Over the years, SFA has had their share of guests visiting the campus to spread their message. Recently, the guests have been frequently returning. On Jan. 23 and 24, a group called The Campus Ministry USA was stationed outside of the Baker Pattillo Student Center preaching to a large group of students.
Things escalated to the point Dr. Adam Peck, dean of student affairs, released a statement regarding the group and its interactions with passing students. The group held signs that read, “Ask me why you deserve Hell” and other extreme verbiage. It’s every student’s right to voice their concerns about the group; however, we as SFA students need to keep in mind that even though it feels good to fight back against ignorance, how we act carries outside the school and makes others view us in a way we may not want.
Granted, the way some of the members of the ministry talked to the students was not very respectful. And the way they spread their message could have been done differently, like the people who give out the tiny bibles and sit quietly. But after all the yelling and talking with Campus Ministries USA, at the end of the day, they will still feel like they did something. And they do, according to the interview between the Pine Log editor-in- chief and Jed Smock, a representative from the group.
“We’ve provoked a lot of discussion,” Smock said. “I want to get them [students] to think, ‘Where am I going to spend eternity? What is the meaning of life? What’s the purpose of life?’”
Even when everyone did their best to try and get the members to stop their hate and to spread love instead, they still know their word impacted everyone whether it was good or bad. So, if that doesn’t work, what other options are there? Maybe by applying the SFA way we can be an example for what we expect from those who try and challenge our ideas and morals.
As stated in the SFA Way, “We expect the best from ourselves and from each other, and we hold each other accountable when we fail to maintain these standards.”
Taking this and the five root principles (Respect, Caring, Responsibility, Unity and Integrity), we, as students, should express these principles to those who visit the campus and aren’t treating us with that same mindset. By ignoring those people and following the SFA Way, this can get them to realize their words might not be impacting anyone at all. It can also help newer students to see how to deal with guests like the ministry members in future semesters so they don’t feel like all their actions against the visitors were a waste of time.
If we continue to act this way when groups such as The Campus Ministry USA come to visit and start yelling at students who are just trying to get to their next destination, they might start to back down and realize their method is not going to work. That way when they talk about their visit to our campus it will not be a statement saying we are rude and do not want to listen to other’s opinions, it will be a statement saying the trip was unsuccessful. When others outside of the campus see this, they will know we choose to listen to those who not only respect us as young adults but who also will not try and force us to change our minds.