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A Time To Speak

Try to remember the kind of September
When life was slow and oh so mellow. . .

Tom Jones/Harvey Schmidt


Chapter Four

In which Alecia and Win make contact and share memories

Win

Racist. Rigid. Legalistic. Rules-oriented, deceptive, and hypocritical. These are all words often used to describe Foothills Christian University, sometimes even by people who like the school, or at least like parts of it. But of course none of these descriptions were allowed on the FCU Facebook page.

There were links to chapel messages, pictures of the latest landscaping, and updates about their fundraising drive for a new student center. There was an occasional post from a faculty member announcing their latest professional recognition by the association of something or other, and a long list of grateful grads would like that comment and add in how much that particular teacher had meant to them. It was all very upbeat, cheerful, and positive. But there wasn't much that was real. Stories about the arbitrary rule enforcement, the judgments quickly passed on anyone who stood out as different, chapel messages that had made us all cringe in embarrassment—posts about any of these things were quickly hidden, or even deleted altogether if they were really offensive. The school's Facebook page was all about promoting the school.

In a way I didn't blame them. It was their page, and they had a right to control what went on it. But there was nowhere for people to go if they wanted to say something about the school that was even remotely critical. The school has never taken criticism well.

So the Facebook page for what had been called The World's Most Unique University was really The Most Boring Page On Earth, at least for those of us who wanted to talk about all our experiences at the school, not just the Mayberry moments.

It was around this time that I saw Alecia's name show up on one of the posts—I think she was talking about the heavy snowfall they had just had on campus—and I immediately friended her and sent her a message. She seemed happy to receive my request. We started messaging back and forth.

Win

Hi Alecia! Remember me? You were fun to work with in the cafetorium. I can still smell the biscuits we used to make, and I remember those wonderful cream puffs they used to serve at Sunday dinners. Do they still make those? I hope everything is going well for you.


Alecia

Of course I remember you, Win! You were so kind to me when I first started assisting in the cafetorium. I'm still here at FCU, where I never thought I'd end up teaching, but the Lord is good. Never married, no kids, but I spoil my cats as much as I can! It's good to see you here.

Where are you serving now, and what is the Lord doing in your life? I see that you married Clark-congratulations!

P.S. I'll send you the recipe for the cream puffs if you think you might like it. Yes, they still make them, and they still have all the other wonderful desserts too!!! My waistline shows it-ha ha!



Let me stop right here and say that Alecia was definitely a FIC. Not a FIC in the sense that she had attended FCU, but a FIC in the sense that she was one of those kids who took the rules very seriously. I don't remember seeing her ever break even one of them, and that's pretty hard to do at Foothills Christian University.

I take it back. One time she and I went to lunch together and she had forgotten her student ID card, so I had her sneak in one of the side doors and join the food line from there. It was no big deal. Everybody forgot their ID card sometimes and it wasn't like there was a long line of off-campus people trying to sneak in and steal our food. Alecia didn't have her card, and she didn't have time to run back and get it from her dorm room, so she went in a different door than usual and got in the exact same line.

The next day she turned herself in to the administration.

I think she got fifteen demerits, a number I'm sure they pulled out of thin air, because turning yourself in for sneaking into a meal had to be a first, even for the disciplinary committee.

But here's the important thing: she didn't turn me in. Ever. And as far as I know she never turned anyone else in either. Unlike most true FICs, she only served as her own conscience, and that made her all right in my book. A little strange, but all right.

So Alecia and I started corresponding regularly, and sharing some of our memories, always in a private message. Since she was still on faculty, she had to be careful about what she posted in public. And we had a lot of memories, since we had not only worked in the cafetorium together, but also ended up in the same prayer group my senior year. (Newbie note: a prayer group is a group of about four rooms that are assigned to meet for prayer time and Bible reading most nights of the week. Attendance at prayer group, like everything else at Foothills, is not optional.)

Win

Who was that guy who worked with us in the cafetorium and put sugar in the salt shakers on half the tables just before Sunday lunch one week? Remember him? The dean of students laughed so hard when he heard that he only got a warning instead of all the demerits.


Alecia

I know who you mean-- Harry Weisman. He graduated and worked on staff here for awhile, then he left to pursue his master's somewhere else. We still keep in touch.


The next day:

Alecia

I was just thinking about the time that my room leader put goldfish in all the toilets on our floor, and nobody could use the toilets for the longest time. Nobody wanted to be the one to flush one of those poor little things down the drain!


Win

Julie? That was Julie? I always thought it was Lynn.


Alecia

No, Julie admitted it to me the next year. It was so dumb that it was actually kind of funny!


Win

Yeah, I heard one of the girls on the hall actually fished out of one of the goldfish and put it in a bowl she had in her room, and it was her pet from then on. Gross!!!!!!


Alecia

Julie came here for a class reunion a couple of years and we had a good time catching up. Her oldest son wants to come here as music education major, and I told Julie I'd be his campus mom if he wants me to be.


Win

Do you remember the time our hall leader called a hall meeting and had us all cram into one room together instead of sitting out in the hallway? Everybody jammed themselves into the bunk beds, sat on the floor, got on top of the dressers, opened the closet doors and sat in there too, with the doors open. We could barely move, but it was fun!


Alecia

Unless you were one of the ones sitting underneath the bed that broke!


At least messaging back and forth with Alecia, with nothing showing on the Alumni page, gave us a chance to talk honestly about some moments at Foothills that weren't quite so upbeat, and definitely not "showroom" kind of material for the school.

Alecia

Do you know the Jimmy Reese who posted that story about the parties going on in the guys' dorm at night? I had to remove that post, and I'm afraid I'll have to block him soon. He keeps posting stories that I'm sure never happened or are exaggerated, and even if they did happen, this is not the right forum to bring them up.


Win

Yes, I knew Jimmy a little. He was my roommate's cousin the year that went on. Jimmy got turned down for being a room leader that year, because his room leader said Jimmy kept leaving his shoes out in the middle of the room each night instead of putting them away in the closet. So Jimmy got put on spiritual probation. When the dorm supervisor told him he was on probation, he got so mad that he told the sup about the parties half the guys in his prayer group were having, including the prayer group leader, staying up until two in the morning and listening to uncheckable music in the empty room at the end of the hall. The dorm sup moved Jimmy out of his room and made him be in a room with the floor monitor, and the rest of that semester he got demerits practically every time he breathed. I'll never know how he avoided getting expelled. He was up to 140 demerits by finals.


Alecia

They weren't really partying, were they? I find that hard to believe. The hall monitor would have noticed.


` Win

Oh, they were partying, all right. They got caught sneaking out of the dorm on one of those nights, just before the semester ended. They even had beer with them. They all got expelled, and the dorm sup apologized to Jimmy for doubting him. But they never took the spiritual probation off of his record, and he's been pretty mad about it ever since then. He didn't come back the next year.


Alecia

That's unfortunate. It's like the girl on my hall one year who had her clothes taken while she was in the shower. You remember how that happened to all of us, right? It was a joke they played on all the freshmen, to take their towels while they were in the shower and see how they reacted. Most of the time the girl just stayed in the shower and yelled for a few minutes until someone would bring their clothes back to them. It was funny. We all did it, and we all had it done to us. But this particular girl on my hall cried and cried and cried even after she got her clothes back, and she complained to the hall monitor about it. All of her roommates were written up for horseplay and got twenty-five demerits, even though this roommate had helped pull the same prank on other girls already. I always thought that was very unfair of the hall monitor, but of course there was nothing the roommates could do about it.


Win

Nothing like that happened on our hall. But there was a girl in our dorm who fainted while she was in the shower, and they had to call an ambulance to come and get her, because she was bleeding all over the place. Turned out she was having a miscarriage, right there in the shower stall. She got expelled before she was even out of the hospital.


Alecia

I'll never understand why students come to this school if they're not willing to abide by the rules we have in place. They know the rules when they come in.


Win

She didn't have any choice. She was one of those kids whose parents would only pay for Foothills. Can you imagine how awful it would be, to have a miscarriage and have to tell your parents you just got expelled, and why?


Alecia

It's very sad that she would put herself in that position.


Win

You would think she was punished more than enough, just having the miscarriage. Expelling her like that was just cruel. They could have let her just withdraw.


Alecia never answered that message, and I wasn't sure if it was because she disagreed with me, or if she agreed but didn't feel safe to say so. I understood. At Foothills Christian University, if you disagree with the administration it's best not to say so, even in a private message between friends.