BJU to Implement New “Character Probation” Program for “Struggling” Upperclassmen


Clarification: our first version of this post stated that this letter was sent to any upperclassman who was not a “spiritual leader.” In fact, this letter was sent to a smaller group, those who had not been “recommended” for such a leadership position. Although smaller, we still believe the impact of this letter is significant enough to print here.

Update: Please see BJU’s response to this post here.

BJU has transitioned to a new “Character Probation” program for upperclassmen who have not been selected recommended for either of the new dorm leadership positions (“Assistant Group Leader” or “Group Leader”, which have replaced the “Assistant Prayer Captain” and “Prayer Captain” positions). A letter has been sent to any upperclassmen who will be on “Character Probation” next semester, a copy of which has been obtained by BJU News and appears below.


“Character Probation,” while supposedly “not primarily intended to be a disciplinary action,” is clearly a way for BJU admins to keep tabs on students who aren’t fitting the mold.

If you’re a BJU student who’s been targeted by this new program, feel free to leave a note on your experiences in the comments here. And you can always email us anonymously.



60 thoughts on “BJU to Implement New “Character Probation” Program for “Struggling” Upperclassmen

  1. Tina's Marine


    What if you just don’t want to be in leadership or be made responsible for other men in your dorm?

    What if you feel your schoolwork and job and other responsibilities don’t allow you to take on any new responsibilities?

    “Character Probation” sounds like a slap in the face telling someone they don’t have enough character because if you had enough character we would have asked you to be in a leadership position.

    “There is some question about your spiritual growth.” – What makes BJU, anybody for that matter, a good judge of how God is working in someone’s life to bring him/her closer in their walk with God? Reading your Bible, prayer, and being involved in ministry does not mean you’re growing spiritual or even have a good relationship with God. This can and is faked by many people. Image is everything to some people. If we knew the reality of some religious leaders, we might be very surprised by how far apart their “spiritual image” is from their “spiritual walk,” and then, maybe we wouldn’t.

  2. kiml1994

    They were doing character probation before this. Just using it differently. And while it isn’t intended for disciplinary action, that’s what they use it for. That’s what they did with me, an abuse survivor who was struggling due to verbal and emotional abuse from my parents. They want you to fit in this mold so that they only graduate people who look a certain way.

    1. Grace Walk

      This is absolutely horrific. They are not changing anything and, for the protection of these students, alumni should be more systematic and intentional in countering enrollment and closing down the school.

    1. Gray Graduate

      What makes you think it’s fake, Jack? Irony – you’re quoting the Borg. Sounds like that’s what Daulton has in mind, BJU style.

      1. Michael Kreger


        I strongly suspect that this isn’t Matzko (AKA Anson Mills, not Anson Millz). It’s somebody SPOOFING Matzko.

  3. Clara English

    Wait, let me get this straight.

    Anyone who doesn’t make APC/PC status is automatically on character probation? Is there an official document on that as well? Not that I don’t believe you, I just want to make sure. The rest of this is egregious enough, I understand. I’m just appalled at the logical conclusions one can make from that.

    Because if someone not making APC/PC status means they go straight onto character probation, then that has to mean there are plenty of positions to go around or there’s exactly the number of people needed to fill those positions. In my day, there was one APC or PC per room, which meant anywhere from a 2:1 to 4:1 ratio of plebians to ruling class.

    By logical extension, if every upperclassman (except for the unworthy) gets an APC/PC slot that means there is a 2:1 to 4:1 ratio of freshmen/sophomores to THE ENTIRE REST OF THE SCHOOL, then that seems to indicate an *abysmal* attrition rate. Put more simply, that would mean at best there are 100 freshmen/sophomores for every 50 juniors/seniors. Could be as bad as 100 freshmen/sophomores for every 25 juniors/seniors.

    Is an attrition rate like that normal in most colleges? I googled freshmen retention rates, and at regional colleges the rate is anywhere from 50-80%, while at national universities (just looking at the first few pages of stats) it’s at 90% or higher.

    But moving on to the document at hand, if this is not meant to be a disciplinary action but rather an opportunity for growth, then why do they regret having to do it? Why does “some question” about a person’s character equate a lack of desire to be Christlike? (What does “some question” even mean? Could it just mean that nobody in leadership has enough of a relationship with you to know what kind of person you are?) Why are evidences of a desire to be Christlike the trifecta of reading your Bible, going to church, and “being involved in a ministry”? Were those the tests of discipleship that Christ gave? Does the ability to perform these actions automatically equal discipleship?

    I’m very confused.

    1. bjunews Post author

      Our tipster said that this letter was sent to anyone who was “not recommended” for AGL or GL positions. This group–the “recommended”–would presumably include more students than those who were actually put into leadership roles.

      Good clarification, we’ll print a correction.

  4. MusicGrad

    Does anybody else think that it’s weird that the last two paragraphs are virtually identical? Did Daulton’s secretary even read this before it was sent out? Or maybe this was just a draft? Do we know that this was actually mailed to a current student? (It certainly seems to me to have been mailed -just wondering.)

    Any way you slice it, it’s weird, sad, and a very, very unwise move on BJU’s part.

    1. bjunews Post author

      This scan is an actual letter sent to an actual BJU student. The same letter was sent to other students who have not been recommended for spiritual leadership by their BJU authorities.

  5. lawburr

    When I was at BJU (early ‘80s) I was never asked to be an APC or PC but was also not on Spiritual probation as they called it. In fact I was told that I spent too much time on extension working with my church and not enough time in the dorm. I guess I had too much character. I think the real reason I was not made an “Almost Perfect Christian” is that I am fat. And fat does not fit in at BJU.

  6. 60+ years Alumnus

    This policy of the university is an example of what I shall call FUNDAMENTALIST FASCISM. There is no other term that adequately describes the depths of thought and personality control into which BJU has
    descended. Many years ago I read a book entitled BRAINWASHING IN RED CHINA. At the time I thought of some deja vu aspects as I reflected on some of the events and policies implemented in Communist China. BJU has now officially identified with that ilk of perverted policy as it seeks to CONTROL the very personalities of its students.

  7. Puzzled

    BJUNews, did your tipster indicate that this letter was sent to *all* upperclassmen not recommended for an (A)PC position? Or just residence hall students? If this was sent to town students too, that is a bizarre travesty.

    1. bjunews Post author

      There was no indication of it being sent to town students, I’d guess it was not.

  8. Ezra Hemmingway

    I was (and I suspect that I’m one of a limited few that were) an APC my junior year, but flat out told my PC at the end of that year that I had *NO* interest in being an APC or PC during my senior year. He was like a deer in the headlights… didn’t know what to make of me… the silence was quite loud. I’m sure he sent that bit of info up the food-chain, but I never heard a single thing about it for the last few weeks of my junior year or at all during my senior year. I still got all the APC/PC “privileges” but didn’t have to deal with any of the schlocky, fake, ass-kissing, pharisaical nonsense that went with it. I’m still amazed that they didn’t put me on “spiritual probation”, but now I see that my having become essentially invisible in their system during my last year there was one of the best things that could have happened to me.

    That such a system can: 1.) still exist -and- 2.) be justified by such utter tripe as Jon Daulton (the consummate hypocrite that he seems to be) wrote here, simply blows my mind. This is so blatantly stated yet so passively received that folks like Stalin would stand and applaud, despite the religious aspect.

  9. Andy Glarmphy

    What right does BJU, or any Christian school for that matter, have to implement a program designed to “see [students] develop in their likeness and usefulness to Jesus Christ”? Apparently they are under the assumption that they have some role to play in their students’ character development. These are adults, after all. Shouldn’t they be allowed to develop any way they want? I definitely understand why the attempt of BJU to “mold” students to “please the Lord” is offensive to any young person who wants to live their own life and do their own thing.

    As a student, why would I ever attend any school that tried to shove any ideas of any kind down my throat? BJU is obviously out of touch with the prevailing philosophy of tolerance and coexistence with alternative points of view.

  10. Nine Inch Nail

    Dear DoM Daulton,
    Screw you and the religion of works and performance you rode in on.
    p.s. I want my money back. I pay you for an education, not your head-stuffed-up-your-own-butt opinion of me.

  11. Bill

    I was placed on Spiritual probation my Jr. year and had to fake being a “better” christian. You know, getting up early to read my bible in the hall, meet with the hall leader, go on extension at the old folks home and con them into praying a prayer. Low and behold I made apc my senior year. It didn’t last long though as I was d-apced a few months in and was moved into the hall monitors room so they could keep a eye on me till graduation. Lots of fond memories from my days at Jonestown.

      1. Michael Kreger


        What is your basis for saying that they did the right thing? What did Bill do that was actually WRONG? What’s the inside scoop? Because you seem to KNOW.

        Or is this just another in a string of thoughtless posts by you?

      2. Benjamin G

        bobmo, its not right what Bill did because hypocrisy is not right. However, is Bill’s hypocrisy a result of what he wanted to do, or because he was forced to be a people-pleaser and appease the authority of the school to protect his investment of his time, education, and money? Is it proper that the school places a student in such a position? The position the school puts students in unfortunately may encourage hypocrisy as opposed to true growth as evidenced by Bill’s experience and countless others. I have a difficult time placing the entire blame on Bill without taking a hard look at this probation system (one with little to no Biblical example or precedent).

        1. bobmo

          //Its not right what Bill did because hypocrisy is not right.//
          So far, we agree.

          //However, is Bill’s hypocrisy a result of what he wanted to do, or because he was forced to be a people-pleaser and appease the authority of the school to protect his investment of his time, education, and money?//
          Notice that Bill considered “getting up early to read [his] bible in the hall, meet[ing] with the hall leader, and go[ing] on extension at the old folks home and con[ning] them into praying a prayer” to be disingenuous. “Con them into praying a prayer”? Seriously?

          What Bill should have done instead was to genuinely read his Bible, genuinely met with his Hall Leader, and genuinely gone on extension and pleaded for the unsaved to get saved! There was no need to fake anything. These are all good things to do!

        1. bobmo

          Benjamin G, I think I understood your point, but perhaps you can clarify it. You seem to be saying that the school’s emphasis on outward appearance forces people to play along and pretend to be “good Christians”, rather than actually doing what is right. My point is that people like Bill should have responded to this perceived pressure with a genuinely Godly behavior, rather than faking spirituality.

      3. Benjamin G

        Every person I know that has ever been a part of this “program” has said that it failed, caused them to dislike the school, and do what they were told just because they needed to stay in school/finish the semester/get their degree.

        You cannot tell me that it is the fault of the individual entirely when the administrators of the system are as satisfied with the “hypocrite” result as the “genuine”.

        With so many well meaning alumni (such as myself) are screaming “THIS DOESN’T WORK” you would think that the school would at least look at how they do things. But no, they are convinced that forcing people to go on extension is going to solve a problem–no matter what the student’s heart is.

        1. bobmo

          And I know people who have been greatly helped by program and they have good will toward the school. I’m not sure that anecdotal evidence is the best way to determine the rightness or wrongness of the program.

    1. Michael Kreger

      BJU only does the right thing by accident, or when FORCED to it.

      They certainly don’t try to reach the heart. They force a regime of outward conformity, and that is enough for them.

    2. Bill

      Well Mr. Bomo, I’ll give you a little more background. I went to Jonestown sight unseen as I thought it would be a great place to learn more about Jesus. We used some of their curriculum in high school but I didn’t know too much about the place. Was I in for a surprise, driving up to the campus I saw that it was surrounded by a barbed wire fence with guards at the main entrance…was told it was there not to keep us in but to keep bad people out. I was labelled a rebel fairly early in my time there and was busted on the first hair check the week we arrived. I didn’t have much money but I had to go off campus and get a haircut, I did and my good friend Tony Miller said there still wasn’t enough taper in the back and I was sent off again to pay for another haircut. I learned early on that they were more concerned about outward appearance then to shepherd me in my walk with Jesus. I was an accounting major and my primary focus was to get good grades, graduate, find a job, etc. I studied every night and most weekends, I lived in the library. I didn’t see a need to go to Sunday night church or Wednesday church for that matter as the church I attended growing up did not have those services. This was just unacceptable to the regime. Good Christians are always there when the doors are open…red faced hall leaders quoting “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is”. I had no desire to be a apc, I hated the hypocrisy and their control. The best way to make it up the ladder was to turn someone in for something and then you were on the inside. My future sister in law couldn’t take the control anymore and left after her sophomore year…no credits transferred to her new school. I didn’t want to start over so I had to play their game, and yes it was a sick twisted game of who can be more spiritual, ranking and judging based on outward performance. The Jesus they taught me about was a hard taskmaster who required near perfection. Thankfully God in his mercy led me away from fundamentalism and I am no longer trying to perform for anyone. Jesus is my all in all, you see he got all my bad stuff and gave me all His good stuff. Double imputation, look it up it may change your life. Free at last. BTW, I still don’t go to church Sunday night or Wednesday as my church does not have those services.

  12. Michael Martin

    The irony of this whole thing is as follows: BJU does not allow students to make “grown up” decisions – how late I stay up studying, who my roommate can be, how long my hair/skirt is, etc. Yet the recommendations for spiritual leadership and one’s “status” with God rest heavily upon……students! This is their way of maintaining status quo…look like us, sound like us, act like us. I cringe every time I drive by the campus.

    1. bobmo

      //BJU does not allow students to make “grown up” decisions – how late I stay up studying, who my roommate can be, how long my hair/skirt is, etc.//

      Neither does the military, nor West Point, nor the Naval Academy, or VMI, or any number of other institutions. Do you also cringe when you drive by them?

      1. Michael Martin

        bobmo – I’ll assume your comment is made in sarcasm. If not, it 100% reinforces one of the things wrong with institutions like BJU. My God is a God of love, and don’t get me wrong when I say he hates sin, because he does, but he loves my heart and he loves me. And the way to be more and more Christlike is to develop in impressionable 18-22 year olds a heart that points toward him and not a militaristic approach like the academies do. Those military schools have their place, because I want that discipline in the soldiers that defend my freedom to post stuff on blogs just like the right you have to post the insanity you’ve been posting all day. .

    2. Michael Kreger

      The REAL reason you cringe is that you’re a monster, Mr. Martin. Your heart’s an empty hole. Your brain is full of spiders. You’ve got garlic in your soul, Mr Martin.

      If you would just let Jon Daulton show you the love of Jesus!

      He’s just overflowing with it.

      1. bobmo

        //just like the right you have to post the insanity you’ve been posting all day//

        Exaggerate much?

        Bill said that he faked being a “better” christian. I think that is significant.

      2. Michael Kreger

        Well, bobmo, if that’s the best you can do, then you have a pretty pathetic basis for your statements. Because you don’t KNOW why he was forced to do those things. It is the BJU system that makes people do stuff they wouldn’t otherwise do, which means they are faking it to one degree or another. And if those activities were compulsory if he wished to avoid further trouble (and I don’t think there is any legitimate doubt about that, based on what I have heard from MANY people over the years), then he is more honest about it than any BJ Defender has ever been. After all, he checked their blocks, and they immediately promoted him. Because that’s how we define Christian maturity, right? Just check a few blocks! Then, for reasons unknown even to you, they demoted him again. Maybe he took a long, deep breath during prayer group. I have been harshly criticized for doing that, and I didn’t even know I was doing it, or why it was deemed offensive. The person was criticizing my heart on the basis of a deep breath. Sometimes, a deep breath is nothing more than a deep breath. But it can be used as evidence of “sin in the heart.” It sounds crazy, but I have witnessed it. If it had happened to me when I was a student, I could have been placed on spiritual probation for taking a deep breath. Their writings are quite clear that you don’t have to have actually violated any rule to merit their disapprobation, even to the point of expulsion. All it takes is someone deciding that you somehow “violate the spirit of the school,” and your doom can be sealed. Such a repressive atmosphere like BJU, where the darkest of motives are attributed to the smallest of actions in anyone The Chosen Ones wish to take down a peg or two (and where, conversely, the most perverted of behaviors are winked at when done by those The Chosen wish to promote)! If you wish to get ahead in their little pecking order, ANYTHING will serve your desired end. Because all it takes is a murky accusation, without a scrap of evidence, and Bill (or Mike, or bobmo) can be condemned forever, without ever knowing why, or by whom. So, some people try to work work work in hopes of pleasing The Chosen Ones and keeping them at bay.

        A healthy environment, this is not.

        Have you ever read about the Stanford Prison Experiment? It might do you some good to take a gander at it.

        1. bobmo

          Your comment contains a lot of assumptions and unfounded criticism.

          //Because you don’t KNOW why he was forced to do those things.//
          That’s true, but I said that it sounds like they did the right thing. I based that on Bill’s response.

          //It is the BJU system that makes people do stuff they wouldn’t otherwise do, which means they are faking it to one degree or another.//
          This does not follow logically. I would hope that any school worth its salt would make people do things they wouldn’t normally do.

          //After all, he checked their blocks, and they immediately promoted him. Because that’s how we define Christian maturity, right?//
          He said he faked it. Man can be fooled.

          //Maybe he took a long, deep breath during prayer group.//
          See my first sentence.

          //Their writings are quite clear that you don’t have to have actually violated any rule to merit their disapprobation, even to the point of expulsion.//
          And you disagree with this? Is it your position that continued enrollment should be based entirely on following rules? Isn’t this what you are criticizing in the first place?

  13. Michael Kreger

    Nor do the military, nor West Point, nor the Naval Academy, or VMI, or any number of other institutions try to make their students believe that their obedience to a bunch of inane rules, and to a bunch of Barney Fife bully boys like Jon Daulton (who would have the ever-loving daylights beaten out of him if he ever tried his little games out in the real world), is a reliable indicator of their standing in the sight of Almighty God. Nor do they put people on “spiritual probation” for such high crimes and misdemeanors as “questions about spiritual growth and interest.” While they do put students in charge of other students, it is because they will soon go into a hierarchical organization in which decisions (and obedience to those orders) are actual matters of life and death, and so they must learn to live in that kind of an organization.

    If I am correctly informed, BJU cannot make that claim.

    How’s that Kool-aid?

    1. bobmo

      //It is because they will soon go into a hierarchical organization in which decisions (and obedience to those orders) are actual matters of life and death//

      I would argue that preparation for the Christian life is much more more important than mere life and death.

      1. Michael Kreger

        It is also a very different critter, with very different methods of preparation, as anyone with even a passing knowledge of biblical Christianity should surely understand.

        We don’t “prepare for the Christian life” by going to Boot Camp, crawling through the mud, doing pushups, and running in formation until we puke. Nor do we learn to behave as Christians by following a system that would make the Gestapo and Stasi proud. They use many of the same methods, after all, as has been remarked in my hearing by MANY graduates, going back for at least six decades.

        In fact, we don’t “prepare” for the Christian life at ALL. We aren’t, and then we are, because of an outside agent…not because of ourselves. And THEN we start to grow in our faith.

        Yours is an utterly silly comparison.

        The more apt comparison of our Christian growth is with a child’s growth as he is nurtured by his parents…not with a Private as he is “nurtured” by his Drill Instructor.

        And our ultimate destiny is NOT dependent on how well we “prepare” for it.

        The more I think about what you say in defense of the indefensible, the more I wonder if you know my Jesus? Do you really KNOW him? Or have you been deceived by the counterfeit that has been peddled, “Without Apology,” since 1927?

        1. bobmo


          Thanks you for your concern for my salvation. Yes, I do know the Lord. He has forgiven me of my sins by His grace through no merit of my own.

          But, you have made several in correct assumptions in your comments. Of course, we don’t prepare for Christianity by “going to Boot Camp, crawling through the mud, doing pushups, and running in formation until we puke,” but we certainly do prepare to become “a workman that needeth not to be ashamed.” And this does indeed involve the spiritual equivalent of crawling through the mud and doing pushups!

          These things are not done to obtain salvation, nor are they guarantors of sanctification (case in point: see Bill’s earlier comment about faking being a “better” christian.) But BJU makes no claim that they do.

          1. Michael Kreger

            WRONG! The process of becoming an approved workman (one who has earned his certificate as a master of his craft) does NOT involve the same things as boot camp. It is nothing more than progressive training in the chosen craft. Think of a woodcarver, or a silversmith, who works on projects of increasing difficulty as part of his training for journeyman status. It is NOT the same thing as a soldier’s training.

            Besides, NONE of this training, even for the soldier, involves the spiritually abusive practices championed by BJU in its “discipline” system.

            Yeah, I went to school with Daulton. He, like others of his ilk, were a stench in our nostrils when we were students, and they continue to be a stench in our nostrils today. One of them is almost finished destroying my parents’ (former) church right now.

            1. bobmo

              Some aspects of the Christian life are very much like military training. In fact, the Apostle Paul likened the discipline required to that of running a race. In fact, I think he would like the crawling through the mud analogy 🙂

            2. bobmo

              You say you “went to school with Daulton.” But that’s not what I asked. I asked if you ever met him. Have you ever spent time with him?

      2. Michael Kreger

        Oh…if BJU makes no claims that “these things” are a guarantor of sanctification, then why did they promote Bill as soon as he did “these things?” And why are they so quick to criticize someone for NOT doing “these things,” and use them as a hammer to criticize someone’s spiritual condition?

        1. bobmo

          Because, by his own admission, he faked it. He put on an act and only appeared spiritual. It can be done.

    2. Ezra Hemmingway

      I think “don’t feed the troll” applies to this “bobmo” idiot. He’s getting his rocks off on yanking your chain (I’m sure he’d insist that he’s “contending for the faith”, but anyone reading all this knows that’s not the case). His 15 minutes should come to an end, no?

      1. Michael Kreger

        Agreed. That’s why his latest lunacy remains unanswered. I tried, but he just deteriorated as things went along. His thinking is Exhibit A for why that place is dying physically (it died spiritually decades ago, if it ever had life in the first place).

      2. bobmo

        Ezra, when you stop engaging in rational, respectful conversation and start name-calling, you say more about yourself than you do anyone else. I would suggest that emotional responses are probably not the best way to make a convincing argument.

  14. Randy Page, Director of Public Relations, Bob Jones University

    This is not a new program. BJU has had “character probation” for a number of years.

    For this next semester, there are a total of two students (less than 1/10 of 1% of our entire student body) who are on “character probation.”

    It is a program we use for students who demonstrate a real need for someone to come alongside and assist them in their Christian walk. Through this program, students are matched with an older brother/sister in the faith who can mentor and encourage them in applying the truths of God’s Word in their daily lives.

    Both corporately and individually, it is our desire that every faculty, staff and student exhibit fruitful service for Jesus Christ. This program, combined with other mentoring and discipleship programs for all of our students, are designed to encourage all of us—students, faculty and staff—to be more Christlike.

    1. Mister B

      Please clarify:
      Did these students have an opportunity to address the vague “question about their spirituality leveled against them? Were they able to explain their side of the story? Do they have any way to appeal this decision?

      Will these students be allowed to participate fully in all activities, and associate with any/all students of their choosing?

      “This is not primarily a disciplinary action”. So it is disciplinary in some way. Why and for what reasons?

      What are the qualifications of the counselor(s) that will be meeting with these students?

    2. Ezra Hemmingway

      When an institution steps in and writes their own definition of what “Christlike” means, that tells you everything you need to know. When an institution steps in uninvited and forces that definition upon someone whom they’ve deemed “needy” of “lacking in Christian character”, that confirms everything you’ve been thinking.

      There is no Christlikeness within the structure or operation of that institution. God doesn’t give us the spirit of fear, and His Love doesn’t coerce or manipulate.

      In my own opinion, if (and that’s a BIG if) God ever had anything to do with BJU, that was a very long time ago. Ichabod is writ large upon that campus.

  15. Pingback: BJU Responds to Our “Character Probation” Post, Contests Details | BJU News

  16. 1988_grad

    I can attest that the character probation has been around since at least 1987 and in my case it worked. The previous spring, I was a PC and was destined to be a PC for my second senior year. My hall monitor noticed that I had a couple of uncheckable cassettes (Chicago, Phil Collins and Lionel Richey, I believe) in a box that I was taking out to my car after commencement. He nearly had a fit and told me he was going to have to turn me in to our dorm supervisor. I said okay and continued carrying things out to my car.

    The next August I was back at school and ran into the hall monitor and he inquired about my status. Apparently, the dorm supervisor had failed to do anything about his report and he must have had some fit in the DoMs office. Within a couple of days, I was very quietly dePC’d and told to report the the hall monitor’s room where I would be bunking.

    That was the best thing that could have happened. I was rescued from 3 freshmen and some neighboring sophomores that I was supposed to be in charge of and sent to a room with the hall monitor and one other upperclassman. It was well worth being considered a reprobate to not be in charge of someone else’s spiritual condition.

  17. Michael Kreger


    Awesome. This post makes me happy on several levels. It’s like judo or something.

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