On the heels of more American college student groups feeling empowered to dictate the terms of attendance at their schools to school administrators and faculty, following the protests and demands staged by some University of Missouri-Columbia students in mid-November, one college president is fighting back with Christian principles and reminders of life's major lessons for adults.
Dr. Everett Piper, president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University in Bartlesville, Okla., wrote a letter that was posted onto the college's website titled "This is Not a Day Care. It's a University!" It has many parents cheering, and more groups talking about the controversial topic of all stakeholders involved with college education. He is known to advocate tirelessly for cultural change from a Christian worldview.
Piper appears to be truly embodying the university's vision: "Unapologetic in our commitment to the truth of Christ and the truth of Scripture, OKWU models a way of thought, a way of life, and a way of faith."
His letter began by describing the situation that prompted him to write about this subject. "This past week, I actually had a student come forward after a university chapel service and complain because he felt 'victimized' by a sermon on the topic of 1 Corinthians 13. It appears that this young scholar felt offended because a homily on love made him feel bad for not showing love! In his mind, the speaker was wrong for making him, and his peers, feel uncomfortable."
Piper then promised readers he was not making up the situation. "Our culture has actually taught our kids to be this self-absorbed and narcissistic! Any time their feelings are hurt, they are the victims! Anyone who dares challenge them and, thus, makes them 'feel bad' about themselves, is a 'hater,' a 'bigot,' an 'oppressor,' and a 'victimizer.'"
The president of the evangelical Christian campus stated he had a message for this young man and all others who care to listen. "That feeling of discomfort you have after listening to a sermon is called a conscience! An altar call is supposed to make you feel bad! It is supposed to make you feel guilty! The goal of many a good sermon is to get you to confess your sins - not coddle you in your selfishness. The primary objective of the Church and the Christian faith is your confession, not your self-actualization!"
Piper's further advice:
"If you want the chaplain to tell you're a victim rather than tell you that you need virtue, this may not be the university you're looking for. If you want to complain about a sermon that makes you feel less than loving for not showing love, this might be the wrong place."
"If you're more interested in playing the 'hater' card than you are in confessing your own hate; if you want to arrogantly lecture, rather than humbly learn; if you don't want to feel guilt in your soul when you are guilty of sin; if you want to be enabled rather than confronted, there are many universities across the land (in Missouri and elsewhere) that will give you exactly what you want, but Oklahoma Wesleyan isn't one of them."
He conveyed the mission at OKWU was to teach students to be selfless rather than self-centered. "We are more interested in you practicing personal forgiveness than political revenge. We want you to model interpersonal reconciliation rather than foment personal conflict. We believe the content of your character is more important than the color of your skin. We don't believe that you have been victimized every time you feel guilty and we don't issue 'trigger warnings' before altar calls."
He also stated Oklahoma Wesleyan is not a "safe place," but rather, a place to learn: "To learn that life isn't about you, but about others; that the bad feeling you have while listening to a sermon is called guilt; that the way to address it is to repent of everything that's wrong with you rather than blame others for everything that's wrong with them. This is a place where you will quickly learn that you need to grow up!"
Piper concluded: "This is not a daycare. This is a university!"
Piper is the fifth president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, established in 1909.