Expelled BJU Student Says He Was Wrongly Punished
Chris Peterman tells Patch that many of the demerits against him were for violating rules that don't exist.
The Bob Jones University student who was expelled last week for reportedly engaging in inappropriate behavior, which included, among other things, watching the Fox show "Glee," spoke to Patch about his experience at the Christian college in Greenville.
Chris Peterman, a Florida native and a senior at BJU, was kicked off campus after what he called a series of targeted disciplinary actions by the school's administration.
Peterman said that late last year, he started a group called "Do Right BJU," which was a protest group formed in reaction to reports that Chuck Phelps, a BJU trustee and New Hampshire pastor, had forced a woman named Tina Anderson to ask her church congregation for "forgiveness" after she'd been raped by a member of the church.
That struck a nerve, Peterman said, as he has siblings who had been sexually assaulted.
"After the 20/20 investigation, I started speaking out abuse, and that's when I started getting demerits," Peterman said.
Peterman organized a protest with Do Right BJU to raise awareness of sexual abuse and he also called for Phelps' resignation. When he returned to school after Christmas break, he said, things had changed. He was required to meet with a dean at the college once a week because of the administrations' concern about his behavior.
"They made me read one book of The Bible a day," Peterman said. "You have to understand, I was already working 25 hours a week, going to school full time, going to weekly counseling and helping out with Do Right BJU."
The counseling sessions, he said, devolved into critiques of his social media activity. The administration accused him of posting a tweet on his Twitter account during a sermon. Peterman said it was done on his phone just before he went to the service. More demerits included points for not shaving and for watching "Glee" at a Starbucks off-campus.
"I wasn't doing anything wrong. I don't think people understand that," Peterman said. "The things I got demerits for are not against the rules. Like watching TV off-campus. There are no rules against watching TV off-campus."
More critiques of his social media behavior included the administration's criticism of a photo he posted on his Facebook that showed him at Target. Far in the background, he said, were photos of the store's women's swimsuits.
"The next week, I was told I was causing my brothers in Christ to stumble. He called them lingerie," Peterman said.
Now, Peterman said, he's two days away from seeing his would-be graduation date pass. After going $35,000 in debt, Peterman said, he still will not receive a degree. Peterman said he had no disciplinary issues with at the school until he called for Phelps' resignation.
"I just think the timing is very interesting," Peterman said. "If you look at my demerit record, you can see I wasn't breaking written rules. If you saw what I was written up for, you'd see that. I want my degree. But I also want abuse victims to get a voice."
Bob Jones University has not responded to a request from Patch to comment on the story.