A time to rend. . .
Katrina wasn't as whiny as I thought she was at first. She went a little overboard sometimes, but she had good reason to complain about the school, and every time I talked to her about her experiences, my respect for her grew. She had been through so much, and tried so hard, with grace and poise, to overcome every obstacle thrown in her path. It was impossible not to respect her after seeing the way she wanted to reach out to others.
And Regina was a born administrator. She could get people fired up about an idea or cause, get them organized, and help them be an effective voice for change in a public arena in no time. It was Regina who urged everyone who was concerned about the issue of abuse in Christian schools to start making their opinion known on Facebook pages and other public venues. She was the one who said it would be a great idea to flood the FCU Facebook page with comments about Dr. Stern and Dr. Robinson, so that any prospective student who checked it out would be sure to hear the truth about how the school treated people. She was the one who prompted us to do the same thing on the FCU page that was off of Facebook, and also on the FCU Alumni site.
The petition—well, was my idea, but Regina loved it. She said that having a large number of names on a petition like that, given to the university, would be impossible for them to ignore, because, like any school, FCU needed money. With the threat of angry alumni and supporters withdrawing their financial support, the school would have to listen, and then it would have to change. We would send the completed petition with all the signatures to the university first. Then we would also publicize it on Facebook and send it to as many news organizations as possible, in order to keep up the pressure on FCU. Eventually they would have to cave. Wouldn't they?
Honestly, I had my doubts. The school had always said that it would not recognize petitions by students or anyone else. But it was worth a try, and it would raise awareness about the issue.
By now, I was spending most of my time on FCU Overcomers every day, instead of on FCU Victors. The Overcomers page was a page dedicated to collecting and publishing stories of abuse in the world of Christian fundamentalism, especially FCU and its satellite schools and churches. Katrina had posted her stories of abuse on the page to begin with, in order to help people feel comfortable to share their own. Regina read the stories posted there and gave advice on how those victims should pursue justice for what had happened to them. Stan, Neville and I all had administrator rights, because there were so many active threads and so many posts being made.
Moderating on that page was how I met Bonita, another abuse survivor.
Bonita was . . . interesting. By now I had heard so many abuse stories that I had begun to separate the victims out into groups. Maybe that was wrong, but it was what I did, without meaning to. Some victims were quiet, saying almost nothing about their abuse for a long time. Others were calm and matter of fact, giving details in a deceptively calm way. And some were a little over the top. They would tell you what they had suffered, where, when, how it happened, who did it, and relive every moment in excruciating detail. Bonita was like that, but on steroids. She didn't have just a page talking about her abuse; she had an entire web site about it, with a dozen separate pages.
Bonita had been a student in a Christian college that was so strict, it made Servant's look like a den of sin. Her alma mater, High Plains Christian College, was small compared to FCU, but it had a lot of influence in certain circles. And Bonita had no problem calling out the faculty and staff of High Plains for the abuse they had inflicted on her. I was amazed when I saw on her web site that she had listed a handful of men by name and picture and labeled them as sex abusers, even though they had never actually been tried for a crime, let alone convicted. I even mentioned my concerns to Reg.
Bonita posts a lot of stuff on her wall, even stuff about people who haven't been convicted of anything. There's a lot in there that she can't really verify in any way, things that only she experienced. I believe what she says, but couldn't she get in a lot of trouble for doing that?
You don't believe her, Win? You don't think she's telling the truth?
No, I said that I DO believe her. I believe what she says happened to her, but if those guys haven't been convicted of a crime, she could get in a huge amount of trouble.
She's willing to take that chance. Our job is just to listen to her and make sure she has a safe place where she can talk.
Her whole website was a safe place for her to talk, and she used it plenty; but I didn't want to say that to Reg.
She posts some of it on the Overcomers page, too. Could we get in trouble for allowing her to put it up?
No, I don't think we really have to worry about that. Our main goal is to make sure that the students who survived that time know that it's okay to talk about what happened, and that it was not their fault.
I hesitated to the type the next words; Reg definitely wouldn't like them.
Okay . . . . . BUT that doesn't mean we have to allow Bonita to post whatever she feels like. We can put limits on it, like if we say that she can say that certain things happened, but not name names. I'm just really worried we're going to get sued if we're not careful.
We're doing a good thing here, Win. Just believe the victims, OK? And let them know you really support them. That's all you really have to do.
You know I believe them.
Good. Katrina has been feeling down lately. I think she thinks that people are talking about her behind her back, saying that she must be exaggerating what happened to her, or that her counseling at FCU with Dr. Robinson wasn't as bad as she made it out to be.
I think it was pretty bad.
Katrina went on and on about it sometimes, but that didn't really bother me. I knew she was telling the truth.
There are some people out there, people determined to destroy her, saying that she wasn't even a student when she says she was. She's getting pretty frustrated. She doesn't know why they would say that.
I remembered what Alecia had told John and me.
She was there, but she went by a different name, a nickname or something. Maybe that's why they're confused. Alecia told me about it.
Alecia remembers her? They were there at the same time? That's interesting.
Yes, they were in the same prayer group when Katrina was a freshman.
What does Alecia remember about her, exactly?
I thought for a moment.
Not a lot. She said she couldn't take a joke in college, and it looked like she's the same way now. She said she was going overboard on the abuse stories.
A JOKE? She thought Katrina's abuse was A JOKE??????
No, that's not what she said. I think she believes Katrina, but she said she whines a lot.
That's EXACTLY how FCU ALWAYS takes stories of abuse. They make it sound like the victim is whiny and complaining, and that the school did nothing wrong. It makes me so mad. An abuse victim comes forward and says what happened to them, the school refuses to listen to them and says they're bitter or something like that, and then they have the nerve to say that the victim is going overboard when they lash out in anger? It all has to stop. It has to stop NOW.
The Victors page was getting worse and worse every day, with sniping and bitching and people just being asses in general. There really wasn't much going on any more, except for people who wanted to complain about the school. They would attack absolutely anything that anybody threw out there. I mean, anything.
Just for the fun of it, I decided to do a little experiment. I found a picture of some flowers on front campus. They were pansies, I think, in lots of different colors-blue, pink, red, white, black, and yellow. They were pretty, if you like flowers. But I was only interested in two of the colors. I cropped out all the flowers except for the black ones and white ones, and then I photoshopped what was left so there was big gap between the two colors of flowers. I posted that picture in a new thread.
Look at the flowers you'll find front campus at FCU. Welcome back to the 1950's. Some things never change.
And then I waited. Sure enough, the idiocy started:
Great, it's not enough that they segregated people, now they have to segregate even the flowers in the landscaping? How dare you try to carry on your racist past in such an underhanded way, FCU?
Future students, this is the treatment you can expect if you go to FCU. Nothing there ever changes. Save your money and go to a state college instead. I hope those flowers wither and die even faster than the school does.
State colleges might have black and white flowers on campus too, but they don't have the racist history FCU does. The school should never have planted those flowers that way. They're sending out a subtle message: African American students will never be the equal of white students. Segregation may have officially ended on paper, but God help you if cross that line on campus in real life.
That's exactly how they treat anyone who's not a privileged white male: African-Americans, women, gays, etc., stay in your places, right where God put you. There it is, right there in that picture. Nothing more needs to be said. The picture speaks for itself.
Is it possible that they just planted some flowers and thought they looked good together? Why does it always have to be something evil on the school's part?
No, that's not possible. No. NO. NO! NOTHING at FCU is ever what it seems to be. They know their message of racial hate is no longer acceptable, but they still believe it, so they show it in subtle ways whenever they can.
You're being ridiculous. Plenty of other places, even other schools with a racist past, have different colors of flowers together. Even black and white flowers. Or red and white. Next you're going to complain that they can't plant white flowers next to brown tree roots because of the implied racist connotations.
Other places can plant flowers that way. FCU, with its racist past, can't. They have to be much more careful in the way they handle race issues.
That's the stupidest argument I've ever heard. We're talking about flowers here, not deciding where students can sit on the bus. What's next? What will you do if they decide to serve chocolate ice cream from one dispenser and vanilla ice cream from another one?
Only a FIC would compare different flavors of ice cream to the discrimination suffered by thousands of minority students at FCU over the years. Are you sure you're not on their payroll, Starr?
She is, but she'll never admit it.
I like my ice cream swirled, with sprinkles. What does that make me?
You'd never be allowed to eat it at FCU that way.
Oh good grief.
All of this, and none of them had even bothered to see if the pictures I had posted were even real. None of them had done one second of real research, or anything that could be considered anything close to it. They thought the school was nuts, but they hadn't been listening to themselves in a long time, and they didn't even want to try. It was time to start cutting some whack jobs off of my friends list.