Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Stories We're Following (Please Circulate)

Last week, I mentioned that, after a quiet spell earlier this spring, we're actually monitoring quite a few issues at the moment.  Through mid-May, I'll try to keep this post at the top of the blog's front page and link to more detailed content as we're able to post it. Here's a brochure detailing what we're all about. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Student Journalism at OBU
Though the writing is very good and the production value is high, The Bison simply isn't what it once was in terms of journalistic inquiry into serious campus issues.  There are lots of impressionistic columns, general debates, and personal advice features, but there is no investigative reporting.  Editorial pages (with real editorials) have disappeared.  Journalists go berserk if you accuse them of censorship, but I don't know what else to call it.  I'll say it as nicely as possible: The gaps in news coverage and editorial content could lead a reasonable person to speculate that there is a) censorship, b) fear of censorship, or c) blow-back that creates self-censorship.

Of particular note here is the fact that The Bison recently decided against printing an open letter to "the OBU Family" (edited for length) in response to a chapel sermon by an "ex gay" evangelist on the grounds that Save OBU endorsed the letter (which is simply not true) and that we tried to bully the paper into printing the letter.

More on this soon.  We've addressed this issue before, and will tread softly.  But I feel strongly that aside from being an important educational experience for journalism students and other relevant majors, a campus newspaper has an obligation to its community to fill a vital need for rigorous inquiry and debate of campus issues that is, arguably, not being met.

Fine Arts Fiasco
Last month I wrote two posts about a perceived reorientation of the Warren M. Angell College of Fine Arts.  But before I could finish the series, several people asked me to hold off because (unbeknownst to me) a student was collecting opinions from other students and attempting to present them to college administrators.  Unsurprisingly, this did not go over well.  The student lost his or her on-campus job and endured some unfortunate treatment from administrators.  We've been down this road before.   It's amazing how one small, innocent act can unleash such a disproportionate reaction.  God forbid anyone actually have a legitimate disagreement with these people!

Finances & Priorities
New coaching hires and football scholarships have been big news on Bison Hill this year.  The incoming freshman class will be the biggest ever, which is wonderful.  Yet some people are concerned that the administration is scrimping in basic core area courses by increasing class sizes rather than approving departmental recommendations for additional faculty.  Of course, these challenges are not unique to OBU and don't necessarily impinge on academic freedom or ethical administration.  But more paying students should mean more paid professors.  Almost all alumni agree that small classes and top-notch professors are what made OBU great.  Let's not renege on those cornerstones of OBU's greatness!  And, as an adjunct instructor myself, I have to say: It's not the same.  If there are more adjuncts than ever teaching basic courses, that will be a shame.

Kentucky Baptist Convention/Colleges
Even as many non-denominational and non-Baptist evangelical colleges are doing quite well by rank, reputation, and recognition, what remains of Baptist academia is struggling -- almost across the board.  Kentucky Baptists will soon have a unique opportunity to either kick out or fully take over one of its colleges, Campbellsville University.  We've been so focused on following the fundamentalist power grabs at Shorter University and Cedarville University that we've lost sight of what we know to be the source of that power: the precise legal relationship between Baptist colleges and their state conventions.  More on that story as it unfolds.

OBU Chapel/Ideology
We spoke recently about what a sensible person might perceive as a lack of ideological, theological, and political diversity among the speakers who are invited to the Raley Chapel pulpit.  My co-editor, Veronica Risinger, wants to weigh in on the issue... As soon as she finishes the coursework for her seminary degree.

Christian Spirituality
Believe it or not, I've had a resurgent interest in spirituality of late.  It's very personal to me and may be of little interest to anyone else.  But I might, from time to time, share resources that I've found compelling.

At the present time, blog readership is high and interest seems high as well.  But I do plan on taking most of the summer off.  We'll have some book reviews and respond to significant OBU and Baptist news, of course.  But fewer people pay attention, and I need a break.  Until then, however, we're going full force!  I expect the next few weeks to be some of the most exciting in Save OBU's history.

God bless all of you.

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