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.
As an alum, I am sad to hear about this and about the drift to the far right which seems to be gripping the school.
Also, I can relate to the students who write for the paper. When Paul Dixon became president of the college during my time there, he appointed the public relations department to oversee the paper’s content. In essence, this shut down the school paper because the newspaper staff resigned in protest.
It can now be revealed that I was co-editor of an underground paper published stealthily to replace the absent newspaper. We printed the paper secretly and distributed it literally in the middle of the night. After awhile, the papers started disappearing from where we left them (mostly in the student mail room) and we had to get creative in ways to spread them around. What goes around comes around I suppose.
When I first went to the “Ville” in 1975, men were not allowed to grow beards or mustaches and long hair for men was forbidden, women could not wear pants to class, and movies and dancing were prohibited. I got into some hot water for playing Stairway to Heaven at the new student talent night. Music preferences were monitored. Generally, I pushed the rules as far as I could. As a relatively new Christian, I didn’t get the legalism. In years following graduation, Christian rock and pop artists were featured in chapel and other kinds of moderation followed. Before coming to Grove City in 1994, I had an informal interview at Cedarville.
However, I received a pretty good education and I know there are fine people still teaching there. I am disappointed to think that the school could be returning to a stifling rigidity and legalism that marked the early days.