Dearest Shorter Students:
We love you! YOU are unequivocally the primary motivation for many of us to become involved in Save Our Shorter. As part of the long and rich legacy of Shorter College/University, we take great pride in the world-class education that our degrees from Shorter represent. While at Shorter, we forged life-long friendships, were academically challenged with a diversity of perspectives, and were spiritually nurtured. Shorter faculty and administration showed us love, not just through words, but through the way they lived their lives. Shorter faculty also taught us integrity, again through their actions. We were so blessed. We have taken pride in knowing that the generations that followed shared this experience.
Shorter has always been small enough that none of us was just a number. Each was a complex multidimensional representation of God’s beautiful creation. The faculty loved each of us as God made us. They guided us through the often tough transition into adulthood. Many of us look back and now understand the wisdom of the approach of guiding rather than telling. Though many of us wanted the easy path of someone to give us all of the answers, we were challenged to discover the answers for ourselves.
The events of this past year have caused many of us great sorrow. We have seen an institution that is dear to us begin to collapse. The very things that we valued most about our Shorter are the very things that the new administration is taking away.
- The new Personal Lifestyle Statement, in addition to calling to question the true Christianity of faculty, has caused many “Bible believing Christians” who do not fully agree to either take their talents to another university, compromise their integrity and sign it anyway, or be without a job – a means to provide themselves and their families with food, clothing, and shelter. You have lost.
- The new Shorter University Statement of Faith again insults many devout Christian faculty members who do not agree with every word in the statement. As an institute of higher learning, where faculty have dedicated their lives to ideas and thinking, faculty is now required to subjugate their thinking and belief system and toe the “company line.” Any restriction on intellectual inquiry on the faculty transfers to you. You have lost.
- The Biblical Principles on the Integration of Faith and Learning, though superficially good sounding, again restricts academic freedom in the classroom. For over a century, Shorter has been “a scholarly community of excellence,” and faculty have committed “themselves to cultivating a campus environment that encourages spiritual, moral, and intellectual growth in concert with a biblical worldview.” The requirement to sign this totally unnecessary document does nothing more than give the administration the ability to micromanage each professor’s classroom. It takes away their academic freedom. This will eventually lead to censure of Shorter University and loss of accreditation. You will lose.
You are in the middle of all of this every day. You did not come to Shorter to see your university collapse beneath you. You are placed in a most precarious situation. Your lives and academic future are most unstable. You are losing phenomenal faculty and are being forced to explore other academic options. Instead of focusing on your academic studies, you are forced to put your energy into these other areas. We can only imagine being in the precarious situation in which you find yourselves. Our hearts go out to you. We love you!
Things you should know about Shorter University and the Georgia Baptist Convention:
- Shorter is not owned by the Georgia Baptist Convention. It is only controlled by the GBC through the Board of Trustees.
- The GBC only contributes 4.2% of the Shorter budget. The $7.2 million is money that the GBC withheld from Shorter during the court battle.
- The Board of Trustees and President Schrader were not wrong to be concerned about accreditation prior to the court case. The following is directly from the dissenting opinion in the court case. “The majority opinion [the judges that voted AGAINST Shorter] holds that Shorter College’s Board of Trustees complied with its governing documents, the Georgia Nonprofit Corporation Code,1 and its fiduciary duties in dissolving the College and transferring its assets to the Shorter College Foundation.” The court case was lost because of the manner in which the separation was attempted.
- There is a marked lack of females in the Department of Religion.
- Separating Shorter from the Georgia Baptist Convention will be difficult, but not impossible.
- Not all members of Georgia Baptist Convention affiliated churches are Fundamentalists.
- Your opinions DO matter. YOU are the customer. Either you or your parents pay tuition to the University. Never forget that point.
- If Shorter loses its accreditation with SACS, you will have difficulty being accepted into a graduate school. If you plan to teach, you will have difficulty being hired in the state of Georgia.