Bryan College student: Editor shouldn’t have written about professor’s arrest

Bryan College Triangle editor Alex Green is getting a lot of support on his Facebook page for revealing in a self-published article that Biblical Studies professor David Morgan resigned after being accused of attempted child molestation.

But one student at the Christian college in Dayton, Tenn., wishes his classmate had not written about Morgan’s arrest “because sadly, slander and gossip are all Mr. Green’s article accomplished.”

Bryan College senior Samuel Gilbertson says in a letter to JimRomenesko.com that “the overwhelming response of the students on this stunned campus is one of remorse and shame that one of our own classmates would be the cause of such a blemish to Bryan College — not that a former professor was found out to not be as upstanding as we believed.”

It is Alex Green who must wake up each day knowing that he has caused the reputation of a man and of a college to be forever tainted because of his selfish and misguided notion that the public has a right to know whatever they deem important.

Read Gilbertson’s letter to Romenesko readers after the jump.

From SAMUEL GILBERTSON: As a senior at Bryan College, I had become fairly well aquainted with Dr. Morgan over the past two years he was here. I cannot express the deep sadness and remorse that I felt when I heard that he had resigned, and especially the circumstances by which he resigned. You see, I had heard about the situation prior to the article written by Alex Green, as had numerous other students. Lost in the clamor of a misinformed public’s cries of outrage at the attempted “censorship” of the administration here at Bryan College was the fact that the administration had not only informed certain students of Dr. Morgan’s resignation, but had also offered counseling as those students dealt with the shock of the situation. The administration addressed the situation sufficiently and responsibly to those who were under Dr. Morgan’s direct leadership and influence.

Samuel Gilbertson

To compare what has happened at Bryan College to the recent scandal at Penn State is a grievous mistake indeed. The administration did not turn a blind eye to the situation, but rather worked to remove the problem. It did not attempt to cover up Dr. Morgan’s conduct completely, but rather addressed it at a personal and appropriate level with the students who would be most affected by the news — without creating the mass hysteria and speculation that is now running rampant throughout the media. Not only did our president and his cabinet attempt to treat this issue in a manner that is consistent with the standards of this institution, but they also acted appropriately within the legal grounds dealing with the confidentiality of a former employee and his rights. No misconduct took place upon this campus, and there was no chance of Dr. Morgan ever acting inappropriately here in the future.

Sadly, and rather piteously, the cry I have heard so frequently on this campus in the past two days is this: “The students have a right to know!” This clarion call is a disgraceful testament to the very reason the administration sought to keep the situation private — the students advocating their rights to hear this gossip are both too immature and too naive to handle the information they would sell their souls to obtain. To say that we as students have the “right” to know what a former employee during the months that he was not interacting with the student body is akin to saying that our Dean of Student Affairs owes it to the student body to publish every infraction that a student commits. After all, those are the people that we are rubbing shoulders with in the cafeteria and in the student center — our classmates who have their own secret sins and vices — surely we should be informed so that we know who to avoid, who to ostercize, and who to slander! Because sadly, slander and gossip are all Mr. Green’s article accomplished.

The cause for which he has been lauded and praised is ambiguous and unclear — what has been accomplished here? Has the student body been “set free by the truth,” as Green asserts? Or have we willingly clasped the iron shackles upon ourselves as we submit ourselves to the fetters of defamation, hearsay, and slander? Indeed, the knowledge of the situation has not benefited anyone — other than the journalism career of Mr. Green, perhaps — and has instead sown seeds of mistrust and doubt upon this campus. Is it really so freeing to be reminded that our professors are human and fallible just like we as students are? No, the only right that our student body has is to be free from the problem, and that problem was removed by the resignation of Dr. Morgan.

Alex Green

A sinner has been reviled, an administration has been denounced, and a hero has been knighted. And yet, I wonder if the hero is quite as deserving as the public and media make him out to be. Has it ever been so glorious to be the person who places the scarlet letter upon the chest of a fallen man? A man who has already come to terms with the consequences of his attempted action — who has lost his career, reputation, and possibly even his freedom? No, rather it is Alex Green who must wake up each day knowing that he has caused the reputation of a man and of a college to be forever tainted because of his selfish and misguided notion that the public has a right to know whatever they deem important.

To conclude, the overwhelming response of the students on this stunned campus is one of remorse and shame that one of our own classmates would be the cause of such a blemish to Bryan College–not that a former professor was found out to not be as upstanding as we believed. I hope those who laud Mr. Green’s attempt at “justice” can reconcile their part in advocating their right to know all the incriminating details that do not even affect their lives. As a long-tenured staff member here at Bryan told me, “The best definition of gossip is this: sharing detrimental information about others with those who are neither part of the problem nor part of the solution.”

Justice is underway in Dr. Morgan’s case — he will be held accountable by law for his actions, and rightly so. But mercy was also extended to him by this administration, and that is what should be commended: the chance he was given to live without the scarlet letter — a letter that we know to revile in a work of literature but are so hypocritical that we covet its crimson splendor in reality. Is that not the true scandal on this campus?

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