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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

12.01.2004

I'm okay

I appreciate the concern in the e-mails some of you have sent. But I'm okay. Rather than respond to each one, I decided to let you all know at once. I didn't make the decisions I have expecting a smooth ride, nor did I expect no criticism. I can deal with it. I have dealt with it. I've grown especially used to it in regard to Taylor. I say it over and over again, but this is the reason people remain silent. They don't wan to deal with things like this.

I get it at work, too. We have public jobs, and the public is very vocal about what they like and what they don't like. I've gotten e-mails complaining about everything from my hair to the color of my eyes on camera (they're too blue and they're distracting). Or my red Columbia coat is too expensive and I set a bad example for people by wearing it on the sidelines at football games (there are better things to spend our money on). Or, God forbid we make a mistake. Even if we correct it, it doesn't matter. I cover a lot of public and community events, if I don't give everyone the space they feel they deserve, I get all kinds of things said about me. I've even had classified sales people at my own company complain about me because I did stories on their friends. Once, an elementary school teacher called me a terrorist because I took pictures of his school (which was being shut down).

Criticism is a way of my life. I'll be okay, but thanks for your concern.

Lots done, lots to do

Well, at church the other night, there was this student in my class. She's a very good student; others have trusted her with leadership before, I have in the past as well. But I've noticed lately, she's not herself. I think she's depressed.

So I called the church counselor. He wouldn't tell me that she was already seeing him, at least at first. I pressed him hard enough and he finally told me. It didn't make any difference, as I'd already asked all her friends one by one. I've tried to talk with her a couple of times, but she really doesn't want to talk to me -- so something must be really wrong, because I can help her. After all, it's her that I'm concerned about.

But I have to call him again today. First, I have some theories as to what may be wrong and he needs to hear them. Second, the DVD player is missing from our classroom. I've already talked with everyone else and they agree, she's the only who could've done it. She has been acting really weird lately. And oh, someone broke one of the windows on the far side of the church last month. I know she was on vacation -- but, I bet she did that two. I'll have to remember to mention that.

I also think I'm going to sit down with the senior pastor today. If he's not involved yet, he needs to be. Besides, she's acting so weird I don't want him to hear anything about me from her. I'll make sure he gets my side of the story.

I heard this morning that she's had the flu or something, too. One of the other students in my class said she spent the night in the hospital -- and that it's probably something worse than the flu. I'm going to suggest to the pastor that she bring in test results from her doctor so we know that she doesn't have something dangerous. We can't have stuff like that in the church. We have a couple of doctors in the congregation, maybe they could do it for her so we'd have access to the information for sure. It's her I'm concerned about.

---

Okay, so I made all that up. But I had lots of material to draw from. Though, I'm glad its my tactics that are continually questioned. I know, I know, It doesn't really make sense that those in the wrong should be held accountable. To hell with the LTC, right? It is, after all, a document of convenience and public relations. I just expected more from Taylor and its people. I am a fool.

Paul and Silas in prison

"But Paul said to the officers: "They beat us publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out." :: Acts 16:37

11.30.2004

Alum expresses solidarity

I haven't had a chance to ask her permission (I hope she doesn't mind), but after the last post I just entered, I wanted to end my night on a more positive note. This is part of one of a few e-mails I've received. It came today, after the author discovered Annie's post on the alumni forum. She explained to me some of what she experienced in regard to Taylor (different in a lot of ways than what I experienced, but still), then expressed this:

I graduated from Taylor in 1990 and continue, at times, to battle my Taylor "demons." ... Our cases may be very different but I wanted you to know that you're far from alone.
Amen. We're not alone.

Alumnus gives his 'take' in forum

I've been thinking about this one most of the day. I respect and appreciate Evan's decision to chop the post, because it deserved it. But I don't want to hide from criticism, and I want to be as transparent as I can. So I'm posting some of the parts of Tom Klein's post (now a grad student at Purdue, originally from Michigan I believe) from the alumni forum. It's fairly indicitive of what I've encountered in trying to stand up to Taylor. I couldn't give you a better example of the hostility and defensivness that comes out of disagreeing with the school.


"... I believe that Justin honestly believes that he was wronged. I also believe that he has handled this situation very poorly and has blown it way out of proportion.

Justin seems to want to make this dispute as public as possible. He sent me an email claiming that Taylor went to the press and he did not, but I find that hard to believe. Every article I have read about this has contained numerous statements from Justin and his people with Taylor refusing to comment. ...

I also find it hard to believe that someone held Justin down and forcably took his blood. It seems Taylor had some concerns about his health and insisted he take a blood test, and he consented in protest. The fact that rumors spread is unsurprising.

The rest of his complaints seem to be Justin failing to get the registration forms in on time and Justin failing to make sure the paperwork for his internship got to the right people in a timely manner. Justin is upset because Taylor didn't make an exception for him. This is not an uncommon complaint.

Justin also is alleging that Taylor disclosed his counseling information. Yet Justin doesn't seem to know what if any information was disclosed.

Now the dispute is that Taylor isn't giving Justin documents that Taylor does not feel it has an obligation to give him. And Taylor has a very solid legal argument as to why it has no obligation to give him the documents. The way Justin has handled this situation, I don't blame Taylor for not cooperating with him.

Admittedly, I don't have the full story. All I have is Justin's side of the story. That is because Justin is the one giving statements to the press and putting up websites.

... I think the focus should be on how the Center would help students in the future and not on how Justin can seek more publicity for his complaints.

...
Annie did a great job of responding to his post in the forum, though I'm not sure if she saw the whole post or the excised version. I don't have much more to say about it. I present what happened, you're all quite free to make your own judgements. And just like Tom, in the grand Christian spirit of reconciliation I'm criticized for not having, most of you do. I don't mean to sound negative, but this is generally a negative experience.

I could move on, rather than take continued abuse like this. But I'm not doing this for myself. No amount of "power" or "money" (thanks Syndrome, who's signature has now been invalidated) is going to fix the damage I've suffered. Knowing that I can help stop it from happening to others will bring some peace, though.

UPDATE: I went back and snagged this, too -- just so we all understand Tom's opinion of me from the get go (again, from the alumni forum):
I get three distinct impressions about this guy. That he:

1. Is paranoid
2. Is suffering from delusions of granduer
3. Has way too much time on his hands.
That's all for now.

11.29.2004

Campus police like their privacy

"INDIANAPOLIS – Criminal charges of trespassing and obstructing a peace officer were voluntarily dismissed late last week against a student journalist at Brigham Young University who was trying to videotape campus police doing their work." (emphasis mine)

--Society of Professional Journalists

Taylor keeps more records secret

I've made two requests to Taylor to inspect and copy the records created by the counseling center. They've ignored both. That's interesting to me, because Indiana law says:

"The information contained in the mental health record belongs to the patient involved as well as to the provider. ... A patient is entitled to inspect and copy the patient's own mental health record." Indiana Code 16-39-2, et seq.
I wonder why Taylor has ignored me? What's in those records that they don't want me to see? Or could it be, because they don't want to admitt that they've actually lost my records?

I can't confirm it, since Taylor won't officially admitt it. I've been doing everything possible to confirm it, but Taylor is uncooperative. Those records contain not only highly sensitive and personal information, but personal identifiers as well (as I recall, my SSN is used on the intake form). I need to know if the records are safely in their posession or not, otherwise, there are legal steps that I have to take to protect myself. But without Taylor's cooperation, I can't.

Why do I believe the files are missing? Simply, because I was told they were. Mind you, I was told long after they were likely discovered missing. You'd think this would be the type of thing a client needs to know and needs to know immediately. But not at Taylor. Apparently, Walt Campbell ordered that I not be told. Although, when I asked Walt if he knew anything about my file and if it was really missing -- he shook his head, turned away and said "this is the first I've heard about that."

Maybe my file is secure in their posession and not in the hands of some stalker. Either way, someone at Taylor is lying.

No wonder they won't answer my requests for access.

Anonymous signer defaces petition

"Well, I watched the Incredibles, and couldn't help but recognize how Justin felt like he was being abused...much like Syndrome. So, Syndrome builds a vast empire and tries to be a hero for others after he has been hurt. Justin has been hurt and it seems like he's trying to cover up his feelings with power and money. Oh yeah, don't forget that you're supposed to love the brotherhood. Think about that one."
Well, this is a first. I've never been compared to a cartoon character before. I'm going to ignore the psycho babble overtones in that message and note that though the person who posted this on the petition (as opposed to the comments) hoped they could avoid my ascertaining their identity, it really didn't work.

My feelings aren't being covered up. I've been quite vocal about my feelings -- and if I need to do so more, I can. I have a lot more to talk about. A lot more details to divulge. I'm being generous, conservative and merciful right now. I hope no one tries to make me regret that.

Now, though, this person didn't use their real name, and in turn, did deface the petition, so -- should the signature be removed?

'96 Taylor grad in prison for sex offense

"COLDWATER -- The Michigan Court of Appeals declined to consider the appeal of Troy Stoner, in turn forcing him to register as a sex offender for his Branch County conviction. But it made little difference, as he was sent to prison the same day as a sex offender in Hillsdale County."

--The Daily Reporter

E-mail is down

The justinmc (at) gmail (dot) com account is down and has been since last night. If you've tried to contact me, and it's urgent or time sensitive, please feel free to e-mail again at justin (at) fifteen-minutes (dot) net. As an anti-spam measure on that account, you'll need to verify your e-mail address. It's easy and painless, I promise. I assume the gmail account will at some point be functioning again.

PS - Metafilter visitors have reached 10,000 as of about 5:30 EST.

11.28.2004

TU-Obligation receives high profile link

I noticed the page view counter has jumped by a couple thousand in just about an hour. A little investigation finds a high profile link on Metafilter. Seriously, it's sent like 3,000 4,000 5,500 7,500 visitors here in just a short amount of time about a day's time. (UPDATE: I've recieved multiple e-mails from people expressing outrage and advice, there's a new link on another blog here, and Metafilter linked directly to this post).

It's interesting though, watching a lot of people talk about whether or not you contracted and STD. But I knew that a lot of disclosure would be required if I really wanted to see change happen at Taylor. The petition, at this point, only has 10 signatures on it. I say thank you, to those nine other people. For whatever reason you signed -- it's nice to feel again, some solidarity with people connected to Taylor -- the same that I felt before my junior year.

There were a couple questions posed in the comments at Metafilter. I don't know what people still believe about my health. I didn't make it a point to track down anyone and tell them, unless they asked. Most people still believe I vandalized a building and stole some camera's, too.

I've also tried not to think a lot about the number of people who heard that rumor. Stuff like that goes like wild fire at Taylor. Once, a group of people were talking about a YC small group leader who was arrested for stealing a road sign -- after the police saw him and his students with it. The group talking about him, some of them faculty, asked me what I knew. When I said I couldn't talk about it out of respect for the kid who was arrested, they fround, turned to each other and continued talking about him.

Christians can be horrible to each other.

If it quacks like a duck...

"If you act like a police department, are equipped and have the powers of a police department, then you should have to abide by the same rules that all other police departments must."

-The Macon Telegraph
Unfortunately, though there is no question that Grant County Sheriff's department must abide by the law, but they have, for almost a year now, ignored repeated requests for access to their records in regard to Taylor University. They are now out of time to respond.

Why does so much secrecy surround this school? What is it about that place?