Saturday, December 31, 2011

Student Saturday: Don't Lose Hope

Just a few scattered thoughts today, but I do hope you'll forward this to as many current OBU students as possible...

Mid-October Q & A with the Administration
A typical page from any crisis management plan goes something like this: Decision makers do something controversial that pleases a powerful few and upsets the majority.  A few people raise their voice in protest.  Decision makers agree to meet with the disaffected constituents.  The meeting happens, a few people air their concerns, but the policy stays the same.  Finally, and most crucially, the decision makers hope that the protesters shut up, go home, and forget the whole thing ever happened.

OBU administrators have been using this tactic a lot lately -- not only with students, but also with current and retired faculty.  They only win if we actually do shut up and go home.

In response to a modest amount of publicly aired dissatisfaction with recent policy and personnel changes, the administration held a forum with students in mid-October.  It was more of a press conference than a conversation: the questions had to be submitted in advance, and certain topics (the unethical and groundless dismissal of two professors) were off the table altogether.

But students did get to hear the administration respond to concerns that no woman had been hired to teach biblical studies or theology in a half century and that soon, students will be required to purchase textbooks from a fundamentalist bookstore.

What's Next?
They only win if you remain quiet and compliant.  The bookstore situation (as I understand it) is so outrageous that you (and your parents) should simply insist that you will not abide by the new policy.  Frankly, too many OBU parents are in the dark about all the recent negative changes at OBU.  And the checks they send OBU every year make the BGCO's contribution seem like pocket change.  Maybe when they start getting bills from a fundamentalist bookstore, they will be more vocal.

Most students perceive administrators have been dismissive of their concerns.  If this is true, I understand it must feel frustrating.  But you have to be relentless.  You can bet that the fundamentalists at the BGCO have been relentless in their goal of devolving OBU into a fundamentalist Bible academy.    It's been their dream since literally before you were born.  We have to patient yet firm in our resolve to stand up for OBU's great liberal arts tradition.

As the weeks and months go on, we will be incorporating more and more students, parents, alumni, and faculty into our movement.  Some of you will be back on Bison Hill in a matter of days.  Others will not return until later in the month.  But don't wait another moment to make your voice heard and spread the word.

YOU are the ones with the greatest stake in OBU's success.  The consequences of OBU's ongoing fundamentalist transformation are unthinkable.  You are the ones who will suffer most if OBU loses its accreditation and your degree becomes worthless.  You are the ones whose graduate school options could be limited to the now-fundamentalist SBC seminaries and law schools like Liberty and Regent.  And you will be repaying student loans regardless of whether OBU returns to its former glory as a beacon of knowledge and inquiry or continues down the road to ruin.

Right now, there are people in the Baptist Building who are elated that moderate professors have been fired and that philosophy is being replaced with "apologetics."  Their decades-long dream of turning OBU into a fundamentalist Bible academy now seems within reach.  What are you going to do to fight back?

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