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Alumni create scholarship for PLNU students who ‘challenge the status quo’

PLNU junior and English literature education major Jordan Hill is the first recipient of an endowed “Blunt” scholarship worth $1,000. The scholarship is for students who challenge the status-quo and question authority at PLNU in a creative way.

“At last my parents are proud of me—I might finally get invited to sit next to my brother in the family Christmas photo this year,” Hill joked after he won the scholarship.

PLNU Alumni and theology adjunct professor Michael Christensen, who started this scholarship along with 12 former PLNU students from the class of 1976, said the scholarship started because he was the former editor of the student newspaper at PLNU that challenged homophobic rules and policies they found ridiculous but with humor.

“I think it’s fantastic that the former Blunt staffers reward students that think outside of the box, students with a sense of responsibility to the larger community that use humor to highlight things that are wrong or ridiculous in the status quo,” Hill said.

After a series of controversial articles, the student newspaper was soon shut down, but they started another newspaper called “The Blunt” not officially approved by the university that was distributed during the 1976 school year. Once administration found out who was behind the newspaper, Christensen said that several writers were expelled and others placed on disciplinary probation for their work. Some of the writers were invited back to the school, but others later applied elsewhere.

“Some of the issues the paper took on were these: Is homosexuality a sin? Should the administration continue to suspend students suspected of being gay or lesbian? Why should dorm hours be enforced for women students but not for men?” Christensen said.

In 2003, Christensen said that the former staff writers decided to put together a fund that encourages PLNU students to creatively challenge authority. They later raised $15,000 for the scholarship fund.

“Now we have endowed a scholarship at PLNU to encourage ‘radical’ students with creative talent and a social conscience to continue to push the edge, challenge the status quo, and call for change with satirical humor,” Christensen said.

Christensen said that Hill received the scholarship because of a his program on PLNU’s PointTV the “Bye-Weekly Show.” Hill’s show is similar to shows like the late-night show called The Colbert Report that ended in 2014.

Professor of Literature Carol Blessing said Hill is an unorthodox writer and always stands out.

“Jordan has distinguished himself through his quick wit, cultural satire, and intelligent participation in my literature courses [and] demonstrated that fact that he is an independent thinker who does not always follow the rules,” Blessing said.

Professor of Media Communications Alan Hueth, who supervises Hill’s television show, said his energy is great for television.

“Jordan brings a confidence and energy to each television and film set he works on, and his liberal satire and zany scripts keep me on my toes,” Hueth said.

The scholarship will be offered every year in January and a winner will be picked in April.

Christensen encourages radical, yet creative students to apply to the scholarship

“I hope administration, alumni, students and faculty realize it’s okay to have differences and different viewpoints,” Christensen said.

 

PHOTO COURTESY OF MICHAEL J. CHRISTENSEN

 

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Jake Henry

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