- Posted April 27, 2012 by
Greenville, South Carolina
Part 1: Bob Jones University expels a senior nine days before graduation.
Graduation is coming … at least it was for me, until I was expelled from Bob Jones University on April 24, 2012, nine days before my graduation. This is part one of my story.
I grew up in Bradenton, Florida where I attended Community Baptist Church and Community Christian School my entire life. Community Baptist Church is an independent, fundamental, Baptist church within the Bob Jones University network. So from a very young age I knew that I was going to attend BJU in Greenville, South Carolina because that was what was expected of me.
I graduated from high school in 2006 and was immediately accepted into BJU. I attended BJU from 2006 to 2009 and then, I stayed out of school working full time from 2009 through the first semester of 2010 to save enough money to return to school. I returned the second semester of 2010 expecting to finish my degree in a year and a half.
Little did I know my plans would soon be changed forever.
The beginning of the end began the first semester of 2011. I came across some articles online about a scandal that was happening in Concord, New Hampshire at Trinity Baptist Church. I began to research what was happening and I soon discovered that there were significant issues with the former pastor.
Reverend Chuck Phelps was the pastor at Trinity Baptist Church when Ernest Willis, a 35-year-old man and member of the church, raped Tina Anderson, a 15-year-old member of the same church.
This story attracted so much national media attention that ABC’s “20/20” did an investigation on the abuse. The 20/20 investigation can be seen here: http://abcnews.go.com/2020/video/scarred-childhood-13334532
From my research I learned that Chuck Phelps was still on the Board of Trustees at Bob Jones University. It really troubled me that this man was being allowed to continue as a board member in good standing. I felt that I had to speak out.
At first I posted links, articles, and even the 20/20 investigation link on my personal Facebook page but I was quickly reported to the Dean of Men’s office. I was called into his office and he told me point blank that I had to stop talking about the Chuck Phelps situation on my personal Facebook or I would be expelled.
I left his office and immediately created a Facebook page called Do Right BJU. (www.facebook.com/DoRightBJU) where I wrote anonymously about the Chuck Phelps situation and where I organized the first ever peaceful student protest at Bob Jones University.
I called on students, faculty, staff, and alumni to wear red in support of abuse victims. I also called on BJU to remove Chuck Phelps from the Board of Trustees and to establish some form of sexual abuse awareness at the school.
BJU announced that there would be no consequences for those students organizing or involved with the protest. (http://www2.sceneon7.com/entertainment/2011/dec/05/main-evnet-ar-2806346/)
The protest was held on December 12, 2011. A handful of BJU students along with a group of alumni gathered together to support victims of sexual abuse. Amazingly, all across the U.S. many BJU alumni wore red that day and changed with Facebook profile pictures to red to show support for the movement.
Because of Do Right BJU and the outspoken cries of concerned students and alumni, Chuck Phelps resigned and a committee was formed to investigate allegations of sexual abuse within BJU.
Everything was good, or so I thought. The goals of Do Right BJU had been accomplished. The semester ended and I thought it was over.
Little did I know that this was the beginning of the end concerning my education at BJU.
Part 2 of my story: http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-782218
Part 3 of my story: http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-782221