“Because of all you do” was the premise of PLNU’s Pastor’s Day 2018, as worded under the Events tab on Point Loma’s official website.
I couldn’t help smelling the staunch irony that hung in the air last Friday as PLNU hosted its annual Pastor’s Day here on campus. An event that is likely intended to be a reverent nod towards our community’s pastors far and wide, it read to me more like a public statement in allegiance with one pastor currently at the forefront of all our minds.
In complete honesty, I didn’t know we celebrated Pastor’s Day here at Loma. Somehow, I was left out of the loop because last week’s event was nowhere on my radar. Therefore, pulling up the crest of Lomaland Drive Friday morning to see a large green and gold banner reading “Welcome Pastors!” left me buzzing with questions.
These questions began to arise just one week prior, when Loma’s student body was collectively put on notice via email from VP for Student Development Caye Smith of Title IX misconduct allegations regarding a particular—at the time unnamed—faculty member. Little did many of us anticipate just how warranted this email blast was, 2 p.m. on a Friday afternoon. The scandal unpacked itself over the course of the following weekend.
A conglomeration of articles, interviews and even an on-air news segment illuminated two people in a story that spelled out the scandal by the syllable. What came from the first articles Lomabeat.com released on February 3 was the subsequent unravelling of a story no one knows exactly what to do with, even still.
Public records from lawsuits and countersuits have made accessible the intimate details of the dichotomy of two narratives that we, as the Loma community, are torn to trust. Conversations among classrooms and discussions between peers have in turn left us with shaken morale as we try to navigate this news within our own reasoning.
While external media may be in the business of exploitation, it appears PLNU has taken a notably inward stance regarding the debacle. Limited communication has been made public despite the domestic tie it has to our university.
This being said, complete blackout was not an option—the story has gotten too big to sweep under the rug. Students and faculty received a follow up campus-wide email from President Bob Brower on February 6, which only vaguely outlined where the university stands currently:
“Given the federal requirements under Title IX our response and subsequent actions are limited at this time. This required investigation process is lengthy and demands confidentiality despite significant media attention and commentary from others,” said Brower via email.
So my question still remains: if Loma is choosing a limited response approach to this community-impacting issue, is upholding Pastor’s Day really the way to do that, with everything still so fresh?
Is Pastor’s Day a tradition? Yes.
Was the event most likely planned months in advance? It’s safe to say they didn’t call Pastor Cheryl Sanders up the night before.
But could Pastor’s Day also be sending a certain statement to students, faculty and visitors of PLNU of whom the administration sides with in this time of divide? I’m still questioning that myself.