I said no, and she asked for it back. I gladly turned it over.

I lived in Swallow that summer and of course received a key there. I also gave it back when I left in July.

I kept my admissions office key for the summer, as I continued to work there. My TWO key was turned into my student co-director at some point. If I recall, she had lost her TWO key and had been using mine for a while.

I received another e-mail the next fall, in DC, from Donna asking for all my keys back. I told her I didn't have anymore keys, I'd given them all back. She responded saying that she was surprised to hear me say that, as she was told I was in out of the communications building all summer. Well, I was -- giving tours. But we used a master key that one of the secretaries in admissions kept in her bottom desk drawer. I used the key to move through the building and show people some of the labs if they requested.

But, I went into my attic and dug through boxes until I found my broadcast quadrant key packed away. It had been in that box since my sophomore year. As soon as I found it, I mailed it off.

Later, I heard from other students who were nagged about keys, too. All I can say, is it was about time. If Taylor isn't more serious about protecting those keys and getting them back, then they need to stop looking for students to blame when things go missing. We'll talk more about that later though -- and how a camera could easily be taken from the Echo. Card board boxes were more secure.

There was a lot of interesting stuff going on with keys that year as I recall. One student told me her j-lab key was stolen off her key ring. Now mind you, she left her keys hanging in an office door for a while. That think I couldn't help thinking about that though, was that she should've turned that key in at the end of the previous year. She told me though, she'd liked having it and didn't want to give it up. I wonder if anyone gave her a hard time about losing a key she wasn't supposed to have in the first place. But then, not everyone in the department was treated as a common thief like I was.

Free Will

I have a lot to do tonight and a lot of things to say, so we'll see what I get to and what I don't. But I wanted to throw this one out to you guys. It's at Annie's site. I'll be back later.