For a more than a decade now, I have been in your debt. Some of you played such an outsized role in my intellectual and personal development that I simply cannot overstate how much your teaching and mentorship meant to me. With every bit of news I've received from Bison Hill over the years, I always think of how it impacts you first.
I started this effort with you in mind, because you have the most to gain if we do actually manage to end BGCO control over OBU. But I am aware that none of you is free to be an active part of this effort. I completely understand and respect that fact. We will lean on alumni, students, parents, donors, and BGCO messengers to be leaders and activists.
However, the last thing I want to do is put any of you in a more precarious situation than the one in which you already find yourselves. So if, for any reason, our effort here is actually counterproductive to the change we seek, please let us know. I am very confident that I am right about my main point: that the OBU-BGCO relationship is mostly bad for most everyone. But if I am wrong, and the intellectual atmosphere suits you perfectly fine, do not hesitate to let me know. Your views would carry considerable weight with me.
I welcome your thoughts on any of the issues I raise on the blog. Of course, I will keep your correspondence in the strictest confidence.
As a freshman, I learned more in the first six weeks of Slayden Yarbrough's Old Testament survey class than I did in 18 years of church and Sunday school. Don Wester's philosophy class was one of the first and most significant intellectually invigorating experiences of my life. It is absolutely heartbreaking to me that professors like these would never be hired at OBU today. So many of you enriched my college experience immensely. I wish you could stay at OBU forever so that generations of students can have the same wonderful experiences I had. But since none of you will be there forever, I'll settle for the next best thing: If OBU could finally be free from BGCO control, it would be assured that the future would be as bright as -- maybe even brighter than -- the past.
You have my very best wishes.
Jacob Lupfer '02
- Be aware of just how radically the SBC and state conventions have moved away from the academic (and Baptist) ideals of academic freedom, soul competency, and the liberty of the conscience in the past 30 years.
- Know the history of how other Baptist schools disaffiliated with their state conventions (Baylor, Wake Forest, Furman, Mercer, Stetson, the University of Richmond, William Jewell College, etc).
- Be aware of the professional opportunities for academics in CBF-affiliated and other more intellectually hospitable Christian colleges, in case you are unjustly terminated.
- Be aware of efforts in other Baptist schools in which fundamentalist state convention leaders have pressured college trustees and administrators to require professors to sign "faith" and "lifestyle" statements.
- Stand up against invasive, unethical, and fundamentalist polices. Much can be done at the faculty council level. Collective action by very committed and outspoken people goes a long way. They can't fire all of you... Can they?
- When you feel your academic integrity and autonomy threatened, reach out to senior or retired colleagues. If they've been in Baptist higher education for any length of time, chances are they've experienced this before.
- I am unsure what kinds of things you can actually do to help in this effort. If you have ideas, let me know, and I will add them to this list. In the meantime, just know that there are students and alumni who desperately want to preserve OBU's great liberal arts tradition.