This message was posted in several Internet Newsgroups
in the summer
of 1996. This is the second post of the series of three.
The "Cost" of a Christian
Southwest Baptist University officials (including former Missouri
Secretary-of-State, former SBU Trustee and current SBU
President, Roy Blunt, who is the Republican candidate for
Congress of the Missouri 7th District) and faculty have offered
some unique philosophies and perspectives on the definition
of "Christian education," the responsibilities of professors, and
the cost of this "education."
Marie Ann O'Hara, a student at Southwest Baptist University in
Bolivar, Missouri, was poisoned by a daytime fan spray mist
misapplication of pesticides which resulted in a severe injuries,
including chemical pneumonia and respiratory burns. Though
fully informed of this incident, SBU officials permitted the daytime
applications to continue, and Marie was exposed again four
months later on her first day back at classes. These exposures
resulted in her complete disability. (For details, see the thread,
"An Education to Die For...")
Contrary to the declaration of SBU officials that the pesticides
were "non-toxic" and harmless, it was discovered in depositions
that the pesticides were, in fact, organophosphate "peoplecides"
derived from Sarin nerve gas, whose odorless, colorless
degration product, hydrogen cyanide, was used to execute
concentration camp victims and (until it was recently declared
unconstitutionally cruel) was utilized to execute death row
More than 30 pesticides, including endocrine-disrupting
organochlorines (related to DDT), organophosphates,
pyrethroids, and carbamates, were admittedly used monthly
since 1962 to fumigate while students were in the buildings.
Carcinogenic and neurotoxic solvents, such as aromatic
petroleum distillates and xylene, were routinely laced with
these pesticides as propellant agents.
When Marie questioned officials, including Nurse Nancy
Hodges, about the pesticides, the University officials not
only initially withheld the name of the exterminators, but
scoffed at her request for information, contending that the
pesticides were "non-toxic."
Nurse Hodges claimed that the bleeding lungs, chemical
pneumonia, and respiratory burns (confirmed by a physician)
were merely the "flu," and a "slight irritation of the lungs,"
and that, because this was obviously a ploy to get out of
class, Marie should not be excused from classes and
must be penalized for missing classwork, even though
she had not exceeded the allowed number of absences.
The faculty were enlisted to join in the intimidation and
openly disregarded her doctor's recommendations. When
she returned to make arrangements for completing her
classes, her professor (and advisor) yanked her by the arm
and, in the front of witnesses, coerced her into his office,
and warned her that she had better stop "causing trouble"
by insisting that the "non-toxic" pesticide had injured her.
He explained that, as a Christian student, she had no right
to "bitch" about the situation unless she had been "crucified."
SBU officials, he added, had already determined that the
university would simply circulate false accusations and
"innuendoes" against her character and ruin her career if
she persisted. In fact, he bragged, the administration
and faculty had already begun to do so within hours of
The university administration was, as he acknowledged,
concerned about liability because they had ignored other
complaints, including his previous complaint (some time
before Marie had been acutely injured) that "those a-h*s
with the pesticides" had killed $200 worth of HIS tropical fish.
Regardless, he explained, it was his intention to fail her if
she did not immediately return to class, make up an exam,
and desist in her questions about the pesticides. Further,
he urged her to finish whatever classes she could and
"get the h* out" of SBU.
Her Painting instructor displayed the same antagonistic
attitude when Marie presented the doctor's confirmation
of the lingering effects of the chemical burns caused by the
pesticides to her and asked that she be allowed to paint
in a better-ventilated area or at a time when fewer students
(and less fumes) were present.
Even though this same instructor had recently cautioned
the Painting class against the hazards of paint fumes in the
unventilated Art Building and encouraged students to leave
the room if they became dizzy, nauseated, or overcome
by the paint fumes, she mocked her request and announced
that Nurse Hodges had established that the pesticides were
"non-toxic" and that, for that reason, Marie must paint in the
unventilated room or receive a failing grade.
Still suffering from a debilitating cough, Marie was pressured
into taking a grade of "Incomplete." When she was unable
to resume painting due to the severity of the respiratory
damage, the instructor failed her in the class. [Shortly
thereafter, portions of the Art Department were condemned
and completely demolished. The instructor was promoted,
given a raise, and reassigned to an unrelated field].
Similarly, her Anatomy instructor, Dr. S, tossed aside
a physician's note, laughed at Marie's inquiry about the
possible detrimental effects that the unventilated lab room
(which reeked of unrefrigerated, formaldehyde-laden
dissection animals) might have on her still-healing lungs,
and later demanded that Marie immediately attend a
make-up exam or be failed in the class -- even if she
were (as the doctor's note indicated) having tremors,
seizures, and other neurological symptoms.
Within several minutes of beginning the exam, the tremors
and breathing difficulty became so serious that Marie could
no longer control the pencil. Undaunted, Dr. S then insisted
that a friend write out the answers for Marie. As it was
apparent that Marie was not fully conscious and was not
able to see the test, nor speak well enough to be understood,
the friend declined to participate.
Dr. S assured those present that the pesticides had not
injured Marie and that she just had "problems with the test."
As the seizures worsened, Marie was compelled to leave
and suffered a severe seizure which dislocated her shoulder.
Dr. S promptly flunked her on the test, and, subsequently, in
[Dr. S was promoted to associate Dean of the College
of Mathematics and Sciences and head of the PHYSICAL
THERAPY Program. In May 1994, the ENTIRE Physical
Therapy faculty resigned in protest and, by November, SBU
had lost its Physical Therapy accreditation. In Fall 1995,
Dr. S, who had served on the committee which elected
Roy Blunt as the new SBU President, was promoted to
In the same manner, Marie's computer professor (after
having discussed her injuries with his neighbor, Dr. S)
ignored the doctor's written cautions about the disturbing
increase in neurological symptoms and quipped that he,
too, had some of those "tongue-biting seizures" himself.
He also required that Marie immediately take a make-up
exam or he would fail her.
Having lost a substantial portion of the use of her hands, and
suffering from respiratory, immunological, and neurological
dysfunction (still partially undiagnosed due to SBU's refusal
to provide any antidote or toxicology information), Marie
was unable to comply. Her several requests for necessary
accommodations were ridiculed and denied. Even though
she had one of the highest grades in the class before she
was injured, the professor failed her.
When Marie wrote one of her professors (now retired)
asking for an extension of time in order to complete her
"Independent Readings" class, he denied her request,
concluding that the complete debilitation caused by the
chemical pneumonia and neurological symptoms was
not a sufficient reason to warrant an extension. Marie
withdrew from the class in order to avoid the threat of
another failing grade.
Though Marie appealed to the Vice President of Academic
Affairs, Dr. Bill Little, for assistance, he shrugged off her
concerns with, "Perhaps our facilities are not adequate
enough for you."
Evidently, SBU administrators are in absolute agreement
with the actions of these individuals as all of them (including
the pesticide applicators) continued to be employed at
SBU, and, as far as is known, no disciplinary action was
ever taken concerning these and dozens of other incidents.
Marie, however, was flunked in these classes and received
Currently, SBU attorneys, the law firm of (Kerry) Douglas,
(Gary) Lynch, (Verna) Haun (previous Trustee of the
Southern Baptist Convention), and (Jay) Kirksey, have
threatened to sue Marie if she does not pay the entirety
of the National Direct Student Loan (NDSL) of over
$5,000 for the semester in which she was disabled.
Of course, there is an alternative: a clause in the NDSL
contract allows the cancellation of the NDSL debt in the
event that the student is permanently disabled or dies.
Therefore, Marie must simply provide the doctor's
confirmation of her complete disability (which the SBU
attorneys have already seen as a result of the injury
litigation) and the government (translation: the taxpayers)
will gladly foot the bill for Marie's "education."
Consequently, the taxpayers would be forced to pay for
classes which Marie was never able to attend. Is SBU
asking this student to participate in what amounts to fraud
and sheer thievery on the part of SBU?
Should a Christian university receive taxpayers' funds for
having poisoned, disabled, intimidated, and, finally, flunked
a student? Should the administration of a Christian university
permit or encourage this kind of "education" and then
demand payment from taxpayers?
SBU attorneys, Trustees, and administrators (including
former SBU Trustee and current SBU President, Roy Blunt,
who is the Republican Congressional candidate for the
Missouri 7th District) apparently have no qualms about
this and shamelessly justify their actions; this, in their
opinions, is perfectly acceptable and ethical behavior.
But... is this truly a demonstration of "excellence in higher
education," and the Christian ideals of "America's
premiere Baptist university?"
For updates and additional details, see the thread,
[3/3 SBU: You Think You Would Be Safe at a Christian University]
Additional information in the previous post on this thread.
[1/3 An Education To Die For ...]
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