...a time to refrain from embracing. . .
Alecia messaged John and me on our little group page.
Katrina is really going off the deep end sometimes.
Why do you say that? She's just talking about what happened to her in the past.
Did you notice how she treated Craig? She accused him of shutting down a conversation that she hadn't even had yet.
I saw that. Craig wanted to talk about sports, and she turned it into another abuse thread. That's all we've had here lately. I'm sick of it.
You're sick of hearing about abuse, John?
She hadn't even told us about being molested, or almost molested, on campus up until now. But she told Craig that he couldn't stop her from telling her story. I wanted to ask her, what story?
Yeah, Win, I guess I am sick of it. I'd like to have a place where we don't have to talk about it all the time.
I'm sorry to say this, but Katrina is acting just like she did in college.
What? You knew her in college?
I didn't realize it for a while, but yes, I did. I believe I even told you about her once. She was the girl in my prayer group who cried so much when her towel was taken away from her in the shower, even though she had done the same thing to other girls already. She was so upset by having the same joke played on her that the floor monitor felt obligated to give out demerits for it.
How do you know it's her?
I didn't, not at first. She always has a dog as her profile pic, and she had a nickname she went by when I knew her. I didn't realize who it was until I started looking at her profile information and saw a picture. I went back and compared it to the yearbook picture to make sure.
Win, didn't you say you call her Fido because she's always howling about something somebody did to her?
That was before I got to know her. She's been through so much, you have no idea. She's an amazing person.
She still howls.
She's my friend, John. I wish you wouldn't talk about her that way.
Just then I saw another message coming in for me from Reg.
Sorry, guys, I have to go. Clark's going to wonder where his dinner is.
That was an exaggeration. Clark wasn't even home from work yet, but I wanted to get on the phone with Reg.
Sorry this conversation was so short.
You just got on here! We haven't heard much from you lately.
Talk to us again soon here. The Victor's page is getting so hostile to the school, I'm not sure how much longer I'll be allowed to participate in it.
I know I've been busy here lately, sorry. I'll get back on after dinner, okay? Talk to you soon.
But I never did get back in that group.
The faculty and staff members of FCU had a weekly meeting each Tuesday morning, in which we would cover matters that affected the school as a whole. It was less than a week after our last conversation with Win in our group that Dr. Seth decided to address the issue of the school's online reputation in one of these meetings.
"I want to take this time today to warn you faculty and staff members about FCU groups and FCU related groups which you will meet online, if you spend any time there at all, particularly on Facebook."
I had just taken out my phone to open up the Facebook app and see the latest threads on the Victor's page, but it seemed better not to do so right at that moment. I slipped it back in my purse.
"There are groups of bitter, warped graduates and former students online who are spreading vicious half-truths and distortions about the work we do here at Foothills Christian University. They are godless and rebellious, lovers of lies rather than lovers of that which is good and lovely, and you would do well to avoid them."
I thought of the angry alumni posting so much on the Victor's page. Some of them could certainly be described as bitter and vicious.
"These Facebook groups have mounted what can only be described as an all-out attack on our online presence. The leaders of these groups work together to systematically target one of our pages at a time and bombard it with posts and comments that they find informative, clever, or effective in tearing down the godly faculty members we have had serve with us in the past, and anyone who dares to question their message or their means is berated endlessly. They effectively stop all participation on that page. When that particular page is overwhelmed, they move on to the next. So far they have attacked our Facebook pages for the university, the academy, the elementary school, and the alumni page, as well as the pages of several of our sister ministries, including Amazing Faith Missions, Fundamentalist Minister's League, and Heavenly Manna."
I had not realized that the other FCU sites were under attack as well. No wonder the school felt that it had to speak to us about it. They would need help monitoring it all, or they would lose all ability to field questions and comments from the people who were their intended audiences. The PR machine was being overwhelmed.
"You deserve to know one thing about all the innuendoes you are hearing, the stories about cruel things said to particular students, hateful doctrines that were taught in class, things that we would never say to our students whom we love so much."
Dr. Seth leaned forward on his podium to emphasize his next point.
"None of the things they are saying has any truth to them. None at all."
I sat up, listening closely.
"None of our students has ever been told that they are a second class citizen just because they are from a difficult home situation. None of our students has ever been told that being abused or raped is their fault. We don't believe that. We wouldn't teach that. This university loves its students, and we would never do or say such unkind things."
I thought of Micah, and Katrina. I thought of the complaints I had heard over the years about Dr. Stern, and the many students who said they had been hurt by Dr. Robinson instead of helped by his counseling.
"We have the best faculty and staff in the world here, and the best faculty and staff deserve your best support. Starting today, I am going to ask all of our full time and part time employees to avoid the Facebook groups which exist solely to tear down FCU. Please don't go near them. Please don't engage with the participants of these groups. Please do not do anything to encourage their embittered souls to continue on with this rampage of hate. Love them, encourage them to godliness when you can, but keep a safe distance from them, for the sake of your own well being."
He means for the sake of our jobs, I mentally corrected him, and then was horrified that such an idea had crossed my mind. I pushed it away. But in FCU-speak Dr. Seth's message was clear: if we were found to be participating in these groups, our positions with the school would be in jeopardy.
"I'm going to list these groups, just to make sure we're all perfectly clear and on the same page here."
Dr. Seth fumbled for a minute, shuffling through several pages of notes on the podium until he found the right one.
"Let me make myself plain: if you are found to be an active participant in any of the following Facebook groups, your standing with the school will be in danger: FCU Victors, FML Survivors, Amazing Faith Avengers, Servant's Survivors, and FCU Pride."
Leaving the staff meeting, I ducked into the nearest bathroom, pulled out my phone, got on Facebook, and left the FCU Victor's page. Some things were just not worth risking my job for.
Finally, there was a moderator on the FCU Victors page. They had posted a new thread on the page, closed the thread, and then tagged it so that it was staying up at the top of the page for everyone in the group to see.
We would like to take the time here to remind everyone of the purpose of the FCU Victors page. As the page description says, this is a fun group to reminisce about our time at FCU, not to attack each other. While there is room for dissenting views about the school and our experiences there, this is not the place to begin or to advance an agenda of attacking the university, no matter how valid your complaint is. Please keep this a positive, encouraging place. Attacks on other people on the page will not be tolerated. Also, in the interest of fairness, please do not use the names of real people, either living or dead, if you relate an unpleasant experience that you had at the school.
It was a good try by the moderators, but I knew it wouldn't work. These people were just too fucked up. Regina started her own thread immediately underneath that one, only about ten minutes later.
It looks like the powers that be on this page have decided that we are not "nice". They've decided that we don't toe the line, that we don't play well in the sandbox. They want us to be quiet about the abuse that so many people suffered at FCU, to sit down, shut up, and go back to pretending that everything is okay in their little FU universe. But we're not going to do that. We are not going to be quiet. We are not going to back down. We are going to continue to speak out about the issues that matter to all of us here. I will probably be banned from this page for posting this message, but I want everyone here to know what is really going on here. The FCU Victors page has been taken over by people who are on FCU's payroll.
The FU universe. That's terrific! FU, Dr. Stern! FU, Dr. Robinson! And a giant FU to the moderators here, too!
Regina has started her own FCU page: FCU Overcomers! If you're tired of the constant censorship on FCU Victors, become an Overcomer instead!
Thank you, Regina, for starting another page where stories of abuse will be welcome and will be taken seriously. I'm going to join that group right now. I hope everyone here joins me.