Graham Walker, President of Patrick Henry College, Announces Resignation

Photo from Patrick Henry College. Image links to source.
Photo from Patrick Henry College. Image links to source.

By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator

According to an email sent out today to Patrick Henry College (PHC) alumni by Daniel Noa, President of the PHC Alumni Association, Dr. Graham Walker announced his resignation today during an all-campus meeting. According to Noa’s email,

I have been officially informed that as of 4:30 PM (EDT) today, Dr. Graham Walker has resigned his duties as President of Patrick Henry College. A search committee will be formed under the direction of the Board of Trustees to find a long term replacement.

Noa notes that “there has been tremendous friction between the alumni community and Dr. Walker during the independent review process,” a reference to the alumni board established to review PHC’s handling of campus sexual assault allegations. Concerning Walker’s resignation, Noa also states that he sees it “as a positive change” and “a great step toward a bigger and more successful future for Patrick Henry College.”

You can view the PHC Alumni Association’s email in its entirety as a PDF here.

The Legend of the Bitter Alum: Hope’s Story, Part Three

Homeschoolers U

HA note: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Hope” is a pseudonym specifically chosen by the author. All other names herein have been changed as well.

< Part Two

Part Three

“Moving on,” in my case, meant a complete restructuring of my world at PHC. I changed rooms and churches, stopped hanging out with other students from Distance Learning, and started asking a lot of questions about the Tragic Meltdown.

It was still fresh in the minds of the students, which meant that some of them wouldn’t shut up, some of them wouldn’t open up, and some of them were okay with talking so long as it was in private. Everyone responds to grief differently.

From the ones who would talk privately, I learned a great deal.

I learned that the quickest way to annoy any student was to suggest that someone “won” the fight – everyone was eager to assure me that there were no winners. “Everyone got hurt,” the students said emphatically. It was the most common refrain. Even Dr. Farris had not gone unscathed. People didn’t easily forgive him for airing his disagreements with the professors at the student’s graduation. “That day was about the graduates! Many of them were close with those professors! Why should they have had to hear their mentors abused in public on what should have been their day of celebration?”

I learned also that the fight had been building for years, but mitigated through the efforts of the former Dean of Academic Affairs, who was able to keep the peace. It was only when the dean had enough and left the school that the whole Meltdown happened – which made me suspect that he’d probably left to avoid burn out.

I also learned that no one really could explain why it happened. I heard a lot of theories. Dr. Farris’ temper figured prominently in most versions. Others might reference a flaw of this professor or that. One of the professors was prickly about his honor, couldn’t shrug off an insult. Another professor was egging things on, demanded that the students in his class take sides – the one girl who’d walked out told me she’d done so because she figured if she had to take a side, she’d prefer to at least pick which side it was.

I asked about the writings, said that they didn’t look like they were in conflict, and was told that it was a fight more of personalities, than doctrines. As I said, however, these were the things I learned from those who would only talk in private.

Of the ones who wouldn’t shut up, there were three students in particular that I soon learned I didn’t like. They were very angry and condescending in public. Any ASE or article written by them was sure to offend. The college announced it had received accreditation, the threesome looked sour. They frequently argued that people should get out now while they had a chance, which was especially insulting to the freshmen and Distance Learners, none of whom appreciated being treated like brainless infants.

The newcomers, far from helpless, lashed back indiscriminately with their own equally insulting conviction that the seniors were mighty poor losers who should just drop the subject.

It was as if someone planned a birthday party and a wake in the same location at the same time and didn’t bother to warn the guests.

So there’s people with party hats and noise makers wandering around, bumping into black-armbanded mourners with tissue boxes. And both groups are convinced it was the other group who read the invite wrong.

I got into an email exchange with one of the three when she sent out an All Student Email that I thought was unnecessarily antagonistic. I asked why she was even on campus if she was so determined to be displeased by everything. She told me she was trapped, her credits wouldn’t transfer, and so she had to stay if she wanted her degree. She only had to tough it out one more year.

That, I completely understood.

Still, the year of the toxic party-wake created the unshakable image of the “bitter alum.” These few students, with their alumni counterparts, had long since given up any hope of fixing things. They weren’t talking out of a desire for reform. They were there only because they were trapped, and so they only communicated anger and despair.

In time, of course, those voices fell silent as they found areas in which they were accepted and welcomed and encouraged to invest.

But other voices arose, belonging to people who were angry but not in despair, and they were not heard.

The Administration went through a complete turn-over after the Tragic Meltdown. So did the student body.

The Legend of the Bitter Alum was known, but not the context, not the motives, and not the identity.

As the legend was neither forgiven nor forgotten, there were many who were eager to hunt the Bitter Alum and only the people who had been there could know that the Alum of Legend had moved to greener pastures.

The Board had been too far removed from the action, those in the Administration who could be expected to know were removed from power, and the Student Body and most of the alumni were just too young.

When the New Republic Article came out, the Alumni President went to the Board and told them they had better listen this time. He warned them that the voices behind the article were not the same voices they had assumed. This time, there had better be reform, because the costs of doing otherwise were far too great.

For the most part, there’s been progress. The school did create an Independent Review Board, they encouraged discussion of the IRB’s findings, and they seem willing to support the suggestions. We’re still waiting to see how far they are willing to go, but all gains are incremental.

In the meantime, just gotta keep talking. Increment by increment, I’m confident we’ll get there if we’re just persistent enough.

End of series.

The Legend of the Bitter Alum: Hope’s Story, Part Two

Homeschoolers U

HA note: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Hope” is a pseudonym specifically chosen by the author. All other names herein have been changed as well.

< Part One

Part Two

I can still remember his glare, the way his lips clenched and eyes narrowed, and then he took his red pen and scrawled his judgment across my paper. The look and the words combined to tell me all I would ever need to know about myself. That I was a failure. That I would never measure up. That my best efforts were utterly worthless.

It was December of 2006, the last week of class before finals, and twenty-four hours before, my roommates, Alice and Amy, had come back from a meeting with the dean of student life as two utterly broken girls.

A few weeks earlier, over Thanksgiving break, Alice had been sexually assaulted by Ryan, a man I had once considered a close friend. She didn’t have to say much for me to know she was telling the truth and I didn’t press for details. I didn’t want to know and I thought it would be insensitive to make her tell.

When she told me what happened, I tried to be supportive. I told her that he’d pay for it – I was fully convinced he would be expelled from the school. I told her I believed her, didn’t blame her, and that Ryan had always been weak in that area.

After all, who’d know that better than me? Sign after sign I’d seen all that semester . . . he wasn’t a gentleman, wasn’t pure in thought. He was a stalker, who lived to see the prey’s fear. How many times had I seen him sneak up on a friend, just to terrify them? Not startle – terrify. He had cruel eyes and he licked his lips.

I even felt a sense of relief when she told me, because finally things were out in the open. The problem had finally been defined.

All three of us skipped Biology lab that morning, to let the news sink in and to avoid taking class with him. Alice and Amy decided to take a nap, as they’d been up late talking. Once they were asleep, I left the room, walked down to the basement door of Red Hill, and waited for Ryan to arrive.

I didn’t have to wait long. Lab was just ending and he soon came out. He smiled, but I didn’t wait for his greeting.

“I know what you did,” I told him, loudly but with finality. “Alice told me. You were very wrong, and you will pay for it. People will find out about it. A lot of people are going to find out.” He tried to defend himself, but I didn’t listen. I’d said what I needed to say, so I turned and left.

I expected that to be very nearly the last word on the subject, or at least the last word that I would ever need to make on the subject. Things didn’t turn out that way. Alice and Amy did come back from the first meeting with the dean hopeful, reporting that she – the dean – had been very upset by what she’d heard and that she’d promised (if it was true) to expel him.

Well, the catch was in the qualifier, I guess, although I’ve never really been sure. My interactions with the dean were almost all indirect and the ones that I did have was so cold, so professional, and so distant, that I can’t begin to speculate on her motives.

In any case, things began to go all wrong shortly thereafter. Ryan was angry. Very angry. What’s the phrase, “high dudgeon?” That was it . . . the absolute, iron-clad, self-righteous assurance that what he had done was perfectly right, or if not perfectly right, that at least it was something that no one had any right to challenge him on.

It might not have been so bad, except that I was expecting things to be quick and simple. Oh, probably not court conviction, it’s not like we had any proof that the police could take to trial, but obviously this was going to be public. Obviously he was going to be disgraced. Obviously he would go away and leave us alone. I mean, seriously, this was sexual assault we’re talking about. People get expelled for that.

But it didn’t happen.

Lunch happened, he was there. Night fell, he was on the sidewalks or in the bushes. I remember coming around the building once and jumping out of my skin to see him so close. Heart in my mouth and breathing heavily, I caught up to some other walkers as quick as I could.

He did jump Alice once. Didn’t do anything, just scared her. I was furious.

The college asked us to keep quiet while the investigation was ongoing. I could understand that. Don’t want to crucify a person before you know he’s guilty . . . this silence did align with my own convictions against gossip. But the longer the thing went on, the more I realized this silence was isolating me. I had only my roommates and my all-too-distant mother for support.

Both of my roommates left campus that weekend, leaving me alone with this madman. I didn’t expect, when I said good bye to them, that it was going to be much of a problem, but I had severely underestimated how much Ryan scared me. The moment night fell, I began to remember so much that had not meant anything to me before . . .

. . . that blow to the face he’d given me in a pillow fight, so hard that my glasses were driven deep into my nose and I’d blacked out for a split second . . .

. . . him telling me about how he’d climbed D2 to plaster nightmarish posters over the girls’ second story windows to “celebrate” Halloween, and how disappointed he was that the security guards had removed them so soon . . .

. . . all our trash talk about martial arts and how he could take me in a fight, which somehow didn’t feel much like trash talk now . . .

. . . each time I’d tried to pull back and he’d ignored my hints and every time I’d given way because I didn’t want to be a prude . . .

Once upon a time, I’d been excited to think that he was a little bit dangerous. Now? Now, it was night, I didn’t have a roommate with me, and he was angry. If he wanted to retaliate, I was the only available target. And he knew I was alone. And he could climb. And he could beat me. And he never did take ‘no’ from me, not even on little things.

I was horribly terrified and far more alone than I’d ever been in my life.

I slept in the RD’s room that weekend, but that was only at night. The RD and my own RA were both incredibly busy people. I felt guilty for taking up their time, and wanted to talk to Amelia, the RA I had adopted as my own. Stupid me, I asked permission first.

It was denied.

For most of the semester, I had been in the habit of walking up to Founder’s several times a night just “to get a drink of water” and also to scope out the events – always did hate to miss a party. I didn’t dare do that alone now, but I also was fully convinced that it was not right to spill the details. I asked a friend to accompany me “because there is someone on campus that I’m scared of.”

Word made it back to the dean, who sent me an order through the RA to shut up. “Don’t be scaring people,” they said. “It isn’t true anyway. Don’t be seeking attention.” I shut up.

Then came the day when we realized none of this was ever going to go away. The day we realized they weren’t going to expel Ryan. Twenty-four hours of hopeless uncertainty, then the meeting where they’d make it official.

And that was the night my paper was due.

Actually, I had two papers due. One was an Economics paper that I had planned to write on the financial considerations of making vs. buying a dress for the Liberty Ball. Ryan, my roommates, two other guys, and I had planned that we would all go together dressed in LOTR costumes – I was going to be Rosie. I didn’t have time to change topics.

Each word I wrote was sheer agony, a blow to an open wound, and I couldn’t allow myself to cry. I had to finish that bloody paper, so I could do the next one.

I could have done them on the weekend before, yes, but I had never had problems writing in high school. Writing was, for me, a pleasure and a privilege, always accompanied by high praise from my teachers and often in front of the class. I could write easily and in minutes what others never could even if they’d struggled for days. I wanted it to stay a pleasure. I wanted to write without the burden of uncertainty and fear on my shoulders.

And now things were nightmaric. All I wanted to do was cry and try to sleep. Instead, I wrote about dreams that could never happen as I worked the night into oblivion.

The first paper finished barely on time. The second was harder, as I had no ready-made plan for it. I had no mental power left to spare, but I came up with a topic. Somehow. I found quotes . . . somehow. I wrote . . . somehow.

And then I walked into the end of class, with my paper hot from the printing. I smiled at the professor, proud to have accomplished something despite the madness of my world. I had done it. No sleep, no tears, no heart left to call my own . . . but at least I could still write. He glared back and, taking his pen, scrawled those four unforgettable red words across my clean white sheet.

Late. End of Class.

My smile vanished, but I didn’t cry. I nodded polite acceptance of his judgment, and left without a word.

And that was my first semester.

For me, it meant a major restructuring of my world. I went home for Christmas feeling like a total failure and scared to death of the dark. Each night of Christmas break, I turned off the lights and just lay in bed, staring at the ceiling, letting the fear wash over me as the tension built and built. Then, I’d reach up, hit the closet light switch, and roll over to go to sleep. Then came the joyful day when I realized I could see enough by the green light of the digital alarm clock that I didn’t have to turn on the closet light. The worst of the fear had finally been broken.

Everyone at home knew something had gone wrong, but not what it was. I told my parents, but acted distant and quiet around anyone else. People told me they were praying for me.

For my own part, I spent my days thinking things through. Did I really want to go back to PHC? I had two years and all my savings sunk into that college and it’s not like I could expect all of my credits to transfer. If I went back to school somewhere else, I would be starting all over again. But maybe that would be worthwhile, just to get away from Ryan.

There are bad apples at every school, I thought. At least at PHC I know who it is. Not, perhaps, the most cheering sort of progress one could make, but still progress of a kind.

If I leave PHC, where will I go? It had taken me two years to scrape together enough hope and will power to apply to PHC. I had no guarantee the next time would be quicker and plenty of reason to believe that it wouldn’t. I have always hated giving up and I believed that the shock of quitting would probably kill me. I felt like a failure right now; but if I got that diploma, wouldn’t I be proving that I wasn’t a failure at all?

It never occurred to me to wonder if other administrations did things differently than PHC’s had. I guess I just assumed that was industry standard. Not the best assumption perhaps, but it did give me a way to distance myself from the event.

It happened, it was done, I’ll move on.

Part Three >

The Legend of the Bitter Alum: Hope’s Story, Part One

Homeschoolers U

HA note: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Hope” is a pseudonym specifically chosen by the author. All other names herein have been changed as well.

Part One

The story of my admission into PHC is an odd one, starting from the first moment I heard of the college and culminating in interviews between the admission counselor and both of my parents. I’m convinced the admissions counselor only let me in because it was easier to do that than it was to answer my dad’s questions.

It was my mom who wanted me to go to PHC. When she first made the suggestion, in my junior year of high school, I told her, as diplomatically as possible, that it was a perfectly horrid idea. A college full of would-be politicians out to change the world sounded like something straight out of Dante. Why would anyone ever volunteer as a tribute (I mean, student) for a school filled with ego-maniacs and egg-heads? I was pretty sure the students were all going to be arrogant jerks, not at all worth knowing.

Unfortunately, I soon learned that one didn’t have to be a would-be politician-in-training to be an arrogant jerk.

I don’t even know how to explain what happened that next year, because it was so unexpected and so devastating. Nobody ever saw it coming.

“Joseph” was such a close friend to me that I called him my brother and people believed me, even though we didn’t look anything alike. His mother, Jackie, was a second mother to me. She was a bit… intense and somewhat tempermental, but I never thought much of it. I mostly just laughed off her oddities and moved on with my life. She had this thing where she loved to mock people who had y-chromosomes. Joseph was her favorite target.

Anyway, Joseph started dating this girl, Emily Schmidt, and, when things started getting serious, Jackie started getting even more demeaning and bullying than was normal for her. She didn’t like the girl or the girl’s family because they weren’t about to let Jackie dominate them the way she dominated Joseph. Or at least, that’s what I heard after the fact. I hadn’t been paying attention.

Then came the point Joseph had enough. He decided he was moving out of the house that very day and he called his future in-laws over to help him. Jackie flipped out. She called the police and my parents and then, when neither group proved able to stop things, she called everybody else. Everyone in the county heard all about how Joseph had been duped and stolen away from her by a sinister cult family who were out to steal brides and grooms for all their freaky cult kids from the good homeschool families of our tight-knit community. The Schmidts had been well-respected and liked up until that point and I’d enjoyed their company as often as I had opportunity. But now, friendship and openness was replaced with suspicion and confusion.

After ten years of reflection, I can be flippant and matter-of-fact when telling the story, but, at the time, I fell into a depression so dark that I had no idea I was even sad. I thought I was merely bored as I flopped on my bed and imagined how it would be if I fell asleep and never woke up. I looked at the vitamins on my shelf and wondered if it was possible to overdose on them and whether it would be obvious and whether it would be like falling asleep. My SAT results came back and they were good (even though I’d refused to study for it). A torrent of college flyers followed in their wake, but I didn’t care. They bored me to pieces. I threw most of them away without looking at them.

The only thing I was good at, the only thing I enjoyed, was writing. But even at that, there was nothing to write about except for school. I had no life apart from my homeschool group and simply couldn’t think of the future enough to contrive a plan.

The summer after high school graduation, I reconnected with Dave, a childhood friend I hadn’t seen since his family moved away ten years earlier. I remembered him as the happy-go-lucky person with whom I’d reconnected, but his other friends and his senior picture testified to a very recent bout of deep depression. Like myself, he was a homeschooler, but, by this point, he’d spent a year at PHC. To hear him tell it, PHC was all that was good and worthwhile in the world – hard work, lots of study, prank wars, and good friends.

Between PHC and self-reflection, there was no better cure for depression. For me, it was worth a shot.

There was no way I could attempt to live away from home at that time, but, fortunately, PHC had a distance learning program and the enrollment process was less arduous than the one for on-campus enrollment. I spent two years in the program, recovering my good spirits as I built up my friendships. Finally beginning to feel optimistic again, I tackled the “real” application, which included numerous essays, including one on cultural engagement.

I still thought “lead the nation and shape the culture” was a silly, egotistical motto. There was no way I had any intention of running for office. And while I could probably have gotten in by writing about how being a wife and mother is “shaping the culture,” the thought never occurred to me. Instead, I wrote about the need for respect in public dialogue and how we needed to try to understand people even when we think they sound ridiculous. I used the examples of Christians who hate Harry Potter and atheists who search for extraterrestrials because I figured that way I couldn’t accidentally insult the unknown reader. I sent it in, feeling that this at least was an important issue and one that I did care about passionately, even if it wasn’t one of the big issues like pro-life.

I managed to score an interview, but the admissions counselor had a hard time believing I was ready for higher academics. She asked to talk to one of my parents, so I had my mom call. My mom felt that she did a horrible job of representing me, so she had my dad call. According to my dad, the conversation went something like this:

Counselor: do you feel that your daughter is ready for the challenge of higher academics?

Dad: what criteria are you using to judge that?

Counselor: what do you mean?

Dad: if you’re asking that question, you must have some criteria in mind, some standard that makes you think my daughter isn’t ready. If I’m going to answer your question, I have to know what you mean by asking it.

I think my dad was actually disappointed that her only answer to the question was to accept my application.

In hindsight, my timing was hilarious. I sent in an essay about the need for respectful dialogue during what would later be called “the Great Schism.” This was the horrific breakdown in communications and tempers that led to a high turn-over among the professors, the replacing of the school president and most of the deans, and a mass exodus of students. The aftershocks were felt for years – in fact, I am convinced that they are still being felt in ways that are not always obvious.

Although it is often called the Great Schism, I prefer the term “the Tragic Meltdown,” which I picked up from one of the professors who left the next year. As a nuclear physicist’s daughter, I find the comparison to Chernobyl and Three Mile Island to be satisfyingly exact.

Of course, I didn’t know about any of that at the time of my application. The campus-quake didn’t hit the online forums of the Distance Learning community until late in the semester. I read everything I could find about it. There were two items in particular; I think it was the Faith and Reason lecture by one of the professors, and an article for the Herald (the school newspaper) by someone from the Administration.

If I was hoping those would explain the commotion, I was disappointed. From a conflict standpoint, these made zero sense.

The lecture was completely orthodox Christianity. The article was completely orthodox Christianity. The school is supposed to be a completely orthodox Christian institution, so how in the world two orthodox Christians even managed to be in conflict on a point of complete orthodoxy was a mystery to me.

The only cause of conflict that I could scrape out between them was that the article interpreted the lecture in what I considered to be one of the most unlikely ways possible. The lecturer said that the Bible isn’t a how-to manual for building a house. The writer of the article said that the Bible isn’t a how-to manual, but it does require that a house-builder build his houses in an ethical and moral fashion. Perhaps if I’d been the lecturer, I’d have been insulted that something so basic wasn’t inferred from the text.

Maybe the whole problem was just a stupid insult war?

Dave told me to be very careful and to seek to be informed. He liked the professors and distrusted the official line. Said this was the worst time to start at PHC. I agreed, but I wasn’t going to delay any longer. Anyway, it couldn’t really affect me, could it?

It probably wouldn’t have either, but my first semester didn’t go as planned.

Part Two >

Homeschoolers U: A Call for Stories about PHC

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By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator

It’s been called “God’s Harvard” by some, “Homeschool Harvard” by others. Still others find those nicknames either laughable, insulting, or downright silly.

Whatever you want to call it, Patrick Henry College is arguably the finishing touch to the culture wars waged by many movers and shakers within the Christian Homeschooling Movement. However, with the recent allegations of the administration’s mishandling of sexual assault cases and an ongoing definitional debate about whether or not the college supports “Patriarchy,” it is obvious that even those who have attended the college have widely different perspectives about their alma mater and its impact.

For our next open series, Homeschoolers Anonymous is inviting current and former students of Patrick Henry College to speak for themselves about their experiences and stories at their school. We are open to hearing about all of it: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Our one parameter is that you speak to your experience, rather than speaking in universal commentary about popular (mis?)conceptions about the school. Help others get a more nuanced understanding of the campus culture and ideology — whether that commentary be positive or negative.

* Deadline for “Homeschoolers U” submission: Friday, July 25, 2014. *

Please put “For Homeschoolers U” as the title of the email.

As always, you can contribute anonymously or publicly.

If you interested in participating in this, please email us at homeschoolersanonymous@gmail.com.

Patrick Henry College Releases Statement on Sexual Assault Cases

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By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator

On Monday, Kiera Feldman — a member of the Ochberg Society for Trauma Journalism  — published a story in the New Republic about how Patrick Henry College (PHC) has handled sexual assault cases on its campus. The story, entitled “Sexual Assault at Patrick Henry College, God’s Harvard”, has caused an uproar among homeschool alumni, PHC graduates, and others. The story got picked up by Salon and other news agencies.

Yesterday, PHC’s Office of Communications released a “Statement by Patrick Henry College to concerned alumni and students about article in The New Republic.” It was disseminated yesterday to alumni and today to PHC’s general student body (and was met with student applause).

You can view the statement in full as a PDF here. An excerpt follows:

Many of you may be aware of an article just published in The New Republic magazine (and picked up by several websites/blogs) concerning allegations of sexual assault now being made in connection with events that occurred off campus some years ago – especially about one situation more than seven years ago, and another about four years ago.

…Patrick Henry College is absolutely committed to the protection and care of our students, male and female equally…

…The fact is that the information provided by the key individuals at the time differs from the allegations now related in the New Republic article. The College acted on the basis of the information made available at the time. Moreover, at no time did anyone suggest to any female student that she was somehow responsible, or more at fault for the situation…

…Where possible, we provided the reporter and the magazine with clarification of some of these allegations contained in her article, but she either chose to disregard the information or simply lumped the information into a single paragraph toward the article’s end…

…Any fair observer would conclude that a review of the entire evidence demonstrates that PHC earnestly sought to do the right thing in each instance, did not attempt to cover-up any sexual crimes, and did not seek to blame women for the improper behavior of male students…

…We are glad that the number of such situations involving PHC students is far below American campus averages…

(PHC Professor of Biblical Studies Darrel Cox also wrote his own statement, arguing that the New Republic piece was “a very angry (and honestly, shoddy) attempt at a hit-piece” and that the actual victim in all of this is Sandra Corbitt, PHC’s Dean of Student Affairs.)

Rachel Leon, who was cited in the New Republic article, gave the following response to PHC’s statement:

As Sarah’s friend and former roommate, it’s been deeply distressing to watch some of the direct and indirect attacks on her testimony and character from both the Patrick Henry College administration and the wider PHC community. Sarah is a humble, truthful, and brave friend who only came forward because she wanted to do something to help other victims of sexual assault at PHC. In the hellish days right after the assault, Sarah painstakingly drew up a detailed account of her assault to turn in to Dean Corbitt. This is the same account she turned in to the journalist who wrote the New Republic article. Sarah honestly believed that the administration would handle her case appropriately, and we both felt a sense of betrayal when the administration instead chose to discipline both her and her attacker as though her sexual assault had actually been a consensual encounter. Her account of the assault and her attacker’s account of the assault really only differed on one point: her attacker said it had all been consensual. That Corbitt chose to discipline her by having her read materials about purity shows that Corbitt believed Sarah’s attacker’s version of events from the start. This gives the lie to any notion that the college handled this investigation in a fair and impartial manner. I still vividly remember sitting in Corbitt’s office holding Sarah’s hand as she violently trembled while explaining the details of her assault and responding to Corbitt’s harsh cross-examination. I still vividly remember the way she sometimes screamed at night because of her nightmares. I still vividly remember walking her across campus after dark because she was afraid to walk alone. As I reflect upon some of the worst memories I have of my time at PHC, I challenge the PHC community to step up to the plate as a Christian community and demand greater support for victims and accountability for all who would choose to harm them.

Further reading:

** Note Sessions’s comment, made in September of 2013, months before the New Republic piece:

Girls have been raped while attending Patrick Henry College: girls who I sat next to in class, by men who I sat next to in class. Other women I know were at different times mercilessly harassed, stalked and frightened—all on the campus of Patrick Henry College. Often it was the “nice boys” no one in a million years would imagine could do something like that until they saw it with their own eyes.