“One doesn’t have to operate with great malice to do great harm. The absence of empathy and understanding are sufficient.”
Charles M. Blow
Cedarville University’s Core Values
CEDARVILLE UNIVERSITY COVENANT
We are a community of believers accountable to one another, called to reflect the character of Jesus Christ and to be obedient to His Word. We will be faithful in our support for the local church and in our practice of spiritual disciplines. We will practice biblical principles of encouragement, exhortation, and reconciliation. We commit ourselves to integrity, kindness, purity, and self-control and to continual growth in scholarship, leadership, and service.
Therefore, as members of the Cedarville community, we regularly affirm our commitment to the Cedarville Covenant with this pledge: We will love God and others, live with integrity, and pursue excellence in all we do.”
-Cedarville University Student Handbook, page 5.
Below is a video of Dr. Thomas White, President of Cedarville University, addressing students at the first chapel service of the new school year (Monday, August 17, 2020). White advises the students that “We as a university will be a university that cares well for victims. We have to, we must, and we will.”
Yesterday I heard from a trusted friend who keeps me apprised of the latest happenings at Cedarville University. My friend told me that all chairs and deans received an email last week (one week after White informed the students that Cedarville University will be a university that cares well for victims) saying that the Cedarville University Counseling Center has never done anything wrong and that none of the students’ stories are true. The chairs and deans were instructed to advise all the faculty in their department meetings Friday morning (8/28) of this news.
Let that sink in.
Apparently, administration officials at Cedarville are labeling anyone who has spoken of the poor counseling obtained through the Cedarville University Counseling Center as liars.
I would ask the readers to review Julie Roys posts on counseling received at Cedarville University and judge for yourself whether their stories are credible, or if you think they are liars.
One may rightly question if top officials from Cedarville University are exempt from the Cedarville Covenant that students must sign; specifically, the line that states “live with integrity.”
I have had several students, both current and past, contact me wanting to share their counseling experiences – these experiences show that Cedarville University’s claims that Cedarville University Counseling Center has never done anything wrong are egregious.
Below is an account from a former student that appears to contradict the “company line” coming from CU administration.
“I went to Cedarville fall semester 2013, my first semester was Dr. White’s first semester. The school I experienced was very different than the one I had visited. I was already struggling with my mental health and I thought Cedarville would be a place I could go closer to God and receive some Christian support, encouragement, and guidance. I called and scheduled an appointment with counseling services during the summer and had my first appointment the first week of classes. At the time I wasn’t doing well with my eating disorder and on my first Sunday I almost blacked out when we got home from church. The counselor I saw was great and really helped me get back on track with eating regularly and eating cooked foods again as I had been on a low fat, fully raw, vegan diet and a maximum of 100 calories a day. I was also struggling with depression and self-harm.
I got pretty close with our debate coach early on in the year and in October he suddenly stopped responding to texts. Our captains and a few of the open debaters knew what was going on, but they weren’t allowed to tell the rest of the team. The administration decided that 2 days before finals started would be the perfect time for our captains to tell us that our coach was on leave and if we spoke with him or told anyone what was going on he would stop getting paid.
2 days later I found out that my RD was being fired because she sometimes preached at the college student service her church held.
Another 2 days later I found out my therapist was leaving.
I cried every day for two weeks. It felt like everyone I was close to was being ripped away from me for no good reason. I began spiraling. I was put on a waitlist for counseling services and never saw anyone the rest of the year. I went the whole spring semester without a counselor.
In March after our last debate tournament of the year, I had a detailed plan for how I was going to commit suicide. I told one of my debate captains I was close with and my RA. During the debate tournament, Mindy May called and spoke with me. She determined I was fine and didn’t need to go to the hospital. Somehow one of my debate captains convinced her to talk to me again when we got back to campus from the tournament. My captains and I grabbed dinner at Subway when we got back and while we were eating one of them got a phone call for us to go back to my dorm. She came in and told me what was going on and we all went back to Faith. John Wood and Mindy May were there waiting for us. We met in the common room of Faith where there were two other students doing homework, one of whom lived next door to me. One of my captains was allowed in on the meeting to support me. We all talked about my mental health for a bit and during the chat, John Wood found a random box of crayons. This started him down a bunny trail about how people west of the Mississippi pronounce crayons one way and people East of the Mississippi pronounce it a different way. At the end of the conversation, he said we should take a vote around the crayons to determine if I needed to go to the hospital for an evaluation. John Wood is not a mental health professional and Mindy May was not licensed in Ohio at the time. Neither of them could ethically or legally make that decision. Had I been in a better mental state and was not still a student there, I would have filed a report against Mindy May and she would have permanently lost her license. This is a major breach of ethics that the APA would not have taken lightly. My debate captains were allowed to take me to Kettering which also should not have been the case. When you make the decision that someone needs a crisis evaluation, you have them taken to the hospital via ambulance or police.
I ended up spending a week in the hospital and was sexually assaulted by another patient while I was there. I was still on the waiting list for counseling services, so an appointment was made for me in Xenia for counseling once I got out of the hospital. The appointment was with a male and I didn’t have a car, so getting to appointments was difficult and ultimately ended up not working out. I was struggling with severe PTSD, having nightmares and flashbacks every day and did not have a professional to help me. I felt incredibly judged for being on medication and ended up stopping my antidepressant. A day or two after I got back to campus, I had to see Dean Stowers and sign the document that I later posted to the group that I am sure you have seen now. (See below) I cannot put into words how hurt I was by this. It felt like I was being labeled a criminal by the administration. I was told if I refused to sign it I would not be allowed to live on campus. I signed it under coercion. I immediately told my debate captains and we met at one of their houses off-campus to discuss it. Thankfully there are a lot of loopholes we quickly discovered that allowed me to still utilize my support system, but that didn’t fix the message forcing me to sign the NDA sent me. I was no longer a student, one of God’s chosen in need of support and guidance, but a danger that others needed to be protected from. Even though I utilized my support system I felt guilty doing so, like I was wrong for doing so and too much for anyone to handle. It sent the message that mental health is taboo and different than other health concerns, that people struggling shouldn’t burden their friends by asking for help. Six years later I still struggle with feeling this way and I hadn’t before my experience at Cedarville. I have incredible anxiety when even contemplating reaching out to someone for support, even when that person is my wife and I often feel like I am too much for others to handle and a burden on them. With therapy, it’s getting better now, but it is still incredibly difficult.
Below are several brief posts by Cedarville students, past and present.
I believe I have presented enough evidence to show that the claim made by CU administration that “Cedarville University Counseling Center has never done anything wrong and that none of the students’ stories are true,” is itself untrue. Living with integrity? Not so much.
I will withhold judgment on whether Dr. White’s claim of “We as a university will be a university that cares well for victims. We have to, we must, and we will.” was sincere or merely window dressing. So far, it’s off to an inauspicious beginning.