Continuing to ignore student, faculty, and alumni concerns will have increasing consequences. Consider this letter we received from an Oklahoma couple who graduated from OBU in the late '80s and whose child is a current underclassman at OBU:
I am concerned about the route the university is taking, to a point where we will make a decision as to whether she will return next fall.
Our child has not been brought up in a conservative household and consequently holds rather liberal social values. My husband and I thought OBU is a good place for her because of the lack of a partying atmosphere. It was also very academic in nature, emphasizing the need to study and LEARN. We both felt we had a good, well-rounded liberal arts education, and assumed she would receive the same.
Her [subject area redacted] professor last semester had a decidedly socially conservative slant (which is fine) and led discussion accordingly (which is not). My daughter felt intimidated if she spoke up with a different opinion. She even felt her grade might be in jeopardy. When I learned about your blog and Facebook page, I asked her about it. She knew about it, but didn’t want to “like” the page for fear she would get in trouble (her words).
I grew up in [name of BGCO church redacted], and my mother still attends there. My mother is very concerned about her church’s direction now. It has caused her and some of her friends, who have been lifelong members, a great deal of disappointment and disillusionment.
How many of these kinds of stories will OBU administrators have to hear before they start paying attention? Or, should I say, how much revenue will they have to lose (knowing that the BGCO's subsidy accounts for an ever-decreasing proportion of OBU's annual operating budget)?
The concerned parent goes on to say that her mother's pastor, who is not a fundamentalist but who knows how to play nice with the Baptist Building boys, is under scrutiny from the BGCO for his church not sending many students to OBU. We know the BGCO has a ton of pastors who advise youth in their congregations against OBU because they think it's too liberal. But could it be the case that the BGCO also has pastors who can't in good conscience recommend OBU because it is becoming too fundamentalist?
Here at Save OBU, we struggled with how to advise prospective students. Many of our supporters categorically refuse to recommend OBU to young people in their spheres of influence. But as a community, we settled on a middle ground, providing relevant facts for prospective students in their families to consider while also highlighting the benefits of an OBU education.
As for prospective transfers, I can say (speaking only for myself) I hope this young woman and her parents can find enough confidence in OBU's direction to justify staying. But I certainly understand their concerns. And I fear that this situation will have to play out in many more students' lives before top leadership realizes they have a problem.