The university engaged in a self-study beginning in 2006. The committee reported in January 2008. Part of that report is here. At the time, we were experiencing a substantial enrollment drop. A group began studying the feasibility of fielding a football team, in large part to help boost enrollment, particularly male enrollment. I found parts of the report to be troubling. But as far as I know (and I don't know much), the football issue received significant attention and scrutiny from a number of very capable and devoted people before a decision was made to proceed.
There are going to be challenges and changes, of course. But adding a football program can have important advantages, as well. I'm optimistic.
Now, if boosting male enrollment is a concern, I certainly have some ideas. First of all, OBU could end its anti-social and reactionary dorm visitation policy. Sexually repressed 17 year old church kids may not want to come to a college that treats them like they are 12 and is more obsessed with their "purity" than their parents ever were. Not to mention that this visitation policy creates another horrible problem -- the frequent and gratuitous public displays of affection that OBU students across the generations have loved to hate. But that's another issue for another day.
Sorry to disappoint those who may have been looking to Save OBU to rail against the decision to add football. It is not our intent to oppose every decision OBU makes. It is not our view that everything, or even most things, about OBU are bad. Rather, we are concerned specifically with issues related to encroaching fundamentalism, authoritarianism, and anti-intellectualism that have been occasionally present for many years but have become painfully obvious recently. And, as always, we are committed to the proposition that only complete independence and autonomy from the BGCO can ultimately solve these problems.
While we're on the subject, I think I'll just list a few issues that I propose Save OBU not take positions on:
- OBU Athletics (Go Bison!)
- OU-OSU, OU-UT, Braums-Blue Bell, etc. etc. Not going there...
- Politics. Most of our supporters are conservatives and Republicans, but we will welcome people across the spectrum. Even Ron Paul disciples!
- Theology. Most of our supporters identify as Baptists and/or evangelicals, but again, we have welcomed people from a variety of denominational backgrounds. Like the pre-Takeover SBC, we do not intend to impose creeds, but rather respect the liberty of individuals' conscience and their soul competency.
We are building a movement that aims to unite rather than divide. It is going to be difficult enough to bring together so many diverse OBU constituencies: students, alumni, faculty, former faculty, parents, donors, Oklahoma Baptists, etc. But we have to be united. It's too easy for powerful people to dismiss a few anonymous students one year, then a few hundred alumni the next year, and then some retired faculty the year after that. If we are actually going to preserve academic freedom and OBU's great liberal arts tradition by winning independence from the BGCO, we have to be united. The football issue -- decided years ago -- is not our battle. It has little, if any, strategic importance to the changes we seek.