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Tuesday peace came from above

My testimony was the only document I prepared that was read, delivered, and tested in the March 2013 interview process for teaching as an adjunct professor in Mass Communication at North Greenville University. While my more Presbyterian covenantal vocabulary was met with skepticism, my Baptist-ese was proven sufficient for the 6-hours a semester. “Well, you go to a good church, I guess,” was the final conclusion.

The New York Times article published on February 12th, 2014 and I interviewed with the American Prospect on Tuesday, February 25th. Sometime between those two dates, however, the phone lines were hot between 29614 and 29688.

On February 27, I was scheduled for a 1:30 meeting with my North Greenville University supervisor, Linwood Hagin, to discuss my student evaluations from the previous semester. My scores were very high overall, with a few critiques about my unfamiliarity with campus procedures (such is the life of a new adjunct) and one correct but irrelevant observation that I lean left politically. I had written out my assessment of those observations and gave the usual kinds of proposals to improve. Linwood and I discussed those things as any first-semester adjunct and supervisor would. We talked primarily about Blackboard, an educational software package that I had yet to integrate into my curriculum.

And then the discussion turned. It was a feeling I knew quite well. I knew it so well that I had to stifle a giggle. Maybe Bob Jones University did teach me a thing or two about how to live.

“Now I have to bring up something unfortunate.” Linwood previewed.

I smiled broadly, feeling confident within a sense of doom. It was a good feeling, to be honest.

“Someone from another university in town called the NGU administration and said that you had been making comments about that university, and the NGU administration would like for you to not speak about the controversy.”

Now, I knew what that meant, but I was mystified by the ambiguity. Why equivocate? Why play games with phrases such as “another university in town.” If you don’t want me to do something, you need to tell me explicitly what it is you don’t want me to do. I was familiar with this code, so calling from my muscle memory, I carried on.

“What does that mean?” I asked.

“Stay out of the controversy.”

I knew that I had to focus on specifics, again a familiar feeling. I even remembered the script from before. “Yes, I understand. But I need to know the boundaries here. What does that mean?”

“. . . . Stay out of the controversy,” he repeated

Specifics were clearly not forthcoming.

“Now, I know I was in the New York Times . . . .”

Flustered, Linwood reacted with “What? I didn’t know that. No, no, no. The New York Times? What?”

I continued, “I know I was in the New York Times, but I’ve been exceptionally careful not to ever mention NGU in my interviews with the media.”

“Okay, okay. . . . It was Bob Jones University,” he finally admitted.

“Right. I’m not surprised that they would do this. They’ve attacked me at my church, they’ve targeted my kids at school, so of course they would come here. In fact, I was going to come to you last semester about their public accusations that I was guilty of federal crimes . . . .”

“What? No. No, no. No.”

“Right. It was completely false. But this is how they work.”

“Well, NGU is a private institution and so we have no promise of . . . .” he trailed off.

I didn’t need to hear more. “I will talk to Dr. Pannell.”

“Well, apparently, you’ve made some statements in social media.” he peered over his nonexistent glasses at me.

“I know quite well what I’ve said on social media. Like I’ve said, I’m not surprised they would try this tactic. This is what they do. I’ll talk to Dr. Pannell.”

I thanked him and brought the focus back to the earlier conclusion of the meeting: Blackboard. “And I’ll look into Blackboard . . . .”

“Yeah, that’d be good . . . . IF you’re working here next year.”

Well. There you have it.

11 thoughts on “Tuesday peace came from above

  1. I hate this for you. But I am not surprised. These schools value reputation above academic excellence. Surface is all that matters. Keep God in his little box and don’t tell anyone about how that box was made by abusive, power-hungry hands.

  2. This is pure evil. But then, BJU and its minions went too far the moment they went after your children.

    BJU supporters, I know you are reading. Please, please, for the cause of the Christ you claim you serve, stop calling yourselves Christians. It’s one thing to push out a staff member when you disagree with her views. But for you to go after her at her church once she is no longer in your system, that’s not Christlike. For her to go after her at her workplace once she is no longer part of your system, that’s just wrong. And finally, for you to go after her children in *any* situation is pure evil straight from Hell itself. Please stop calling yourselves Christian because what you’re doing isn’t it.

  3. Shame on BJU. But we know this already. It’s the NGU piece that makes me sadder. They ought to be proud to have had people like you and Grant on their faculty list. From a purely practical perspective, organizations need people who do pain in the ass stuff b/c otherwise they don’t find out what they need to fix until it’s too late. Places like NGU need people who will speak to controversy. It’s a shame that they don’t have the balls to recognize and value that.

  4. I had historically thought of NGU as being completely isolated from BJU, for many reasons. But for NGU to take this as seriously as they seem to have done thus far baffles me, given that it’s being fed to them from the Mecca of Wade Hampton. You’d think they’d been around long enough to realize that when BJU give you information, it’s somewhat akin to the neighborhood psycho putting razor blades in caramel apples… it just doesn’t matter how tasty that apple looks, the deal is rigged. You’d think they’d get that.

    Then again maybe they do get that, and this is either a formality or an oversight. Or maybe BJU is just offering not to blackmail in them in Christian love if they take action against you. However you slice it, BJU continues to demonstrate that no matter how many people come and go, the core of their institutional apple is always thoroughly rotten. I continue to believe that Ichabod is written in divine Sharpie in huge letters across the BJU campus.

    I’m so sorry you are having to deal with this crap all these years later. Thank you for putting all this in writing and in public! Sunlight, as always, is the best disinfectant.

  5. You have to keep in mind that this “controversy”, as they so quaintly put it, is about how religious colleges handle sexual abuse victims/cases.

    North Greenville, as much as they’d like to pretend that they are different from BJU, is a Southern Baptist school. As such, I see only a smidgen of difference between the two. Maybe the rules aren’t quite as strict; maybe you listen to CCM and women can wear pants anyplace they like. But it’s a conservative religious college.

    I bet you if you placed the “statement of faith” (do colleges have such a thing?) up next to BJU’s, you know them apart.

    Methinks they wish to stay far, far away from this, remain terribly silent, and hope like hell nobody notices them.

    After all, what if somebody started looking in the closets out there?

  6. It goes without saying that independent thought and autonomy in general are foreign concepts at BJU. It’s another method of control: the idea that you represent “the University” and “the Lawd”, etc, and that your behavior must be controlled by the public image that the authoritarian entity would desire. The entire world to them is made up of a military-like chain of command there’s always a higher-up. It’s a shame they these folks have to live in such fear that they lash out to control others. How liberating and free they COULD feel, if they chose to make their own decisions and let others do the same. It’s like they’re “thought police” and they don’t realize it’s not possible to police that. When one spends so much time looking over the fence trying to clean up someone else’s back yard, they don’t notice the mess accumulating in their own.

  7. You are a spoiled brat. You lie and twist the truth frequently. You are a Jezebel and should be ashamed of yourself, but you have no shame and will answer for it.

  8. Oh, can it, Jeff. Nothing you have said about Camille is true… or even original, really. You Fundamental folks really need a new play book. You are all so predictable at this point. *yawn*

  9. I greatly admire your willingness to be a royal pain in the ass of those who try to silent victims of sexual abuse! Before reading what you and others have survived leaving the fundies, I thought I was alone in feeling that the IFB had gone to hell in a hand basket.

    You give me hope that one day the nonsense soaked into my brain from birth will quieten. All the “Christian” destruction of others convinces me every single moment that they are the crazy ones.

    You are changing this world in which we live. You do not know me but you have helped me to accept myself.

    To Jeff: Son, you need to come up with something better! That is all you have? Seriously? “Jezebel” … You are too funny to be taken seriously!

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