Open Letter: Zach Schneider ’14

**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.**

To the Board of Trustees at Cedarville University:

I greet you, as fellow brothers and sisters in service of our Lord Jesus Christ. I thank you for your service; I recognize that your respective positions are tenuous for a number of reasons, and that you face pressures from students, alumni, the media, the administration, and each other. It is my prayer that you will not view my message as disrespectful in any way, for I do not mean it to be so.

However, I have grave concerns with your recent decisions and I must not be silent. I have learned through this university, to your credit, that true service of Christ demands that I speak out for the voiceless and refuse to consent to injustice through my silence. It is for this reason that I have committed a great deal of my time and personal resources to publish The Ventriloquist, an independent student newspaper on Cedarville’s campus. And it is for this reason that I write to you today. I will boldly state my concerns, praying that you will treat them as the grave charges of a brother rather than the malicious accusations of an enemy. If any of the factual claims that I relate are false, I entreat you to correct my ignorance and reassure my commitment to this institution. If, however, the charges that I levy are true, then I frankly do not understand how you as trustees can tolerate such injustice while claiming the name and seal of the Lord Jesus Christ on your university, and I beg you to redress the grievances presented.

For I have observed the following:

  • The dismissal of Dr. Michael Pahl through an ad hoc and unjust process, less than a year after Dr. Pahl committed his resources (through the purchase of a local house and relocating his family from Canada) and service to the university. The biased nature of the process that reviewed him, during which a professor on the review panel was replaced with a less-sympathetic colleague due to his decision to support Dr. Pahl; Dr. Pahl brought a witness who was not permitted to speak; and Dr. Pahl was asked to write in defense of his book and then peppered with questions for which he had not opportunity to prepare.
  • The toleration of a pattern of behavior that is potentially unethical but definitively at odds with Christlike conduct by the administration, particularly Dr. John Gredy and Dr. Tom Cornman. Conduct including the following:
    • A meeting in which Bible faculty were described as “cowards” and threatened with termination for supposedly speaking to the media.
    • Multiple other instances of misconduct towards the Bible faculty that I shall not relate in detail due to fear of retaliation against the individuals in question.
    • Multiple instances of false information being given by Dr. Cornman about the philosophy major, including a press release in which the university falsely stated that Drs. Mills and Graves had “chosen not to reply” to the recommendation that the philosophy major be cut, and a statement by Dr. Cornman in an SGA town hall meeting that Introduction to Philosophy classes maintain an average of 17 students, when the true number is 31.  Additionally, no offered apology or correction to the false information once Dr. Cornman was made aware of the errors.
    • The issuance of a press release containing misleading information about the removal of Dr. Carl Ruby as the Vice President of Student Life.  The continued insistence by the administration that Dr. Ruby’s removal was a “mutual understanding,” when it was not mutual in any meaningful sense of the word.
  • On the same note, the removal of Dr. Carl Ruby as Vice President of Student Life.  The unjust treatment of a man who had responsibly and passionately served the university for nearly thirty years.  The denial to students of the opportunity to interact with a man directly responsible with restoring the faith and even life of countless individuals.  And the refusal of the administration to even be honest and transparent about the fact that Dr. Ruby was fired.
  • Finally, the decision to conclude the philosophy major at Cedarville University, along with the termination of at least one philosophy faculty; a decision that threatens the academic credibility of the institution and seems unjustifiable under any grounds other than a pure lust for profit.  A decision made not because the major was unprofitable (for indeed, Drs. Mills and Graves sell the second-most credit-hours of any department besides psychology), but rather out of a desire to increase profit by reallocating resources to hire a faculty in another department that can sell even more credits, a desire based in logic of greed that has no place at an academic institution, much less a Christlike institution, and a desire that even ignores simple economic principles such as diminishing returns.

I beseech you, as individuals entrusted with care of our institution and as brothers and sisters in Christ, to either correct the factual accuracy of the charges I present or to redress the grievances they represent.  To do neither seems unconscionable as Christians and as caretakers of a university that bears the name and seal of Christ.  Absent correction or redress, and pending an analysis of feasibility and affordability, I will strongly consider transferring to another institution at the conclusion of this semester.  I have striven to represent the university well, maintaining a 3.85 GPA as a computer science major and philosophy minor, and acting as an ambassador as a nationally-ranked member of the debate team.  However, if my concerns are not either corrected or redressed, I must come to terms with the following:

  • I cannot, in good conscience, continue to contribute to the university via my tuition dollars and thus indirectly grant my consent for the courses of action described above.
  • Neither can I, in good conscience, represent a university that is guilty of the above charges, via debate or my academic success.
  • I do not wish to jeopardize my reputation by association (via a diploma) with a university that commits the above list of grievances, that discredits its own diploma via conclusion of philosophy, and that does not represent Christ in a way that I can support.
  • I sincerely fear for the relative value of a Cedarville degree in the future, should the university continue on this course of action.

To conclude my message, I repeat my earlier prayer that this communication not be perceived as disrespectful, but rather as an honest expression of the grave concerns I hold as a student at Cedarville.  I beg you, as trustees, to address my concerns listed above, either to correct or to redress.  And finally, I assure you that you as a body and as individuals are in my prayers, that the hand of God may be upon you as you lead our university into the future.

Sincerely,

Zach Schneider

Class of 2014

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4 responses to “Open Letter: Zach Schneider ’14

  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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