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A Time To Speak

A time to pluck up that which is planted. . .

Ecclesiastes 3:2b


Chapter Fifteen

In which the chaos spreads

Alecia

The school's response to the sudden onslaught of criticism surprised me. They did nothing. I think they thought it would all just go away.

But in the years since I had been a student on campus at FCU, a lot of things had changed. The world had become more digitized, more instant. In my day cell phones were unknown; now every student had one. A very, very few students in the eighties had brought electronic word processors to class to help them take notes, but now, most students had tablets or mini-laptops to serve the same purpose. Everyone was so connected, and so they were much more transparent. Nobody could be sure that someone, somewhere didn't have a cell phone secretly recording at any time. And one student's experience with the school could, and would, quickly become public knowledge, all through the power of electronics.

The school, to its credit, had recognized the changing technology, and their public relations policy sensibly took social media into account. The new rule was to never respond. Don't engage, we were told. Do not answer. Do not try to defend the school in a public forum, because anything said publicly, even something positive, could be taken out of context and used to attack the school and its reputation at a later date. We were absolutely not to take the defense of the university into our own hands, but to let the public relations department take the lead and respond publicly when needed.

Really, I wasn't highly motivated to protect the school at that point anyway. I was not familiar with Katrina's story until she put it on the Victor's page, but I had heard enough about Dr. Stern and Dr. Robinson to realize that it was probably true. Katrina herself could be annoying, with her constant complaints of maltreatment by the school, but even so her account had a strong ring of truth to it.

I prayed this would be the start of a turnaround for the school, a time for all the faculty to search our collective hearts and see where we might have hurt students whom God had called us to serve. I knew the administration was watching the Victor's page, because they occasionally made reference to it in our faculty/staff weekly meetings, and I hoped that they were also taking notes.

That particular thread on Victor's stayed wildly active for about two weeks, with multiple calls of support for Katrina and calls of condemnation for Foothills. After the two weeks were gone, not many comments or posts were being made more. I began to think that maybe FCU had managed to outlive Katrina's story, that their strategy had been effective, but then one day, a new thread was started:

Regina

Abuse in the Christian school environment-what have you seen? FCU is not the only Christian institution to blame the victims of abuse instead of perpetrators. Have you ever been shamed for being abused? Were you made to feel it was your fault? It's okay to name names and own your truth. Nobody should feel afraid to speak up.


Predictably, Peter was the first one to post a response.

Peter

I went to seminars held by the Fundamentalist Minister's League when I was a teenager. Anybody else remember those? Those seminars were textbook examples of blaming women for being raped, because they spent so much time talking about how the clothes a woman wears can make a man lust after her.


Neville

Yes, I remember going to a couple of those while I was at FCU. They were all just a cover for victim shaming.


Faith

I loved those seminars whenever they came to our town. My friends from school and I would all go together, every night, and sit together for each service. The lead speaker usually had such interesting stories to tell about his time in ministry and how the principles in God's Word could be applied to every situation he faced.


Peter

Faith, did you actually LISTEN to ANYTHING they said about rape and rape victims?


Craig

What does this have to do with Foothills? I thought this was a page about our experiences at FCU, not about bashing other Christian organizations.


Regina

What if those other organizations deserve it, Craig? If we see evil being carried out, aren't we supposed to oppose it? And anyway, FML is tied in to FCU. A lot of the FCU faculty taught the FML sessions.


Stan

FML—get it? Why did they have to pick those initials?


Regina

And FML is also tied in to Servant's Christian College, as well as a number of fundamentalist Christian churches. But everything comes back to FCU sooner or later. Everything.


Lee

I've said before, and I'll say it again: not everything in the fundamentalist world is tied into FCU. That's your own warped perspective.


Craig

If you want to complain about FML, go start an anti-FML page somewhere. This is supposed to be about FCU.


Katrina

Craig, I asked Regina to start this thread because I knew there had to be other abuse victims out there, victims who were abused by FCU even though they never attended the school. FCU has tentacles reaching out everywhere in the fundamentalist Christian world, because it trains so many pastors and other Christian leaders in that world. FML is just one branch. There are others. And all of them harbor abuse. It's the way their system is set up.


Lee

Katrina and Regina, there is no "system" throughout the fundamentalist world. There's just different branches, and they don't all even come from the same tree.


Stan

I think I still have a T-shirt with that slogan, "Change Your World With FML" on it somewhere. Anybody dare me to dig it up and wear it on campus?


Craig

And I also think it's pretty lousy to spread stories about people who aren't here to defend themselves. Dr. Stern has been dead for two years, so he can't tell us why he did his counseling and teaching the way he did.


Dennis

I agree with Craig. This page has gotten way too negative.


Faith

My husband and I have our T-shirts too, Stan! We still wear them to church picnics when we go to the big state park near our house.


Stan

Seriously?


John

Don't wear that shirt, Faith.


Regina

We could go on for days and days about all the Christian organizations that tie in to Foothills somehow and the damage they've caused for countless people. It's good for people to see who they are. And shutting down an abuse victim just because they don't meet your criteria for a credible story is inappropriate, Craig.


Craig

I'm not shutting her down, Regina. Hell, she's the one who's come on here and told us all about her abuse. Who's shutting down anyone? Not me, or else Katrina wouldn't have been allowed to come in here and start talking about a dead man who's not around to give his side of the story. If she wants to tell her abuse story, let her say it without naming names. Did Dr. Stern ever go to trial for what he did? Was his teaching even illegal? It's not illegal to teach stupid stuff, it's just really annoying when you have to pay for it.


Dennis

This would be a good time to tell a joke. We really need to lighten up around here.


Katrina

I can't believe you would say that, Craig. I had to go to years of therapy for what Dr. Stern, Dr. Robinson, and other teachers at FCU put me through. And I went to the FML seminars once too, and had to leave halfway through. What they taught about blaming the victims was triggering me.


Dennis

You know what I like about plumbing? It's the only job where you get to take a leak and fix it at the same time.


Craig

Katrina, about all that therapy you've had? It hasn't worked.


Faith

Why shouldn't I wear the FML t-shirt, John?


Katrina

I have now blocked Craig so that I do not have to read his hateful words any more. Please keep in mind, if you post on this thread, that Craig and I can no longer see what each other is writing.


I couldn't believe what I was reading. What had happened to our page? The friendly banter was gone. There were no more amusing stories from our days at college, no sense of camaraderie, no good natured teasing back and forth. The page was quickly being hijacked into a constant stream of blame, anger, and yes, hate. We needed a moderator. We needed one now.