Wednesday, April 23, 2014

What is Going On At Cedarville University?

This comes from an underground student newspaper called The Ventriloquist that has been critical of the administration of this very conservative Christian college:

On April 23, distribution of the April issue of The Ventriloquist was forcefully shut down by Cedarville University president Dr. Thomas White and VP of Student Life Jonathan Wood.

As usual, distributors were set up outside the DMC to pass out copies to students leaving the university's mandatory chapel service. Before chapel was dismissed, White and Wood walked around the distribution stations confiscating papers. Wood forcefully removed papers from the hands of at least one distributor.

When queried, White and Wood stated that The Ventriloquist required prior permission to distribute the issue. Per the student handbook (available online in PDF format here), the only activity that specifically requires prior permission is a "demonstration." The handbook does not provide a definition of "demonstration," but The Ventriloquist has distributed twelve issues in similar fashion over the course of the last four years with no warning or retribution from university staff.

The move to shut down The Ventriloquist is likely the latest in a series of shifts towards right-wing religious fundamentalism by the new administration. Over the past year and a half, the university has seen large-scale changes, including a new president, several new vice presidents, new organizational structure, and the departure of several administrators, 12 Bible faculty, and 30+ staff. White has also moved to alter the doctrinal statement and shifted to a strictly complementarian stance; the university no longer permits male students to enroll in Bible classes taught by women.

I can't imagine a college president running around campus trying to forcibly remove a dissenting newspaper from the hands of students.

I had actually thought that Cedarville was moving closer to the evangelical mainstream, but it now looks like the school is returning to its fundamentalist Baptist roots.

5 comments:

sitguidelines said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nance McCown said...

Our son is graduating from Cedarville in 10 days, and during his time there has gone from mild concern to outrage over changes brought by the administration. He actually considered transferring for his senior year, but would have had to add at least another semester of coursework to graduate. I can't really describe the level of relief he is feeling over closing the door on that chapter of his
life due to these changes. It is dismaying and even alarming to see some of the policy decisons.

drrdeec said...

What is sad is that when the college administration behaves in this heavy-handed way, they further discredit themselves. When you believe in what you are doing from a leadership standpoint, you do not crush dissent (or try to crush dissent), but rather, are willing to listen and dialogue in the confidence that what you are doing is the right thing. Totalitarian-like behavior actually makes an administration look afraid and will actually increase one's "opposition's" sense that its resistance is right.

Gdog said...

The inflammatory language in the blog tells me all I need to know about your bias. The incident may have occurred, but I suspect that there's a larger story that would frame it quite differently. This sort of rhetoric doesn't contribute positively to "what is going on at CU." It only twists it like a bad parody. If someone is unhappy with CU or any other such institution, there are plenty of options elsewhere.

John Fea said...

Gdog: Thanks for the post. Not sure if the so-called "inflammatory" language you are talking about comes from my words or the words of the student newspaper? Just out of curiosity, are you a CU alum?