Open Letter: Dr. David Olsen ’84

**NOTE: Open Letters hosted on Let There Be Light reflect the express views/concerns of the author(s), and not necessarily those of our entire organization.**

Open letter to the Provost and Trustees of Cedarville University:

I am writing to you as a concerned 1984 alum of Cedarville University.  I know many people have contacted you about the “resignation” of Carl Ruby and the discontinuance of the Philosophy Major/Program.  Both of these concern me greatly—as well as the larger goings-on at the place I still remember fondly and visit regularly.  And, quite frankly, hope the best for!

So with that as backdrop—I’d like to explain that many of Carl’s opponents (and by extension Philosophy’s) have based their antagonism on trumped up, unfounded charges.  One example will suffice:  That of [name redacted; henceforth referred to as “A”]. In 1983 I was asked by an English faculty member whether there was something I needed to report about A, because A took a keen interest in my room-mate and thus in me.   At that time I was not clear on what was being asked, so I laughed nervously and said “no.”   The next year I was a lifeguard at the Xenia YMCA and A would bring male students to swim.  He would watch them change in the locker room, and wrestle with them in the pool.  At this point I realized what the English professor was asking.

Since that time, I have heard numerous reports that A harassed male students under the cover of being paternal and helpful.  In one exchange A went so far as to harass a student who came to him for counsel asking this student for the penis size of those involved, amongst other things.  I know this directly from alumni.

I bring this up not to gossip, but because it is directly related to Ruby and Philosophy.  When A was “fired,” rumor was it was because Carl went after him because he was too conservative and fundamentalist.  In fact, for weeks, the public web-site of the “Coalition of the Concerned” had the following:

For example, A has been at Cedarville for many years and is beloved by so many his students. However, as the latest attempt to suppress any faculty voices of dissent, Vice President Carl Ruby acted on behalf of a former student to trump up baseless accusations against A. A was forced to hire an attorney to defend himself against these accusations and only when presented with legal threats were the accusations against him dropped. Due to the severe stress this process placed on A, he has now resigned out of protest and continues to grieve daily over the aggressive attempt to tarnish his otherwise completely spotless reputation.

In numerous emails to A I demanded that he have that paragraph removed, as he knew it was NOT true.  In fact, he had harassed a male student who had come to him for counsel.  After much cajoling on my part, the above statement was finally taken down, but not without poisoning many people towards Carl.

I say this to let you know that some of Carl’s harshest critics are those who support people like A. They are also cheering that “the guy [Carl] who loved the gays” is gone. They will also be happy to be rid of Philosophy, as Philosophy teaches things like how to live an ethical life and why lying is wrong.

That breaks my heart in so many ways, and is so wrong in so many other ways I can’t even lay them all out.  But here are a few:

  1. Carl’s love has saved lives.  Many, many lives. The “outcasts and the sinners” and others who have been wounded, are hurting, or have been marginalized at a place that they should be embraced.  If anyone was Christ-like, Carl was.  Perhaps those “lives” are not deemed as fit as the lives of those cheering his removal.  Perhaps you should start an investigation of those who have been hurt by people like A.  And [different name redacted; henceforth referred to as “B”] for that matter, who also harassed male students for YEARS, going so far as to try and have sex with a suicidal male student, who had been kicked out for being gay, as reported by an alum.  You might glean information about B from university lawyer John Hart, as B’s employment extended to the early 80s, and John worked with him on B’s production of “The Rainmaker.” I am not inferring anything from this—except that John knows B, as many of you did.  As I did.
  2. Philosophy also has saved many lives.  Students who came to Cedarville with complicated lives were taught to see through and around their complicated pasts, think critically about themselves and their faith, and figure out what they believed—all within the context of Christianity.  I know that both Carl and Philosophy saved many students from committing suicide—one that was physical, emotional or spiritual.

So on the one hand you have Carl and Philosophy, on the other you have people who cheer on A as a fundamentalist hero, allowed B to teach, harass and have sex with students for years, and think that things like ABWE missionary and regular Cedarville chapel speaker Donn Ketcham’s abuse of children was over-blown.  Not only was it thought to be over-blown, but there was a massive cover-up, involving MANY people, including very possibly one of the trustees.

How strange that Ketcham is still all over the Cedarville web-site. Do a quick internet search of “Donn Ketcham and Cedarville” and you will find that Ketcham’s sermons are still being sold.  Why would Cedarville continue to peddle the sermons of a known pedophile for $5?  And continue to honor him as the 1984 Honorary Doctor of Humanities, the year I graduated?

[UPDATE: Cedarville University has finally removed Donn Ketcham’s chapel messages from the University’s online Media Store.] 

Similar to ABWE, Cedarville seems very good at “covering-up” what it doesn’t want to deal with, and getting rid of good people and eliminating programs that actually call people to account and ask people to love, think critically and become more Christ-like. This is quite frankly, shameful.

I fully recognize the growing pains of a school that was founded on a fundamentalism rooted in legalism, and discipline and punishment, as it tries to become something somewhat different.  I went to school during those years, 1980-84.  I would ask you—for sake of those in the margins, those who have been abused, those who voices have been muffled, that you reinstate Carl and allow Philosophy to remain a program that provides the background and intellectual heft for all of the Liberal Arts/Humanities, and the university as a whole.  Without critical thought, Ketcham gets away with abusing children, ABWE would have gotten away with a cover-up and A and B get away with harassing students.    If you cannot do this—I would ask you to resign as a trustee.

Thank you for hearing my concerns. I’ll be praying mightily that truth and wisdom will prevail instead of lies and fear.  And that Cedarville University will emerge a stronger, better and more Christ-like place.

Sincerely,

Dr. David Olsen

[NOTE: Names have been redacted by Let There Be Light from the original version of Dr. Olsen’s letter.] 

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4 responses to “Open Letter: Dr. David Olsen ’84

  1. Pingback: That’s So Cedarville? | Let There Be Light·

  2. Pingback: That’s So Cedarville? | Soli Deo Gloria·

  3. Pingback: My Unforgettable Cedarville Experience (pt 2) | Soli Deo Gloria·

  4. Pingback: That’s So Cedarville? | Let There Be Light·

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