Bob Jones University Suspends Senior For Watching ’Glee’
A 23-year-old college senior claims he was suspended from Bob Jones University (BJU) after he was caught watching the gay-friendly Fox show, "Glee," the South Carolina CBS 7 news station reported.
Chris Peterman was scheduled to graduate in a week but officials from the ultra-conservative Charismatic Christian South Carolina college suspended the student after they were informed he was watching "Glee" at a Starbucks off campus.
Peterman says he knew what he was getting into when he first attended the strict university as the school is known for its intense student rules. It has banned sex, smoking, watching TV on campus, stealing, owning hardcore pornography and much more.
In regards to television content, the school’s handbook states: "Students are to avoid any types of entertainment that could be considered immodest or that contain profanity, scatological realism, sexual perversion, erotic realism, lurid violence, occultism and false philosophical or religious assumptions."
"I wanted to go to Bob Jones, I loved Bob Jones," the Peterman told the news station. "I did agree to that," he says. "For 3 years, I lived under it, and I was fine."
The student says the issue started many months ago after he formed a group called "Do Right BJU," which raised awareness about sexual abuse on campus. In December, the group held a silent protest.
"That’s all when my problems started," Peterman said.
After Christmas break, Peterman says he was being "harassed" by the school’s staff who told him he must meet with BJU’s dean on a weekly basis. After that, the senior claims that he started to receive points against his record for breaking the school’s strict rules. Once a student gets 150 demerits, they are suspended from the university.
"At first, it was for small things, like not shaving, or arriving late back to the dorm," he said.
In April a student caught Peterman watching "Glee" in an off campus Starbucks.
"I love Glee. I’ve watched it from the beginning," Peterman said.
But the school’s administrators did not share the same sentiments. Not long after the incident, Peterman was asked to see the dean once again. He was harshly punished and was given a whopping 50 demerits.
The student claims that the dean said "Glee" was "morally reprehensible" and went against the school’s values.
"It was because I was watching ’Glee,’" he says. "If I had been watching basketball, he says that would have been fine."
The news station contacted BJU and was told "Peterman’s problems have nothing to do with the TV show." Carol Keirstead, a BJU spokes woman, said that students are allowed to watch television off campus but only certain content. She said that shows, such as "Glee," "would not be considered appropriate.
"We expect students to obey the student covenant in the spirit and the letter. Our goal is to help him succeed, and we’ve done everything we can to help him succeed," Keirstead said in a statement.
The reason for his demerit reads: "insubordination/disrespect." Peterman said he will appeal the suspension and has believes he will get his degree.
"God is in control. God has a plan for this," he said.
The article sparked a large reaction and a number of readers posted comments to the story. One person points out that Peterman was standing against the "Tina Anderson / Chuck Phelps issue" and that "Glee" was just a way the school could get him expelled.
Rev. Chuck Phelps resigned from the BJU cooperating board after a group of alumni asked the school to remove him, Journal Watchdog pointed out in a December 2011 article. According to ABC news, in 1997 Phelps allegedly allowed a man to rape and impregnate Tina Anderson -- a 15-year-old girl in his congregation. Anderson was later "forced to confess her ’sin’ -- the pregnancy -- in front of her congregation." ABC also notes that Phelps "helped arrange for Anderson to move thousands of miles away from home to live with an IFB family and give her child up for adoption."
Another commenter said that Peterman "was targeted for expulsion the day he started the movement to remove Chuck Phelps."
"He had a target on his back and BJU admins took every shot they could get at Chris. In the end, being privy to some recordings of the meeting itself, it was obvious Chris hadn’t violated enough rules to be expelled," the comment reads.
The university has been involved in controversy before. In 2000, for example, following then-candidate George W. Bush’s visit there, the national media discovered and played up the school’s rule forbidding interracial dating. In the ensuing firestorm, the school changed its policy. Eight years later, the school formally apologized for its "racially hurtful" policies.