LU#15: "Cold Duck Time"
vol. V, no. 137
Nov. 9, 1999
I'm not going to say much now, because I've got a lot to say later in the issue. This issue isn't as long as recent issues, but it's loaded.
The following is a letter that I've written and will send shortly to President Flatt, Dean McDowell, Provost Bledsoe, and the Babbler. I thought it only fitting to send a copy here.
President Flatt, Provost Bledsoe, etc.
I have withdrawn from Lipscomb University. This decision has not been an easy one, but I feel that it is my only real option. I am overcome by chronic depression brought on by my experience here this semester and will return home to Dallas to seek treatment. At the request of some of my teachers, who will remain unnamed, I am writing you this letter to voice my complaints and concerns about the school. Please read the following with care and understand that many of the students and faculty members on campus with whom I have spoken feel the same.
My problems with the school began with the decisions made by the administration and the Board of Directors regarding Professor Doug Varnado. I wrote the Babbler article about his resignation, and in the process of preparing to write, I discovered attitudes in the current administration regarding the student body and the faculty that are, at best, troubling. The sentiment was stated very clearly by President Flatt. When I asked him why no administrator had come forward and explained the situation and the Board's decision to the student body, he said, "To tell you the truth, Zach, there are 650 freshman on campus who have never heard of Doug Varnado, and they never will, so they don't care. The majority of the returning students either don't know that Doug is gone, or they don't care. So, if a minority of you, no matter how sizeable, are upset, so be it. You're upset." This statement speaks volumes about the current administration's callous and uncaring attitude towards the school that they supposedly lead, and the negative affect of such an attitude is blatantly apparent.
This school is very dependant on donations from alumni and other benefactors and, as a private school ineligible for federal endowments, will remain so for the entirety of its existence. If the administration displays to the student body through speech or behavior that it does not deem them important, the school will flounder in the next few decades as class after class finds some better expenditure of their wealth than a school that mistreated them and failed to respect them. While all schools, being institutions, are subject to the problems of institutions, of which financing is paramount, it is disheartening and offensive to see such an attitude among the leaders of a school which bears the name and proposes to support the ways of Christ.
Also, the student body has diversified signifigantly in the twenty-some years since those who are now administrators were students here. A signifigant portion of students coming into Lipscomb now have already had experiences and faced problems that most students twenty to twenty-five years ago would not face until after they had left the school, if ever. Examples of these problems are divorced parents, alcohol use, sex, and experimentation with illegal drugs. If they have not faced these problems personally, they have had friends and acquaintences in high school who have and therefore have experienced them vicariously. These students want these issues addressed, but they feel as if they will be shunned if they bring them to light. Also, approxiamately 25% of the students on campus are not from mainstream church of christ backgrounds, a large increase since the early to mid-seventies. These students are subjected daily to the rather strict teachings of the church of christ denomination and are made to feel spiritually inferior or doctrinally faulty. Finally, a large portion of the students I talked to were here because their parents sent them here. They have little or no faith of their own, and they didn't care to be here particulary. They find chapel and mandatory bible grueling and trite if not offensive. All of these students feel somewhat alienated by the image that the school proports, yet nothing is done to help these students or to adapt the school to changing times. Does the administration of this institution really believe that students who spent four years feeling uncomfortable, isolated, and shunned will donate money to the school in the future to maintain it? They shouldn't. If the collective leaders refuse to acknowledge that Lipscomb is no longer the same school it was in the seventies and make a change to accomodate the more diversified student body, then they must acknowledge that the end of this institution is in sight.
I fully understand that this is a difficult dilemma, and I am not so arrogant as to think that our current administration has failed to see the problem. Change is never easy, and certain factors about this particular school make it particularly challenging. For example, though in many ways mandatory chapel is foolish and counter-productive by reinforcing a negative attitude towards worship and religion in general, the school must maintain that policy because it is in the deed. Also, while offending and alienating current students endangers the school's future, moving too far to accomodate them, which would almost certainly be a move to the religious and social left, would offend the current benefactors and endanger the school's present. I do not come offering an easy solution; in all honesty, I fail to see any solution at all and will leave it to more experienced men and women than I to find one. However, the school's current method of communicating with the student body only deepens the problems and the resentment that the students feel towards the school. The students are intelligent people and most care about the school, or at least what the school can do for them. A huge portion of the problem might be alleviated if the administration would just talk to them. Explain to them what direction the school is moving in, how it plans to get there, and why it's going. They will feel better if they are at least privy to the process instead of feeling as if they are completely in the dark with no voice. They will feel better if they think someone in the administration cares what they think and how they feel.
I say all this with a certain fear that this letter will be tossed aside, that what I have said has been said before and was ignored, that the prevalant attitude of the administration is so firmly rooted that even this "wake-up call" will pass unnoticed. I know that certain faculty members have voiced similar concerns and have been chastized and then ignored. This fear prompts me never to return to Lipscomb. I consider it unconscienable to continue to support a school that bears such an attitude and the name of Christ even if it is only by my presence. I will continue to pray that some solution can be found and carried out before an institution that was once so great vanishes from the service of the Lord.
Zachary Hall Sutherland
I apologize for the length, but it's my last comment for a while, and I wanted to get it out. I also wanted everyone to know why I left, in case it doesn't run in the Babbler. Fond farewells to all of you. The wonderful thing about e-mail is that I can be on this forum and not at this school, but I think it best to stay away for a while. If you'd like to contact me for any reason, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you all for being the intelligent, thought-provoking people that you are. May the Lord bless you and keep you.
Zach Sutherland a.k.a. the echo of the VOICE (and yes, for the young lady that asked, I did get it from a John Irving novel)
In response to the disgusting "new mission statement" that you put on the website - For over a century Lipscomb has trained men and women to live Godly lives in the workplace and in the home. If you cannot handle that, or if you have problems with the decisions that the administration makes, then get out.
(Personally, I'd prefer to stay here, finish my education from the fine biology department, and comment on what I see. The statement has been reworded to display more tact. Thanks for your reply.) rg
Oscar, I agree, no more splintering. Let's leave the Instrumental music debate in the 19th century and move into the 21st Century where (hopefully) no one will lose a job over it.
Did anyone else find it fascinating that Byron, whose alter ego is Don Juan, who is famous for his
promiscuity and pedophilia, his maybe not so latent homosexuality, his gratuitous use of mockery and complex rhyme schemes for the sake of sound rather than sermon--that Byron is @minister.com? Oh, shit! I was talking about the poet, and he's probably dead by now. My apologies Byron.
Incidentally, I do agree with Byron Sommardahl about the use of "Fowl language." Consider the foul chicken and its constant, phallocentric, and unrestrained use of "COCK-a-doddle-do." What about the Whippoorwill? What sadistic Fowl would name itself after the injunction to Whip-poor-will? Southern male species have been know to pronounce it in gender-bending fashion: Whip-her-well!!! Nothing fowl could be more foul! I dare not repeat the fowl language of the Blew. . . er uh I mean the Blue-Footed Booby for fear of offending the decency of the loo readership.
Hello, all my lovely friends. Sorry I have not written in a while. I was too busy reading all your lovely comments on me, my life, and, my spelling. To all those who defended me, thank you. I sincerely appreciate it, since I was not there to defend myself. I just have a few comments to share with the LU today.
1)Ling: If you have nothing better to do than pick on my spelling, than I pity you.
2)Jackson: I would love to start a word of the day.
3)Bradley, Brewer, Kellam: Thanks for defending me.
4)TO CONDESCENDING: Thank you so much for pointing out all my errors. I needed someone to point out how whiny I sound. So I would just like to take this opportunity to thank you. Oh by the way, If you are going to take everything I said out of context, I would appreciate that you would quote me directly. And just one more thing...FUCK YOU!!! Yes I have a foul mouth. I never said that I did not when I was defending Brewer. I just said that it was a sin in judging other people. Basically all you guys that are picking me to pieces are judging me, and you do not even know who I am. All you know me as a freshman girl that likes to bitch, and if you ask my boyfriend, I am a little girl that bitches. I just thought, and maybe I was wrong, that the LU was some place where I could say a piece of my mind with out getting in trouble. I had NO CHOICE in coming here, but I am here, and I am actually trying to make the best of it, but unfortunately there are people like you that make it really difficult to do that. Now, I am done my bitching.
Yours until Lipscombized
A variety of things from last LU to comment on. First:
To Byron: Usually I can overlook spelling inconsistencies. But because of the regularity with which you used the term "fowl language", I feel compelled to let you know, for your own benefit and future reference, it's "foul language." Not that is matters too much, just that "fowl language" is not so much ^#$%# as it is "quack quack." (As in bird talk). Fowl refers to a bird. Foul refers to putrid. Just thought I'd comment.
In response to Brewer: What does Josh Brewer have in common with a professional wrestler? He never quits. He breaks his promises to retire. Just as Hogan and the rest consistently refuse to go down gracefully, so does Brewer. A word of advice Brewer, (whether you consider this from the peanut gallery or not) if you say you're gonna stop writing in, follow through. It is sad enough that anyone who has gotten out of here would keep writing in. It's even sadder when they are so addicted to being rabble rousers that they don't know when to stop. Yes, Brewer, there is a time and a place for everything, and your time and place has come and gone. Deal with it and move on with your life.
To Rebekah: I didn't know you liked Prof. Smith. But welcome to the bandwagon. Now that people have started to see his UB talks for what they were, (a bit belatedly, alas) it seems many people have begun to appreciate him. I just hope that I, in my small way, had a hand in helping to change peoples' attitudes toward him, at least among LUers. Agree with him or not, everything he said was from the heart, and if you listened, you'll have to admit he made you think.
To Jason: Darn right people don't want to think. Everyone wants to stay with their herding instinct. That's fine to a point, but people also have to know that there is a point where it becomes both proper and necessary to move on. Glad I'm not the only one around here who sees that people need to think for themselves.
Finally, to Kihnt: A spade is a spade, but define a spade. I think you're calling your interpretation of certain scriptures a spade. Be that as it may, if you want my ideas on those scriptures, email me email@example.com and I'd be more than happy to get into it; I'm not going to do so here. But what I will say is, you're right about the women leading. You are also right in your assumption that different people will see it in a different light than you. But stop and think for a brief moment about who the praise-team women are leading; they are leading melody and harmony parts for other women. They are not leading the men in any way shape or form, and they certainly are exhibiting no authority over the men. Did not Paul say that women are to lead and teach other women? I believe that he did, and if that is not so, then it is unscriptural to have bible classes where women teach and lead other women. Yet, all branches of the COC have such classes. Where, then, is the problem with the praise team? The women are teaching other women the parts to new songs, they are leading other women in those parts, and are exercising absolutely no authority over any men. Sounds perfectly scriptural to me.
Until Lipscomb students stop going to Hooters, I am
Interview with a Lemming
by James Thurber
The weary scientist, tramping through the mountains of northern Europe in the winter weather dropped his knapsack and prepared to sit on a rock.
"Careful, brother," said a voice.
"Sorry," murmured the scientist, noting with some surprise that a lemming which he had been about to sit on had addressed him. "It is a source of considerable astonishment to me," said the scientist, sitting down beside the lemming, "that you are capable of speech."
"You human beings are always astonished," said the lemming, "when any other animal can do anything you can. Yet there are many things animals can do that you cannot, such as stridulate, or chirr, to name just one. To stridulate, or chirr, one of the minor achievements of the cricket, your species is dependent on the intestines of sheep and the hair of the horse."
"We are a dependent animal," admitted the scientist.
"You are an amazing animal," said the lemming.
"We have always considered you rather amazing, too," said the scientist. "You are perhaps the most mysterious of creatures."
"If we are going to indulge in adjectives beginning with 'm,' said the lemming sharply, "let me apply a few to your species--murederous, maladjusted, maleficent and muffle-headed."
"You find our behavior as difficult to understand as we do yours?"
"You, as you would say, said it," said the lemming. "You kill, you mangle, you torture, you imprison, you starve each other. You cover the nurturing earth with cement, you cut down elm trees to put up institutions for people driven insane by the cutting down of elm trees, you--"
"You could go on all night like that," said the scientist, "listing our sins and shames."
"I could go on all night and up to four o'clock tomorrow afternoon," said the lemming. "It just happens that I have made a lifelong study of the self-styled higher animal. Except for one thing, I know all there is to know about you, and a singularly dreary, dolorous and distasteful store of information it is, too, to use only adjectives that begin with 'd.'"
"You say you have made a lifelong study of my species--" began the scientist.
"Indeed I have," broke in the lemming. "I know that you are cruel, cunning and carnivorous, sly, sensual and selfish, greedy, gullible adn guileful--"
"Pray don't wear yourself out," said the scientist, quietly. "It may interst you to know that I have made a lifelong study of lemmings, just as you have made a lifelong study of people. Like you I have found but one thing about my subject which I don't understand."
"And what is that?" asked the lemming.
"I don't understand," said the scientist, "why you lemmings all rush down to the sea and drown yourselves."
"How curious," said the lemming. "The one thing I don't understand is why you human beings don't."
LU days gone by:
As the only person at Lipscomb who is only vaguely aware of etiquette, let me inform you Beavis and Butthead male chauvinists who wonder, "If taking our caps off in chapel is good enough for us, why don't girls have to do it too?", that ladies have always been permitted to wear hats indoors, and that even in the stricter Catholic traditions it is considered disrespectful for a woman to NOT wear a covering on her head.
--Jana Stephenson, LU#7 "SEX, POLITICS, & PAT", 30 March 1995
Josh Brewer... since I believe that the Bible is relevant for today's world and SOCIETY and the Bible tells us to "put off" filthy language (ie words that hide behind %$@# in the comic strips), it seems reasonable for anyone to agree that filthy language (which society dictates, of course) should be detestible to any person who follows Christ. The problem, I think, is that you like the power filthy words give you, so you use them, despite Christ hanging on the cross. I cannot judge your heart, but I can and should inspect your fruits. May I quote one of your fruits? Thanks: "Jonathan Bradley (bitch-from-hell)" (LU#14). Jesus said in Luke 6:45, "For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks." What's in your heart? I'm ready for one of those complicated and firey retorts... so?
Until the waves of forever crash into the... ummm.... uhhh....
first: Brewer, you have proven me wrong again. Just when I say that we need you here, you prove my sayings false. The argument that filthy language has something to do with an ancient language we don't use is quite possibly the STUPIDIST, MOST MORONIC, AND ASININE thing that I have ever heard. Filthy language is filthy language no matter what language you are speaking in. Maybe you would like to throw out the passage comdemning incest since that was in a letter written 2000 years ago too.
Second: Toadman has it right. Eastern philosophies and religions tend to focus on seeing yourself in others, meanwhile Brewer's beloved western philosophies can only manage to try and tear mankind as a whole down. They don't have anything intelligent to say, so all they do is try to bring man down.(overcompensating for a shortcoming?) There are some amazingly Christ-like teachings coming from the East, and it is high time we start to apply them to our lives. Lao Tzu said that before you try to do anything to harm another person, look to see your self in him. How then can you harm him?
I've felt the need to post my thoughts on various campus issues for quite some time now. I'm writing in blue, instead of my usual green, to show that I am writing as a student, not as the Underground host. Many of you may agree with me, many of you probably will not. I ask, though, that your opinion of what I have to say not influence your opinion of the Underground. The LU is bigger than my thoughts, and it would be a shame for someone to be turned off to the unique insight and expression available nowhere else on campus but in the LU because of the stance that I, the host, take on certain issues. It was not unusual in past volumes for past hosts to speak out. I have done my best to remain neutral and to stay out of the discussions. I will continue to do this in the future, however, I cannot sit on my thoughts any longer this semester. Also, this is lengthy, but since this will be my only post of the semester, please bear with me. With that said, let me begin.
The following is a timeline that will illustrate the point that I will attempt to make towards the end of my post.
Over the past several months there have been some very controversial decisions made by the Administration. The one that has received the most attention has been the removal of Doug Varnado. Varnado's reputation for being the Christ-like teacher that he was speaks for itself. His ability to relate to a segment of students on campus like no one faculty member could is something that can simply not be replaced. His passion for missions was unmatched by anyone here. However, since making that decision to remove this teacher that was so close to many students, the Administration has been silent.
The first month of the semester passed, and on September 30, seven students wrote a letter to the editor of the Babbler (if you don't remember reading this letter, it is now available on the LU website in the scrolling box), hoping to be taken more seriously than before, asking the Administration to discuss their decision with the students. Silence.
On the same day that the letter appeared in the Babbler, Stephen L. Carter came to Lipscomb, as part of the new Conversations program, to discuss his book, Integrity. In it, he laid out three steps in the process of integrity. First, he said, one must discern, or analyze his decision options. Secondly, one must act on the right decision. And thirdly, he said, one must make it known to others why he made the decision that he made; he must be public about his decision and not private. Because our freshmen are using his book as their text, I can only assume (but we all know what happens when we assume) that Lipscomb endorses what Carter has to say. But the third step in the process of integrity has been skipped. (Not so ironically, the first two steps were mentioned while the third was not in the caption under Carter's picture in October's Lipscomb News.) The decision to remove Varnado remained un-discussed by the Administration. Silence.
The bison was painted, and repainted, and repainted again with the message, "We miss you, Doug, Matt. 6:24" and "We still miss you, Doug." This time the Administration was silent in words, but not in actions, for they tried to cover it up. Still no explanation. Silence.
Since then, numerous appeals for communication have been made, but there still has been no response. Silence.
Let me emphasize that Doug Varnado's situation is not the problem. It, however, exposed the problem. The problem, as I see it, is the lack of sensitivity of the Administration toward the students' concerns. For example, our Vice President knows of the LU but he chooses not to read it. That doesn't upset me because I host the LU and I want him to read my name, it upsets me because he has the opportunity to read what the students think, to be in touch with the students, and he doesn't even care to be a part of it. Our Director of Public relations is another example of this. He has contributed several times to the Underground. However, he has given us ambiguities under the banner of fact. I will refer you to his comments in the discussion of Coach Myers' salary package compared with Coach Sanderson's, and even more blatantly, his comments in LU#8 in the Spring of 1995 when he spoke of the "university's resolve to build a Fine Arts Building," and said, "The administration remains deeply committed to the project." (And yes, Mr. England, I did read the board's mandate. . .It's taken this long? . . .We were able to convince donors to build a parking garage before a Fine Arts Building? I will say, though, that acquiring the mansion was a good first step. Another time, another place.) Further examples have been raised by Hemingway, Zach Sutherland, and others that would take pages to re-write. After observing these examples, I bring you to our our main problem: Our Administration's words and actions, or lack thereof, show us that they do not care about what the students think. This would not be so bad if we were at a state school, but we're at a Christian school. You may be reading this and whole-heartedly disagreeing with it, but what has the Administration, as a body, done to show us that they do care what we think and how we feel about major campus issues?
This is the concern that many students have. They want to hear the Administration honestly discuss their reasons for making the decisions that they have made, not simply in the context of communication from the Administration to student body, but from one group of Christians to another group of Christians. We're expected to model Christian behavior, but we don't see it demonstrated from our leaders in the biggest of issues. This current state of silence among questions, not just insignificant questions, but questions relevant to our spiritual lives and how we relate to other Christians, is no way for a group of Christians to live. And does it make a difference if this group of students is a minority? Lipscomb has programs to reach every minority group on campus, except for the minority that wants explanations. Regardless, this group simply wants to communicate on a two way street. They desire honest, genuine communication.
I am not so ignorant as to think that what I have written here will generate a response from the Administration, nor do I expect it to even generate much change at all. It would be nice on this anniversary of the opening of the Berlin Wall if we would have our own opening of the wall of silence, but I'm not holding my breath. I understand that the Administration cannot take a particular stand on issues because of the risk of showing their hand and alienating certain donors and board members. My purpose, however, is not to get a response from them, my purpose in writing this is to communicate to you, the students, what I am seeing here from my position: The Administration doesn't care about what the students think. As a student, this slightly bothers me. As a Christian, this disturbs me.
From a student who cares for Lipscomb University,
The Lipscomb Underground has always had as it's main goal to be a facility for students to express their opinions in an unedited, uncensored manner. In no other forum on campus can a student safely say exactly what he/she wants to say, especially if it is in disagreement with "the establishment." The Lipscomb Underground is the forum where students come to say what they're thinking, to express their feelings, and to voice their opinions. Ultimately, it is a forum for genuine, honest communication. The Lipscomb Underground will continue to be the forum for student expression. Each LUer cares about Lipscomb University to some degree. Some may disagree with this, but no LUer would take the time to write if he/she didn't care about what goes on here. All of us participate in the LU to bolster communication on campus. It is obvious that there are two sides to be taken on many of these campus issues, and someone on one side may think that someone on the other simply does not care about the issues. Please, I ask you, avoid this line of thinking. We are all trying to make Lipscomb a better place, and the Underground's goal is attempting to facilitate the lines of student communication.
Until the Dick Vitale comes to McQuiddy,
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THE LIPSCOMB UNDERGROUND
LU#15: "Cold Duck Time"
Nov. 9 , 1999
volume five, no.137
the Lipscomb Underground:
". . .a place where the students of Lipscomb University can express their opinions, no matter how stupid."