BJU and GRACE Agree to Complete Investigation, BJU Promises “Commitment to a Thorough, Transparent and Objective Review”

Bob Jones University announced today that GRACE will continue and complete its investigation into the school’s history and policies regarding sexual abuse.

Nearly three weeks after abruptly terminating its contract with GRACE, BJU now says the two organizations are “united in our commitment to a thorough, transparent and objective review.”

The announcement comes as a seeming victory for all sides of this controversy, as supporters and detractors of the University alike decried BJU’s termination of GRACE and called, nearly unanimously, for their reinstatement.

GRACE has not, as of yet, commented on the announcement.

BJU published a Q&A about the recent events here, which among other things plainly answers the accusations of its critics:

Of note here are a number of subtle attempts by BJU to spin this announcement, and re-define the last month of news as nothing controversial:

-BJU acknowledges on its Timeline that the GRACE contract was terminated, but still tries to get away with using the word “suspended” several times in the Q&A.

-BJU attempts to frame the GRACE investigation as a “review”–as primarily an administrative action meant to update BJU’s policies and ensure the school meets legal requirements. However, the main focus of the GRACE review has been on victims who have spoken out about the school’s neglect and systemic abuse.

-BJU seems confused about whether or not any victims do, indeed, exist. Under the Q&A, the question is posed:

“Did GRACE discover any instances of abuse that were not properly reported to authorities?”

To which the answer is given:

To date, BJU has received no report that GRACE has discovered any BJU or BJA abuse reporting obligations.

Then, in another section of the Q&A:

It is for the sake of these individuals that BJU went to great lengths to resolve our differences with GRACE. We are deeply grieved by the pain and disappointment these individuals have experienced.

BJU appears stuck between refusing to admit that any real grievances exist against it (see the “underserved” verbiage) and its obligation to admit that the GRACE investigation is happening for a reason.

Despite the PR spin from the University, this announcement is good news for all sides. Victims and critics of the school will finally see their stories aired in public, and by a third party that BJU won’t be able to influence. Supporters and defenders of the school can at least know that BJU is no longer attempting to hide or stamp out GRACE’s findings. All that’s left now, as before, is to wait.

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14 thoughts on “BJU and GRACE Agree to Complete Investigation, BJU Promises “Commitment to a Thorough, Transparent and Objective Review”

  1. baldjonesgrad

    ” Victims and critics of the school will finally see their stories aired in public, and by a third party that BJU won’t be able to influence. ”

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but you may be jumping to conclusions. Let’s see whether or not the stories will be aired publicly. The final report will probably become BJU’s property, since they are writing the checks. What BJU does with it after they receive the finished product is unknown as yet.

    I will bet that BJU doesn’t release it.

  2. A James

    I’m not sure how detailed a final public report would/will be, but a final public report is part of a GRACE investigation. Here is an example of a GRACE final report.

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  5. A James

    BJU News said, “The announcement comes as a seeming victory for all sides of this controversy, as supporters and detractors of the University alike decried BJU’s termination of GRACE and called, nearly unanimously, for their reinstatement.”

    I have been wondering if indeed it has been some sort of victory for social media efforts–if efforts (posting or commenting) are to any avail. Along with this, I have been trying to be more informed about SACS requirements/ramifications. Maybe BJU News has already referenced this article from fall 2013. I found it an interesting connection between my SACS thoughts and my social media musings.

    http://www.thefamuanonline.com/news/famu-student-government-debriefs-after-accreditation-team-visits-campus-1.2839354

    How very curious the student body/student senate at Florida A & M are concerned about probation…and also concerned about how social media reflects on their school which, seems to (according to them) affects SACS views about the school.

    From the article above:
    “Hudson wants students to take into consideration that SACS reviews everything that is in connection with the university, including social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter, Hudson said.

    ‘Everything counts,’ Hudson said. ‘Nothing is off limits. What we do has a greater impact.’

    Hudson said student leaders had the opportunity to meet with SACS as well and from what he was informed of, they represented the university well.

    Hudson said he wants students and faculty to continue to work hard and to speak positively about the university as a whole and not focus on the negative, and he was grateful for how responsive the student body has been by participating in activities to ensure that the university is in compliance with the rules and regulations set by SACS.”

    What a catch-22 BJU is in. Trying to disregard the social media but, perhaps realizing the need for a positive public image for SACS, need to regard the social media. Trying to give more social media freedom to students/faculty (for a positive not from SACS), yet knowing the negativity that will likely come from allowing that freedom…then trying to quell that negativity…

    Are we in a catch-22 as well? Should we cease our fingers of destruction about BJU in order to help them with SACS? I have no answers. I just find this a very intriguing conundrum.
    Here we have students at a secular university encouraging its own to be very old-time BJU’ish
    and be “nice” on the social media for the sake of SACS–but also knowing they need to hold the school accountable some way…

    Also curious is how much influence the students have on governance:
    “Furthermore, Patrick McKeithen, a candidate for chief justice, went before the senate to be confirmed for the position after being denied last week. One of the major issues that prevented McKeithen from gaining confirmation last week was the question on the transparency between the student body and Student Government Association. However, after regrouping and meeting with senators prior to this week’s meeting, McKeithen was able to gain confirmation by an 11 to 4 vote from the senate.”

    Where will this all lead since SACS is indeed does seem “almost like re-founding the school”
    http://bjunews.com/2013/11/12/stephen-jones-reveals-depth-of-bjus-financial-woes-to-faculty-almost-like-re-founding-the-school/

    1. A James

      That should have been “positive nod from SACS”.

      Also, my conclusion is that I think, that after reading that article, I can be more confident in holding an opinion that indeed the intense media pressure on the GRACE termination did affect BJU’s decision to go with GRACE according to the original contract. They have not tried to convince us otherwise by sharing what their concerns with GRACE were/how GRACE was going beyond their objectives. Whether they should always cave to social media opinion just for the sake of getting along, that’s another discussion altogether.

      Also, I did not mean to imply that I think we should not have typed fast and furiously about GRACE in order to help with SACS efforts. At this point, they are not even an official applicant. But even beyond that, truth is more important than a presentation image.

  6. baldjonesgrad

    Very interesting information about Florida A&M and SACS. I believe that the intensity of internet attention on BJU and GRACE brought the Joneses back to revitalize the GRACE contract. Social media helps keep institutions accountable. SACS knows this, and BJU may one day learn that they can’t operate in darkness any more. It is a new day of accountability. The unknowns have Twitter accounts.

  7. A James

    Some posts ago, Anson mentioned a bad fashion statement. I am putting this comment/link back there and here for the record:
    And there really ought to be a policy against this, Anson, should you have opportunity to address this in faculty meeting 🙂
    http://www.bju.edu/galleries/bju-shots-20140228/large/15_20140220stu_walks_jb005.jpg?refresh=1393862833
    In case the above link ceases to work in the future, let it be known that this was a campus shot of a male student in an orangey yellow sweater with bright green pants.

  8. A James

    I just had the stomach to actually listen to Franklin’s announcement about the reinstatement of GRACE. Come on, kids, you gave a standing ovation last fall when Stephen gave you more casual dress code privileges. There should have been all that and more for this announcement.

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  10. bigRedOne

    I find it interesting that so many links have been removed. Probably due to BJU’s persistent intent on white-washing their image. That’s a shame

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  12. R.W.Whisman

    I remember bj3 telling us, in preacher boys class, that if someone wrongs you and comes to you asking forgiveness; forgive them, but NEVER trust them again. I wonder if that applies to bju as well?

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