A former BJU Public Safety Officer speaks
I write this with some trepidation, but that hearkens back to my days in a loving, but strict IFB home. I have never been physically abused, and both of my parents were kind, Godly people with a great love for others, even “sinners.” I wasn’t supposed to question, but I was very inquisitive. Unfortunately, I have been more obedient than curious until a few years ago.
Looking back, I know there were children around me who were abused, including one of my friends, the daughter of my pastor. But no one else ever seemed to notice the bruises, and there was always a bike accident, or a tumble down the stairs to account for them.
Many years later, I found myself employed by the Department of Public Safety at Bob Jones University. I worked there for more than a decade, and left only because my work environment grew toxic. But once I was out of that atmosphere, I began to see my alma mater through new, and questioning eyes. Some of the things I learned broke my heart, and that is why I write this now.
The GRACE report on BJU and its ramifications would seem to deeply involve Public Safety, but oddly, it does not. People were often banned from campus without most of the staff of Public Safety actually knowing the reason. There would be a call from one of the dean’s offices in the Administration building requesting a staff member with the department to escort a student while they gathered their belongings and waited for a ride. If the banned person was staff or a town student, they were often escorted to their vehicle, and followed until they pulled off campus. No questions about circumstances allowed. Ask questions-lose your job. In all of those years, I saw the local police openly involved in this process only when the crime was a robbery, or some type of fraud.
My position called for me to add the names and pictures to the list of expelled individuals. As I said, I rarely knew the reason. Knowing what I do now, I realize that some of those individuals were victims, and others were their abusers. Every thing was on a need to know basis. The director of Public Safety received only the most basic of details, and the rest of us were clueless. It was, to my knowledge, all handled by University administration.
I do not personally know of the relationship between the local police, and the administration in matters of abuse. That alone seems very wrong and indicative of a deep problem. I do know of some incidents of sexual harassment that were brushed aside in favor of a dynamic individual at the school. I was there to see it, and told it was no big deal (I know better now). But, even though I was the only full-time staff member in the department, I was never involved with any instance of abuse during my time at Public Safety.
May God continue to use GRACE. I pray for those victims who have been so damaged by a secretive and patriarchal system that healing will come only when they reach Heaven.