Are you listening, Bob Jones University?

Are you listening, Bob Jones University? February 27, 2014

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As most of you know, the on-again-off-again saga of the GRACE investigation of the handling of allegations of sex abuse at Bob Jones University (BJU) continues. (For more/background, see my post Bob Jones University shuts down year-long investigation of sexual abuse on its campus.)

When recently BJU rehired GRACE, I remained silent on the matter, as I did when BJU first hired GRACE and throughout GRACE’s investigation. Why? Because I don’t know GRACE. The only thing I know about GRACE is that BJU hired them to ultimately issue a report on BJU. Not exactly a ringing endorsement. GRACE stands for Godly Response to Abuse in a Christian Environment. I don’t want a “Godly” response to abuse; I have no idea what that even means (and almost never like what it really means). I want a correct response to abuse.

To be clear, I have no reason whatsoever to doubt GRACE’s integrity. I of course remain as hopeful as anyone that they and BJU do the right thing. I certainly never discouraged anyone from talking to GRACE. I just didn’t (despite some well-meaning pressure to) encourage it. I didn’t have enough information to do that.

So we’ll see what happens. (My vote for what happens? I’d guess that GRACE’s final report is extremely careful to never, ever, for one single moment, talk about anything outside of how, in the future, BJU should handle allegations of sexual abuse on its campus. The GRACE report will be a policy recommendation, and nothing else. That is what BJU hired GRACE to deliver, and that is what I’d guess GRACE promised to limit itself to delivering. So ultimately the whole thing will end up exactly as BJU has always known it would: as a perceived much ado about nothing. Total anti-climax. New policy and procedures. That’s it. Everybody move along. Nothing to see here. And just like that, BJU will have done again what it’s been doing since 1927: laying low, letting the storm pass, and getting back to its secretive, terrible business.)

Last week I got in the below. It was was written by a person I trust. I’m sharing it as a simple reminder of what the whole BJU-GRACE thing is really—or is really supposed to be—all about.

John,

Thank you again for talking about the latest BJU scandal on your blog. It’s refreshing to hear non-IFB Christians react to the insanity at Bob Jones and reminds all of us survivors that we are not crazy for thinking things there are very, very wrong.

I wanted to add another story to your growing pile of evidence of the crazy:

When I was a student at Bob Jones, one of the girls in my prayer group (each section of three or four rooms is grouped together so that the students [3 or 4 to a room] can meet together at night for a 15-minute devotion and prayer time) was raped by a male student on campus. Because she did not report it immediately afterward, when it came to light she was told that the sex must have been consensual since she hadn’t told anyone, and therefore she was expelled from school. I didn’t find out about this until much later, years after I had left Bob Jones, but I wasn’t remotely surprised.

When a student is expelled from Bob Jones, he/she is immediately placed on watch. This means that a hall leader (senior student who is a “spiritual leader” for 1/6 of a dorm) is with that person at all times.  The expelled student is not permitted to speak to other students, and is sent back to his/her dorm room to pack up all of his/her belongings while waiting for parents to arrive. The expelled student isn’t even allowed to use the restroom alone – the hall leader stands outside the stall while the expelled student takes care of business.

I was never expelled, but I can imagine that this is a humiliating experience to undergo, and it leaves the rest of the campus in the dark as to why the person was expelled. I had a roommate get expelled (they call it “shipped” at Bob Jones) one year; she got up at the 6:55 wake-up bell with the rest of us, but by the time I returned to my dorm room at the end of the day she and all of her stuff was gone, as if she had never existed. No one ever explained to us why she was gone.


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