Christendom says it’s changed. Can we believe them?

Christendom says it’s changed. Can we believe them?
On Wednesday, after we published two essays detailing Christendom College’s inadequate response to sexual assault by and on its students, the college released a statement. Out of professional courtesy, we referred to the statement as an “apology.”
The statement, which rape survivors from Christendom referred to as a “non-apology” and a “slap in the face,” briefly offers that the school  “would like to apologize to any of those in our community who feel they were not properly responded to concerning an alleged sexual harassment and assault.”
It then asserts that the school has made significant changes in policy, so as to prevent sexual assault and to be more responsive if it occurs.
The statement opens by claiming that our two essays contained “misleading information and serious inaccuracies,” but it did not specify what those might be.

We published that statement in full on Wednesday, with the intention of responding to it on Thursday.
But on Thursday evening, a newspaper local to Christendom published an article titled “Christendom responds to claims it brushed off rape charges.”  It makes the same reference to “misinformation and inaccuracies” that the school’s statement does, also without specifying what that misinformation or inaccuracies are.

Then it quotes Executive Vice President Ferguson saying:
“We offered to speak to the author and they declined because they said they wanted to release the information before we could have a meeting,” Ferguson said. “Extremely odd. So they didn’t have any desire to get to the truth of the article.”
This is false. This is the opposite of what we tried to accomplish.
We wanted very much to get President O’Donnell’s comment on our essays before they went to press. On Friday, Damien called the school four times and they called us twice. Damien left a message for Timothy O’Donnell. That call was returned by Nial O’Donnell, who said he would try to get Damien an interview with Dr. O’Donnell. Damien told him we were planning to publish over the weekend.
Nial O’Donnell then called back and explained Timothy O’Donnell would not be able to call back until Tuesday. Hoping to encourage him to call back sooner, Damien told Nial O’Donnell we did not plan to wait.
Nial O’Donnell then said he would try and get Timothy O’Donnell to call before Tuesday. He did not specify a time of day.
So we waited until Tuesday. When the call did not come, we published the essays.

On Friday, Amanda Graf called Damien and confirmed that Christendom did not have a sexual assault policy in the student handbook until 2013. Graf is Director of Student Affairs. On Friday, Damien also called former dean Jesse Dorman, who did not return the call; and he attempted to reach Dr. Marschner, formerly of Christendom.
In summary: We held the piece longer than we wanted to, calling repeatedly, hoping to get a statement from O’Donnell. The school said O’Donnell would try to call before Tuesday. He did not. We published on Tuesday. Ferguson’s account of the exchange, that the school offered to talk and we refused, is made up of whole cloth.
This message was shared with alumni:

This account is also false. At no point did anyone from the school tell Damien that O’Donnell would be available to speak between 2-4 PM on Tuesday. They told Damien O’Donnell would call us “before Tuesday.” We “moved ahead without talking to him” because, when Tuesday arrived and he had not called, we assumed he did not intend to call and there was no longer any reason to wait.
Ferguson also said in the North Virginia Daily story, “I cannot comment legally [about alleged sexual assault], due to confidentiality laws around sexual harassment and Title IX specifically because I’m bound to keep that information confidential.”

However, as we reported in our original piece, and as Ferguson himself says later in the NV Daily article, Christendom does not receive federal funding, and so is not subject to Title IX regulations, including anything to do with confidentiality or with collecting or reporting data on sexual assault or harassment.

The article says, “Ferguson said he was not aware of any sexual harassment or assault claims made by a student at the college in his five years at Christendom. However, Ferguson said college officials have conducted interviews with students about potential infractions.”
So let’s think about this, based on the way the school has responded to this story so far.
What would happen if a hypothetical student contacted the office today to report a rape?  Would Ferguson leave the calls unanswered, but then report to the world, “We offered to speak to the victim, but she declined”?
What would happen if a prospective parent asked about current rates of sexual assault by Christendom students? Would Ferguson claim that he cannot say, because of confidentiality laws he’s not actually bound by?
The school says that is has changed. Many sources close to the school affirm that Amanda Graf is very dedicated to her job and wants Christendom to change its ways.
But the administration that saw no need to institute a formal sexual abuse policy for decades, despite many stories of sexual assault like the ones we detailed in our essays? That administration is still there.
And they’re still not returning our calls. (Yes, we’ve continued to call, including on Thursday night.)
If you’re a current Christendom student, do you trust that the school has changed?
If the school has not changed, and sexual assault continues to be minimized by the administration, do you trust the school to be transparent about that?
We urge any past or current student or parent of students to contact us with information about student life on campus right now.  We want the truth. This has always been our goal. We are the Catholic parents of eight daughters. We want to know what life is like on the Catholic colleges we’re considering.
Does life at Christendom reflect the “respect and honor for women” that President O’Donnell claims it now does?  Our contact information is or
And once again, for the sixth time, we extend an invitation to Timothy O’Donnell to return our numerous phone calls. We are eager to speak about student safety.
Image: detail of photo By AgnosticPreachersKid (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
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162 thoughts on “Christendom says it’s changed. Can we believe them?”

  1. One of the things I notice from some commenters (either side) is you have let your identity be something other than Christ. The Fishers have been able to get the administration to do the right thing. Maybe it was messy. But they cared enough to risk their image again. In this day and age this kind of support program is necessary at any college. The devil wants you to be naïve. He wants you out in the world with no idea how to navigate the stormy waters. He wants you to long for the idyllic places so that you can’t find Christ in the storms. If anyone thinks that the Fishers are doing this only for scandal and money is contributing to disunity in our Church. Our Church is big and going to Christendom (for many it is obvious it is a good thing!) is not the only place Christ is at work. I only hope that your minds are not formed to be so constrictive that you can never help the one who may be injured, that you won’t help the suffering because they deserve it, that to extend a hand in unity might mean you call a man brother even though you can’t understand his role in the Body of Christ. Not all fruit is of supernatural origin. Not all secular colleges are void of Christ.


    College Executive Vice President Offers to Meet with Victims

    Following recent alumni accounts of administrative mishandling of sexual assault reporting at Christendom College, the administration has ordered a thorough review of their policies and resources for cases of sexual assault and harassment. The College has issued an official apology to the victims and their families, and has reaffirmed its commitment to ensure the people from whom its students are seeking assistance are equipped with training, resources, and the capacity to respond to a victim’s needs with compassion, knowledge, and the ability to help.

    “We have failed some of our students,” said Dr. Timothy O’Donnell, Christendom College’s president. “I am grateful to each woman who has come forward with her story. We need to hear you and your experience. Disclosing abuse and its aftermath is painful and difficult, and it takes a tremendous amount of courage. To those students who have been harmed, I am deeply sorry. We will do better.”

    Ken Ferguson, executive vice president of Christendom College, has offered to meet personally with each and every victim in the presence of a certified trauma counselor. Anyone who wishes to meet is welcome to bring her own support personnel as well.

    “We invite these victims to come forward and be heard,” said Ferguson. “We value their insight on concrete ways we can make this campus as safe as possible for women. And we ask, if possible, for their forgiveness. I want to extend my gratitude to Mr. and Mrs. Fisher for giving these women a platform to share their voices with us.”

    Additionally, the College has hired experts to review campus compliance with best practices in sexual assault and harassment. Christendom revised its protocols in recent years and is constantly reviewing these protocols to ensure they are effective when a student reports sexual assault or harassment.

    “Since I arrived four years ago, I have thrown myself into improving campus life for the student body,” said Ferguson. “We recently established a new wellness initiative so that any student who needs these services has ready access to them. We’re expanding that initiative to include trauma counseling and support for Christendom students and alumni who have suffered sexual assault.”

    Those seeking to meet are invited to reach out to Ken Ferguson at (540-636-2900) or by email at

  3. Just so all you people know. Simcha is getting money every time you visit this blog. She has ramped up her ads since the first post. I don’t blame her if she is having the traffic that she has been getting.
    You are actually supporting her by replying and coming back to the blog. If you want to say something, say it on her twitter, Facebook, or email her.
    From a fellow WordPress blogger…

    1. This is the kind of ad hominem attack I’m talking about. Don’t you realize a comment like this detracts only from you? So, in the name of “hit her where it hurts” you’ll forgo dialogue? She has clearly hit a nerve with you people and you are having a massive tantrum.

      1. “twitter, Facebook, or email”
        That’s not “forgoing dialogue, just removing the financial benefit to the blog’s authors.

  4. I am a 1996 graduate of a small, conservative, Catholic college, which had a similar, some would say, even more stringent dress code, modest/chastity teaching, PDA/dating policy than Christendom. I lived it for 4 years and WOW, I can say that these comments from female students and alumni sure are taking me on a trip down memory lane. I read each one and each is basically a canned, reworded version of the comment before and that concerns me. They say the SAME thing, over and over and interestingly, we have not heard from male students about what and how they are taught when it comes to human sexuality and dignity of the human person. The female willingness to flood this combox with such vibrant defense of the College worries me. I understand loving your school and alma mater. But there was and could still be a problem with the administration’s handling of dangerous situations. God forbid any of you women finds yourself a victim ( because, as you all say, no school is perfect), don’t you WANT there to be an administration who hears you, respects you and responds to you? The Fishers have stated their intent was to shed light on a bad situation made worse by little to no response from the school administration. Institutions, especially ones who espouse en loco parentis MUST be held accountable for bunk policies. Any improvement to Christendom’s sexual harassment policy can only benefit current and future students. So I ask, why are you all losing your minds that your school has been called out? This is a good thing.

    1. Why is their testimony invalid? Why should their voices not be heard?

      I’m waiting for the appropriate retraction/apology from the Fishers, but I’m not holding my breath.

      1. Nope, I don’t hold that their experience is invalid. But, having been enrolled at a similar institution, my radar goes off when comment after comment sounds canned; they even use the same phrases. I’m simply offering another view of the situation. Schools who take en loco parentis seriously, as Christendom does, should be held more responsible for negligent policy. Because they take ON more responsibility with en loco parentis. As a parent of a daughter heading off to college in the fall, I absolutely would want to see a more timely, stronger response than we are seeing from Christendom.

        1. Bridget in CT said:

          “Nope, I don’t hold that their experience is invalid. But, having been enrolled at a similar institution, my radar goes off when comment after comment sounds canned; they even use the same phrases.”

          Yeah. There were a lot of repeated phrases and ideas (like being able to safely walk across campus at night). Also, a freshman who has been there 3 months doesn’t have a lot of experience there yet.

          It does sound like Christendom is better now, but I would like to know what their orientation teaches about consent and sexual assault.

          One of the posters said that there have only been 5 rapes at Christendom in the last 20 years–to which I would say, how do you know that?

          Also, I agree with Sheila. If a guy you know and trust offers to walk you home at night, that’s fine, but the fact that a guy is a fellow Christendom student doesn’t mean that he is a safe person. You are better off walking by yourself at night than with a guy you don’t know well or trust.

          1. WW said,

            “By my count from different comments on different articles, it is substantially more than 5.”

            Right. Although, if the person said “XYZ happened to my friend” that could actually be talking about the same event as “XYZ happened to me.” In fact, multiple stories of friends could be the same story.

            There’s also the question, does the 5 even purport to cover reports of sexual assaults off-campus involving Christendom students? It may only refer to on-campus, which is not adequate to give a picture of life as a Christendom student, especially as both the featured stories in the blog posts were off-campus.

        2. Bridget in CT,

          You are trying to have it both ways. You say you aren’t invalidating the Christendom students’ experiences but in the very next sentence say their responses are “canned.”

          So much for believing women. Apparently, only women who make negative claims are to be believed as being empowered enough to speak for themselves without having their words criticized and dismissed as not really reflective of reality.


          1. DCNM said:

            “You are trying to have it both ways. You say you aren’t invalidating the Christendom students’ experiences but in the very next sentence say their responses are “canned.”

            “So much for believing women. Apparently, only women who make negative claims are to be believed as being empowered enough to speak for themselves without having their words criticized and dismissed as not really reflective of reality.”

            Well, I believe Christendom women who say that they feel safe at night walking across campus.

            However, as an adult with a lot of experience on college campuses, I have to point out that public areas on college campuses are generally very safe. I have encountered a number of urban colleges where directly off campus has an ongoing crime problem (muggings, etc.), but the typical US campus is scrupulously policed.

            So there’s nothing special about being able to walk safely on campus at night.

          2. AmyP,

            You missed the point.

            The students weren’t only talking about being able to walk safely across campus (and Christendom’s campus isn’t highly policed because they don’t have the problems of a normal campus). The students were in large part talking about the relation between men and women on campus.

            The Fisher’s blog post claimed that “current students and alumni say the school has a “boys will be boys” attitude which allows the male students to harass and grab at the women.” Do you believe that men are walking around Christendom’s campus grabbing women’s arses and nobody cares? Seriously, AmyP. Do you? On what basis?

            This was a lie and a calumny, and the students posted about how men and women typically relate to each other. For their words to be dismissed while nobody questions the outlandish accusations the Fishers have made *without proof* is hypocrisy.

            Or don’t you think that women should be believed?

          3. DCNM said:

            ” Do you believe that men are walking around Christendom’s campus grabbing women’s arses and nobody cares? Seriously, AmyP. Do you? On what basis?”

            I don’t think anybody has suggested that possibility, except yourself. I was saying that safety in public spaces on campus at night is not an exceptional accomplishment for Christendom. I’ve spent nearly all of my adult life on or near campuses (not Christendom, though), and campus proper is almost always pretty safe including on city campuses. But, as I said, I know of a number of examples where there were a lot of incidents of crime directly off campus (not at Christendom). In fact, a few years ago, I actually mapped the incidents of a mugging spree while trying to figure out where to rent an apartment at our local college–none of the incidents were on campus, but were concentrated directly off-campus. But that was an area with a heavy population density, not a rural area. I’ve spent a lot of time on campuses at night (including going many times to an 11 PM Mass by myself in Washington DC because of scheduling needs), and I’ve never had any unsafe experiences dealing with strangers on my walks. Not that I didn’t walk very briskly and pay attention to my surroundings or that I don’t feel nervous about it, but no stranger has ever accosted me or harmed me on these late night walks. Also, many colleges have formal services where students can request a ride late in the evening.

            The vibe I get from a lot of recent Christendom posts is that Christendom women are primarily concerned about stranger danger, whereas crime against women usually comes from people we know. This suggests a big weakness in Christendom’s safety education program.

            Simcha, you seem pretty laissez faire about commenters, but I strongly suggest banning anybody who poisons discussion by putting words in other people’s mouths.

          4. Have you read through them? Same or very similar wording in almost every comment, which, is different than having the same experience. That is what comes off as suspect to me. Almost as if there was coaching done. In contrast, RD, class of 2020 was the only commenter who was able to convey his/her experience in a more personal tone, using language clearly different from the other canned phrases. Also, RD is the only student or alumni I have read who is able to see that dialogue about the hard things is good and can lead to growth, which only benefits the College. That kind of humility is sorely lacking in the majority of comboxes attached to this situation. Some of what has been said personally about the Fishers by Christendom supporters has done a great job of turning me off to the school. Well, that and the lack of credible response from the school. There’s that, too.

          5. AmyP,

            I specifically quoted the Fisher’s claim that “current students and alumni say the school has a “boys will be boys” attitude which allows the male students to harass and grab at the women.”

            When I asked why whether you really believe that women are walking around campus having their arses grabbed, you accused me of making things up. Just what do you think the “harrasment” and “grabbing” consists of, then. To claim that the Fisher’s didn’t suggest women are having their arses grabbed ignores the actual quotation of the Fisher’s accusation. If you think what I wrote didn’t reflect their accusation, would you, please, characterize what such an atmosphere looks like?

            Once again, this is the lie the Fisher’s told that many of the women you dismissed were addressing: “current students and alumni say the school has a “boys will be boys” attitude which allows the male students to harass and grab at the women.”

            My Holy Cross run alma mater, the University of Portland, has had several alleged rapes *in the campus dorms* and the administration has handled it far worse than Christendom (google Clara Ell and Amy Kerns). On-campus rape is actually pretty common at most Catholic universities, even small ones like my alma mater. You say that it is nothing for women to feel entirely safe on campus, but in doing so you are dismissive both of the experiences of women who are raped on campus at most universities and of the women at Christendom who say that they feel not just safe but *respected.* So far nobody has alleged that on-campus rape is even a thing at Christendom, and changes were made in the light of the Adele case to help ensure that people like her got help, but the Fishers accuse the university of currently having a “campus culture (which) actually facilitates sexual assault” and which condones the “harassment and grabbing” of women.

          6. DCNM said:

            “When I asked why whether you really believe that women are walking around campus having their arses grabbed, you accused me of making things up. Just what do you think the “harrasment” and “grabbing” consists of, then. To claim that the Fisher’s didn’t suggest women are having their arses grabbed ignores the actual quotation of the Fisher’s accusation. If you think what I wrote didn’t reflect their accusation, would you, please, characterize what such an atmosphere looks like?”

            I didn’t see that quote in Simcha’s posts but there’s been a lot of material to cover. Some context and the thread and the time would help, too.

            I’m primarily talking about the safety of public areas on campuses in the US. I’ve spent 24 of the last 26 years involved with several different colleges (as an undergrad, as a grad student, as a wife of a grad student, as the wife of a professor, as wife of faculty in residence, etc.) and I eat 6 meals a week on campus and not infrequently walk in the evening. The norm is very, very safe walking across campus in the evening or at night. I’m not going to give Christendom a cookie if their campus is safe to walk across in the evening. That’s normal.

        3. To Bridget in CT (per your comment below, which has no reply button on my screen):

          “And that speaks volumes to me about the fruit of the Christendom education. No thanks. And honestly, until I saw you all in action, I had a pretty good opinion of the school. What I’ve seen in these threads has completely turned me off.”

          Comboxes are notorious for bringing out the worst in people, especially on sensitive issues such as this one. Your own comment quoted above contains an inciteful barb. This all sheds light on what a bad move the Fishers made by posting these pieces on their blog on the first place. They’re veterans of the combox wars and should know better (not to mention the quality and tone of those pieces).

          You casually write off scores of positive comments about life at Christendom written by women currently enrolled, and give undue credence to comments written in haste in the heat of the moment, while talking about logical discourse. Hmmmm ….

    2. CTBridget,

      Funny how when a blogger lies about a school and students resoundingly come to the school’s defense they are accused of “losing their minds.”

      If you had actually read the school’s policies (which the Fishers *never* attempted to describe), you would realize that they have done a tremendous amount to address these sorts of situations. The Fishers calumniate the university, but they can only do so by being dishonest in their reporting and refusing to report accurately on the numerous things the university has done over the years to try and improve how they address these types of situations.

      1. I should have been clearer in that aspect of my comment- I absolutely see male and female losing their minds about all of this. Sorry about that omission. I mean, some of the things said about Mr and Mrs Fisher by people who’s opinion differs have been downright disgusting and actually uncharitable. I simply see these articles as bringing to light an inadequacy of the college’s response. Their to date response has been less than ideal. That’s on them, and they should be held to task for their lack of response.

        1. “The Fishers have stated their intent was to shed light on a bad situation made worse by little to no response from the school administration.”

          If they truly wanted to “shed light” it could’ve been done with balance, respect, and without fanfare. As it stands they chose a different path; any criticism against them is the result of that choice.

          BTW I can’t find that in a quote. They did say the “truth” has always been their goal … in the fourth installment, after they were called out for the vicious tone of the pieces; for holes in their research; for using a self-imposed blog deadline as an excuse for rushing the piece out; etc. etc. etc.

          They also claimed – again in the fourth installment – that with eight daughters they “want to know what life is like on the Catholic colleges we’re considering.” But anyone familiar with their blog knows they have no love of the type of conservative culture found at Christendom – so why would they even consider it for their kids, especially when they imply its culture contributes to the date rape problem? Why not find a school that shares their outlook? Hmmm.

          This sad conflict is a matter of the wrong people presuming to take on a problem that wasn’t theirs to take on, and doing it the exact wrong way. The Fishers, vehemently opposed the culture that’s part and parcel of an education at Christendom, were ill-qualified to tackle this situation, one that had already been addressed in a number of positive ways – and had they had the eyes to see they would have realized that, way before reaching the point of posting it. But their prejudices blinded them, and ended up negating their good intentions.

          Not saying Christendom doesn’t have its problems; not saying the Fishers are bad people. But the reputation of a very fine little Catholic school has been unnecessarily tarnished, and that’s unjust. The young women defending it should be commended, not belittled.

        2. Having read the articles/comments, I just want to note that if one is to bring up the “downright disgusting and actually uncharitable” comments of those whose opinions differ from the Fishers, I think it would be amiss to not also point out that the Fishers articles contained many lies about Christendom (I would list them except that I think you can simply read through some of the comments of people who have brought to light the falsehoods that were stated in the article). It seems that this (asserting lies and making unfounded claims in an article about a serious topic) would also fall under the category of “downright disgusting and actually uncharitable.” Of course, it does not make it right/acceptable in either case.

          1. The difference between accusations or, “lies and claims”, (to use your language) and ad hominem attacks is night and day. Absolutely hold a writer accountable for content, just as we should hold an institution accountable for bad policy. Never, ever detract their person. That’s what logical discourse entails. A vile comment made about a person b/c you don’t agree with their position only weakens an argument. Furthermore, its uncharitable and sinful. Some of the comments addressed toward commenters (as well as the Fishers) are shocking in their uncharity and condescension. And that speaks volumes to me about the fruit of the Christendom education. No thanks. And honestly, until I saw you all in action, I had a pretty good opinion of the school. What I’ve seen in these threads has completely turned me off.

        3. Sorry, I couldn’t reply for some reason below, so I am just replying here. I just wanted to be clear that I wasn’t excusing or supporting the lack of charity in the comments. I have been appalled just as you have. My point was just to bring to the surface the faults of both sides, not to excuse or dismiss them.

    3. Perhaps the reason why every comment says the same thing is because that one thing is the truth. I certainly agree with all of my classmates that the culture here at Christendom College is very respectful and supportive of women. I have never had an issue on campus, and I believe that the administration does a lot to help the women and men of Christendom to be safe and virtuous.
      I won’t list every time the school has been called together to witness to the dignity of each human person, because I would be here a long time. So I will spare the details of the wonderful talks given by Dr. O’Donnell at freshman orientation to both male and female students on their dignity, the presentation on mental health given by Student Life at orientation, the open house events at the counselling center, the women’s talks every week about living as a healthy Catholic woman, the “At the Well” events once a month that speak to issues surrounding relationships (not to mention the self-defense presentation by Front Royal police officers about awareness, which nearly every girl on campus attended), the availability of the RA’s to help students with anything, and Student Life’s constant communication with students to encourage them to come to them if anything ever were to happen. Nor will I mention all those pamphlets in the Student Life office about dating and personal safety tips, all the talks that the RA’s give the guys on being respectful and attentive to the female students (which the men all heed, as is obvious the moment one steps onto campus), or the men’s talks every month that encourage the men on campus to be true gentlemen. To prevent this comment from being too long, I will also gloss over the willingness of the professors, faculty, and staff to discuss this issue with students, their eagerness to hear of any concerns, and their desire to reform anything that may prevent Christendom from being the very best it can be.
      I for one am not “losing my mind” over my school being “called out.” Last I checked, we are all fallen human beings striving for a goal unattainable without grace and true charity. It is always preferable to promote change with grace and charity, which unfortunately, these articles lack miserably. However, God truly does bring good out of evil, and I am grateful for the conversation these blog posts have sparked. So many women, from Hollywood to Front Royal, are afraid of what they will lose if they speak out or fight back. So many people have neglected to educate themselves or their children in essential awareness and self-defense skills, something that cannot be blamed on institutions.
      I have confidence in my school, flawed as it is, that this call for reform will not go unheeded. Already, the response on campus for positive change has been overwhelming. At Christendom, we are told that women are the shapers of society. I truly believe that, and I know that the women of Christendom will continue to shape our campus culture so that all women may feel safe, valued, and respected here.
      What is more, I know that Dr. O’Donnell, the faculty, and the staff will be with us every step of the way, just as they always have been.

      1. I commend you, yours is the first response I have read to give a balanced view of the current climate and changes brought about at Christendom. And the first to see that this can bring good to the students. I was taking issue with the people who couldn’t see that aspect; The “How dare you question Christendom” crowd.

    4. If anyone were to say that many rape allegations sound remarkably alike — as in fact the two allegations in the article do — that person would be accused of victim shaming.

      But CTBridget expects two hundred or so current Cdom women to come up with 200 unique ways of saying “I feel respected and safe on campus. I feel the administration takes me seriously as a woman and I have not been subjected to sexual harassment or assault here.”

      1. But, Juana, the women commenting here have made it clear they ARE NOT VICTIMS, right? Everything’s hunky dory. So, they can’t be shamed. And yes, I do expect college level writers to be able to use their own words.

  5. I am a current female student of Christendom College, Class of 2020. At Christendom, our college culture respects and upholds the safety and dignity of every student, especially women. As students, this culture is part of our daily lives. It is a standard we all try to live by, both men and women. We girls watch out for each other, and if we notice that somebody looks like something’s wrong, whether they’re sick, or if they’re upset over a grade on a test, we care, and we do what we can to help them. The same goes for the guys. They respect our dignity as women, and they show it through their actions, going out of their way just to look out for us and make sure we’re safe. In the past, I lived across the street from campus, and many nights it would be dark when I returned to my dorm. But I never felt afraid walking back in the dark. Why? Because whether it was the girls or the guys, there was always someone who would walk back with me at night. Christendom’s students care about each other’s well-being, and they have respect for the dignity of women. The professors, faculty, and staff care about our well-being not only as students, but also as individuals. To them, we are not just numbers, we are people that they value, and if anything were to happen to us, they would be behind us one hundred per cent. The same goes for the RA’s. All of my RA’s over the years have been fantastic people who really care about their fellow students, and they are always there for us. If any kind of situation arises, from someone passing out, to a fire in the dorms, I know I can count on the RA’s. We Christendom students aren’t perfect, but we all strive to do our best. We know that we’re fallen human beings, and that we all have our faults, but we also know that with effort we can overcome these faults. At Christendom, the faculty, staff, professors, and students work together to promote a culture of respect for each and every student, a culture which upholds their safety and dignity as human beings. We do not have a “rape culture” here.

    1. I don’t want to scare you, but sometimes the guy who walks you back at night is the one you need to be afraid of. Guys will float threats of strangers out in the dark in order to get you to feel you need them to walk you home.

      And, from listening to the chatter of alumni and faculty that I’ve been seeing online … if that happened to you, a lot of people on campus would be saying, “How did she not know that you don’t walk home in the dark with a guy? This is really her own fault.”

        1. Ashamed of trying to help Christendom girls be safe? Ashamed of giving them a smidge of the education Student Life should have given them? Not a bit of it.

          When I was at Christendom, I too had the notion that I needed to be walked home by a guy to be safe, especially if it was off campus. I also was under the impression that any Christendom guy was acceptable for this role, because they were all upstanding gentlemen. It turns out this wasn’t true. There are guys who I thought were upstanding gentlemen who either had committed, or would later commit, violence against women. I would have accepted a walk home from one of them any day of the week.

          Yet there are Christendom staff currently assuring me that “no girl at Christendom is dumb enough to be alone with a guy in an isolated location, so no safety training needs to be given.” Right.

      1. sheila, I think you need to realize that in the real world, women are vulnerable. Please don’t walk down a dark alley, ALONE. I think it’s a pretty stupid idea

        1. Christendom 2020 said:

          “sheila, I think you need to realize that in the real world, women are vulnerable. Please don’t walk down a dark alley, ALONE. I think it’s a pretty stupid idea”

          This is one of those remarks that makes me (a woman nearly your moms’ age) worry for you girls.

          Being alone is not dangerous.

          Being with a person that you don’t know well or trust is dangerous.

          We as women need to be much more concerned about whether or not the people we are with are trustworthy, rather than being worried about the dark or about bogeymen. It just is a sad, hard truth that women are mostly hurt by people they know.

          “The CDC analyzed the murders of women in 18 states from 2003 to 2014, finding a total of 10,018 deaths. Of those, 55 percent were intimate partner violence-related, meaning they occurred at the hands of a former or current partner or the partner’s family or friends. In 93 percent of those cases, the culprit was a current or former romantic partner. The report also bucks the strangers-in-dark-alleys narrative common to televised crime dramas: Strangers perpetrated just 16 percent of all female homicides, fewer than acquaintances and just slightly more than parents.”


          You need better street smarts, and Christendom is letting you down if the administration isn’t helping you get them.

          1. Amen on that, and what about women walking with other women friends?? Find your friend group but don’t be naïve. Just because it is a Catholic school with a good reputation doesn’t mean let your guard down. Human nature is most studied by the devil and where do you think he will work the hardest??

  6. As a sophomore at Christendom College and in response to your request for “information about student life on campus,” I would like to emphasize the statements of my fellow classmates-that at Christendom, women are very much respected. I appreciate your request for the truth and hope you are satisfied with it. The truth is that Christendom College fosters a community where women are consistently treated with great respect. This uniquely deep respect for women is rooted in the example of faculty and staff, in particular Dr. O’Donnell and the Student Life team. As some of my classmates have already related, during orientation weekend, Dr. O’Donnell addressed the women of campus and told us that a lack of respect for women on campus would not be tolerated. He expressed personal concern for each and every one of us. The Student Life team (in particular Ms. Graf) have also communicated this heartfelt concern for the women on campus through their words and example. Again, I appreciate your desire for the truth and hope that you are satisfied with my response and the responses of so many other Christendom women.

  7. I have done a lot of reading the last few days, and there is so much I could say that my comment would be longer than any of the articles I read. Much of what I read, both in the articles and the responses on both sides, saddens me.

    I want to say, at the outset, that I appreciate what Christendom gave me in terms of my intellectual, spiritual and even perhaps social formation, although I did and do think they often treated us like children. Christendom was good for me in many ways, though my last year was, at best, unenjoyable for a variety of reasons. As such, I am neither a detractor of nor a cheerleader for Christendom. I have a lot of problems with the article by Mr. & Ms. Fisher, and I wish they would have waited until at least Wednesday to make their article public since, as they say, no definite time for getting back to them on Tuesday was given.

    The characterization of the town and other details do not square with what I knew even 20 years ago, and surely it hasn’t shrunk too much. If it has, there must be nothing left. The police did, however, have a bad reputation in those days. Moreover, though I thought SOME of the PDA rules were excessive and unnecessary, I fully support separate dorms, prohibiting undue signs of affection, and so forth. The dress code was as much about modesty as learning to dress professionally, and it was much more relaxed after class and on the weekends. I do not believe the school or the PDA rules lent themselves to rape any more than they led to young women getting pregnant with their boyfriends. It is also not the fault of imprudent behavior, as some have suggested in some posts and/or even accused the victims of basically being stupid or at fault. That is complete nonsense.

    Regarding the campus culture, I would say that most of the young men and women who came to Christendom were just earnest young men and women who wanted to become good and well-educated Christian men and women. To be sure, regardless of what some have said, some of us were indeed very naive, and there were some among us who took advantage of that. That, of course, is a problem anywhere and will be, I would guess, until the end of time. Human beings, even young ones, are rational creatures capable of making good or bad decisions, and some of those decisions are beyond bad.

    Returning to PDA rules, as a counter example, I worked at a small private college in California that has none of those PDA rules that we had, but the instances of both on and off campus rapes was fairly high. The college in question was not faulted for the rapes, as such, but for its response, or lack thereof, to the problem, whether or not the crimes occurred on campus.

    And that is precisely where I take issue with Christendom’s administration and its erstwhile apology. Sometimes,I feel like they themselves lived, and maybe do live, in a bubble. I don’t know. They did not, to me, seem to deal appropriately with accusations when I was there. I can think of at least two cases where that seemed to hold true. In a third case, someone who was harassing a young woman was asked to leave, but only because he was already problematic in a number of ways.

    Whatever the case, they had at least 15 years between one of those cases and the case of Adele Smith to come up with a policy that would help them formulate an appropriate response. Saying that your hands are tied because it happened off campus is disingenuous; lots of things that happened off campus were dealt with by the administration if and when they came to light. To come up with such a policy takes some thought both for the moral and legal well-being of all involved, but at this point it is not rocket science. Many colleges and universities have such policies, and Christendom could have piggy-backed off of them.

    At the very least, it seems to me that they should be able to help the accuser make a police report (many young people have no idea how to do that because they’ve never had to) and, perhaps, have a counselor or two in the rolodex who would be available to speak with someone in that situation. They could also place certain restrictions on the accused such that, if those restrictions/guidelines were not followed, he or she would be asked to leave the college – at least until the issue was cleared up by the appropriate authorities.

    I’m sorry to say that the administration’s response seems not much better than that of many bishops. At the end of the day, the buck stops with the president. I simply cannot understand all of it, given what we Christians profess to believe.

    Just my two … or 25 cents.

    1. All due respect, just one correction: in Adele’s case, it WAS the college that helped her go to the police. But she decided not to go that route, because she didn’t want to be revictimized by a court process.

      1. Fair enough.

        And though I failed to mention it, I do think the college is striving to make improvements in this area.

      2. “But she decided not to go that route, because she didn’t want to be revictimized by a court process.”

        Without commenting on the state of mind of Ms Smith or any other young woman, this is one reason why so many fail to report such incidences. Some find it extremely humiliating, while others are intimidated into silence by others who wish to keep the peace.

  8. I am a current sophomore at Christendom College. In the year and a half I have been at this school, I have never felt that Christendom encourages a rape culture; as a matter of fact, I’ve experienced the exact opposite.
    As many of the girls here have stated, we all feel safe walking around campus alone at night. I take walks alone fairly often in the middle of the night to think and be alone, and I have never once felt unsafe in any way.
    The several times I have gone out with a group of people into town or to hang out on campus in the woods several guys checked up on me regularly to ensure that I was safe and comfortable.
    Several of my guy friends have confirmed that when something happens with a girl that shouldn’t, be it inappropriate comments, or anything else, the guys themselves get together and discuss what needs to be done differently.
    This campus is imperfect, as is every campus, but it is significantly safer than most colleges. It does not promote a culture of rape, but rather (most of) the people here strive to live a life of virtue. This article is not an accurate representation of life on Christendom Campus.

  9. I am currently a junior at Christendom College, and I would just like to say that in all of my time at this college I have always felt incredible support as a woman on this campus. In my 5 completely semesters here I have always felt a strong sense of respect from my classmates, the faculty, and the staff. In my experience the community has always been truly concerned with my well-being as a woman. I would also like to say that, also in my experience, I think the men of this campus are exceptional. I have always felt that the men of Christendom have recognized my dignity as a woman and have habitually acted accordingly.

  10. I am currently a junior at Christendom College, and in no way believe that these accusations correctly represents the way I am treated as a woman at the school. I almost went to a giant secular school, but one of the reasons I didn’t: I didn’t feel safe in the environment. It did not have anything to protect women who want to remain chaste. No single-sex dorms, no simple modesty codes, etc. No additional clause in a handbook is going to stop a man from taking advantage of a woman. That has to be drilled into the individual’s upbringing. As many of my classmates have said before me, Christendom is not a perfect institution. It is compromised of individuals who just like everyone else has been tainted with original sin. We make mistakes, all of us, just some worse than others. But none of that fault lies with the school. If something at the school needs to change, that change lies with the individuals. We are the ones that must hold each other accountable for these actions.

    This past semester I realized just how much Christendom has impacted my life, I owe so much of who I have become as a person to this school. Christendom empowers women and gives us the tools to do so. I have been given leadership roles in various activities, which have fostered much self-growth to me as a person. The girls are in this campus will be there for you in any moment of any day. I spent countless hours relying on the help of my friends in an emotional crisis and even complete strangers who come across you shedding tears in the bathroom will be there to support you. I know I would not have this anywhere else. We have panel forum discussions hosted by alumni called “At the Well” and talks given by the senior girls called “Chic Chats” which give us practical advise on daily life, handling guys, raising a family, working in industries, etc. I don’t feel like I live in a bubble, rather I am being given the tools I need to tackle the world after graduation.

    As to the men on this campus, I found the best friends of my entire life and know that they would do everything to protect and guard me as a woman. I am preparing for my Rome semester now and I have talking to many of the guys I will be going with and I know that they will be escorting us home each and every night. I trust them completely that they would never hurt me in that way, no matter the circumstances or if drinking was involved. These are the guys I meet in the chapel every night at curfew to say night prayer and then talk to afterwards. Yes, out of 500 students, we are going to have a few individuals that reject this moral upbringing and step out of line. But if I feel comfortable turning to any of the above mentioned men and asking for help and knowing I would find it.

    So please, I ask you to stop attacking my school. I love Christendom College and all the people that make it what it is with my entire heart! And I thank the school for helping me become the best version of myself and confident as a woman in faith.

    God Bless,
    Nicole Marie

  11. Oh Simcha. Such a transparent attempt to make yourself relevant again. Pathetic. My prayer is that Christendom not accept your children should they ever apply to the college. Your liberal obnoxiousness is overbearing. Go write some more for The Jesuit rag, America Magazine and leave us Catholics alone.

  12. The series of articles posted by Mr and Mrs Fisher absolutely floored me. Why? Not because I thought Christendom was perfect–it isn’t, and I know that. Rather, I was horrified to see my school presented as yet another offender in the “culture of rape.” There are many of things that Christendom is, ranging from good to “a work in progress”: here, we are committed to truth, we are in love with God, we are eager to become as good as we can be. Here, we also have flaws, students who get in trouble and make mistakes, and policies that are improving. But never, EVER would I say that the Christendom culture neglects its women. People sometimes get hurt here in ways that no one ever should, yes. But as a whole, we don’t condone it, and the students and faculty strive to prevent these tragedies. And we’re largely successful: the true test of Christendom’s culture is not that the evils are absent, but that we don’t stand for them– at least, no one I know here does. To give a brief example, there was an incident last year in which proper respect wasn’t accorded to the girls on campus, and immediately, male students and faculty reacted to reprimand and correct the offenders. Perhaps Christendom could have taken a more active response in the cases in these articles– I can’t say for sure, as I wasn’t there. But one thing I know is that Christendom is not at all what these articles present it as.

  13. I am currently a junior at Christendom College, and this article is the exact opposite of my experience at Christendom College. In no way does Christendom promote a culture of rape. Dr. O’Donnell holds sessions during orientation for all new students, to both men and women separately, to talk to us about our value as human persons. He is always there for the students and I have never felt as if he was promoting a rape culture. Dr. O’Donnell clearly cares for Christendom immensely, and I am so thankful to him as our president.

    Neither do the policies at Christendom promote a rape culture. The dress code was representing inaccurately in the previous articles. The dress code is not that strict; it simply encourages women to dress in such a way that encourages us to recognize our inherent beauty. Men must also follow a dress code, both modest and professional. In addition, the dress code in no way tries to pin all the blame of sexual harassment on women and whether they were modest enough. Instead, it exists to show that the struggle for purity is a fight in which men need the help of women. However, it was made clear to us that if a man did harass us, it was his choice, not ours, and he would be the one blamed.

    In addition, the PDA policies do not promote a rape culture. They try to encourage men and women to build strong, virtuous friendships. Over the years, more co-ed places have been built, allowing men and women to have more opportunities to interact. I very much enjoy the open houses on Sunday as well as the now co-ed basement of St. Clare’s. No women live down here except the Residence Director, so it is a safe and friendly environment. There are multiple dances, pub nights, pancake nights, movie nights, game nights, and various other events to interact with the opposite gender. I have been dating since my second semester of freshman year (I am now a junior), and I do not feel as if Christendom forces me away on a simple date. Young men and women can watch movies or hang out in the Student Center, Killian’s, basement Clare’s, the gym, or walk around campus. There are also walks outside of campus. Furthermore, in Front Royal itself, there are coffee shops, a library, a bowling alley, a movie theater, multiple restaurants, antique shops, book shops, candy shops, and many other places. Not to mention, we are only an hour from D.C.! The school often hosts events taking students off campus, to ballets, operas, or other such events. In addition, RAs also host events off campus.

    I also love the same-sex dorms! I am so appreciative of having girls only in my dorm without the worry of a boy coming over. It has encouraged so many beautiful friendships that might not have occurred if boys lived in the dorms or were allowed to visit. I love being able to waltz around in my pajama, no makeup, hair a mess without the fear of running into a bunch of boys. The halls are cozy; the halls feel like home. Same sex halls are one of the reasons I chose Christendom as my school. I never want them to change.

    In summary, Christendom College is a place where I feel safe. The school has many policies which help to combat sexual harassment. I admit that in the cases in the past, Christendom may have made mistakes, but they have made positive changes to help protect their women. Our recent hires in Student Affairs, with whom I work personally as an RA, are a wonderful improvement to Christendom’s faculty, and they strive hard to enforce Christendom’s policies. Christendom teaches the dignity of every person, including women, and that sex is a beautiful life-long promise saved for marriage. The professors address this in class, in talks, and in their office. The school holds talks for men and women separately to address this. Men are encouraged in class, in homilies, in talks, and in their own halls to act as the protectors of women. When I consider where I attend school and other schools that exist, I am beyond thankful. Where else can a young, small women walk alone at night across campus without feeling threatened or unsafe? Christendom College does not promote a rape culture, but the exact opposite.

  14. As a young woman and current student at Christendom College, as someone who has an inside, firsthand perspective on the school and is continually immersed in the campus culture, I find the accusation that Christendom suffers from a so-called “rape culture” absolutely ludicrous on its face. The Christian atmosphere fostered by the school’s mission and the high standards to which all students, male and female alike, are held was immediately apparent to me when visiting the school and ultimately led me to make Christendom my top choice as a college. I came to Christendom precisely because its culture is not like that of other colleges, where objectification and sexual violence have become commonplace. I am proud to bear witness to the dignity and respect with which all persons, but especially women, are treated on a daily basis at this campus. To say that there are bad people who do bad things at every school, even Christendom, seems to be so blatantly self-evident that it is almost not worth stating, but the articles posted by Ms. Fisher seem to indicate otherwise, so it seems I must bring it up. Never once did I think when coming to the school that it was free from the problems typically found on college campuses. However, to look at these instances of bad people choosing, out of their own free will, to do bad things, and to then conclude that Christendom’s Christian values and codes of conduct are responsible for the offense is utterly nonsensical. The faultiness of this argumentation is especially clear when one compares these few noted cases of rape and sexual assault at Christendom to the pandemic of sexual violence which takes place at other colleges, whose culture of sexual liberation is the antithesis of Christendom’s. In conclusion, to echo a sentiment shared by one of my fellow female classmates, I am proud to say that I attend school in a culture of virtue and respect, not a culture of rape.

  15. Regardless of the imperfections of Christendom, which also happen to exist at every school, all three articles are clearly attempts to slam the school any chance you can get and they are so angering to read. They are written in a vicious tone which makes them come across as, not a chance to testify the stories rape survivors and their experiences, but a chance to rip apart the school throwing in details that are entirely irrelevant to the stories. As a writer you have lost all my respect.

  16. The culture Christendom College promotes in its institutions, student activities, policies, and academics is one which fosters respect for women. It has succeeded in creating an environment in which I personally feel safe as a woman. I have no worries walking around campus alone at night. I have never felt anything but security here. This is the place I feel I have come to experience confidence in my womanhood because of the security I feel at all times on campus and with my fellow students, male and female. I speak completely of my own free will on this matter
    Mary McLaughlin, Class of 2019

  17. I am a current junior at Christendom. I am deeply saddened and sickened by the recent controversy involving my sexual harassment and assault at my school. While I am the wrong person to ask regarding details about the existence of rape at Christendom or how it was handled in the past, I can certainly vouch for the culture of our community.

    Our school is committed to the pursuit of the true, the good, and the beautiful, and incorporating the Catholic faith into every aspect of our lives. These aren’t just empty words. I attended public school my whole life and when I made the decision to attend a Catholic college smaller than my high school, I was yearning for a culture where I could be surrounded with like-minded, good people with strong faiths. After 2 1/2 years at Christendom, I can honestly say it has been better than I could have ever expected. Professors, students, and staff alike form this community dedicated to building each other up and growing closer to Christ in the classroom, chapel, athletic fields, and extracurricular activities. It provides such a striking contrast to the secular culture of death that I encountered in public school that was divided into cliques and exclusive groups, and faculty and students who weren’t that interested in learning or building each other up, let alone believing in Christ’s mercy.

    That being said, I KNOW we’re made up of individual, fallen human beings. I have never been raped or encountered anyone who was raped at this school, but I’ll believe it’s happened because wherever there are humans, there is sin, even at a place where people are striving to be the best Catholics they can be. However, it surprises me because that is NOT the culture of Christendom. We don’t have a rape culture. Period. We have a culture where that would never be tolerated in a million years, and if it has happened, I fully believe that everyone would do everything they could to support the victim and punish the offender.

    What I would like Simcha Fisher to know is that there is no way she can possibly know what our campus culture is like unless she were to experience it firsthand, which she hasn’t. So stop calling it a rape culture because of a few isolated incidents of fallen human beings in far less frequency than what is tolerated daily on secular college campuses everywhere else. We hold each other to a higher standard of morality than everywhere I know, and it’s not restrictive but freeing, because God gives us instructions for how to live our lives in conformity with Him so that we can share in his life. Men are constantly giving talks about true manliness and respecting women. Women are constantly striving to be modest and professional, and to not hurt men by tempting them. These standards are out in the open, repeated by all of us, and integral to our community.

    If people have sinned and done things they probably regret, or if everything possible wasn’t done at the time to help those victims, people should be apologizing and being forgiven, the way Christ forgives us. Instead, people are writing slanderous articles and pointing fingers at a distance. Nobody has all the facts, and people are getting tied up over the details instead of forgiving whatever wrongs happened.

    So please, stop angrily giving our school a bad name. Stop saying we have a rape culture when that label is farther from the truth. Stop attacking Dr. O’Donnell and the administration when they have apologized profusely and taken action to remedy any past wrongs. Forgive as your Father has forgiven you and let’s move on, having learned the lesson that we are humans and when we fall, we need to continue to do a better job of building each other up. Please, allow Christendom College to continue to pursue the true, the good, and the beautiful, knowing that no one except Christ is perfect. Forgive us, and then apologize for the vicious, hateful way in which you have made us aware of our shortcomings. Thank you.

    In Christ,
    Emily Farabaugh

    1. CORRECTION: “my sexual harassment” in the first sentence should read “the sexual harassment.” Sorry for the typo.

    2. Emily said,

      “If people have sinned and done things they probably regret, or if everything possible wasn’t done at the time to help those victims, people should be apologizing and being forgiven, the way Christ forgives us. Instead, people are writing slanderous articles and pointing fingers at a distance.”

      We’d like more transparency from Christendom.

      We know for a fact (given these recent threads) that Christendom has a history of failing to deal well with sexual assault.

      When you’re dealing with an institution, it’s not a question of forgiving–the institution needs to fix policies, fix personnel, and demonstrate that things are OK now. And no, that doesn’t mean a flood of posts saying, “nobody raped ME and I’m OK.” The question is what happens when (and it’s always when not if) somebody is sexually assaulted. It sounds like Christendom probably has the basic policy and personnel in place now–what happens? I don’t think we have a clear picture of that. Do you women have a clear idea of what would be the appropriate line of action to take if you or a friend were assaulted? Do you have confidence that justice would be done, or would you or your friends wind up spending 2+ years side by side in class with the person that assaulted you and getting to hear classroom “hypotheticals” suggesting that you are an unchaste and a liar?

  18. Christendom’s culture is anything but a culture of rape. Every aspect of student life, from the modesty dress code to the dorm policies are meant to help the student body cultivate virtue. I have never felt anything but safe on this campus. To call it a culture of rape discredits the virtue of the students, as well as the faculty and staff who work so hard to help us grow as men and women in Christ.

  19. I am a sophomore at Christendom College and the blog written by Mrs. Fischer is wrong- Christendom simply does not promote rape culture. My boyfriend goes to a college in Washington, D.C., and he always walks with me to his female friend’s dorm where I stay overnight when I go to visit him because I don’t feel safe walking across campus by myself at night, but I often walk around Christendom’s campus at night by myself, whether I am going to or from somewhere else, or I am talking on the phone with my boyfriend to catch up at the end of the day. Ever since the beginning of my freshman year, I’ve felt secure while going places by myself because I don’t have to worry that any man, whether it be a peer or a member of the staff or faculty, will disrespect me. Not only that, but I trust the men of this campus to be there for support should I or any of my girl friends ever need them. I am part of Christendom’s Mother Theresa’s Children homeless ministry club that goes out to D.C. to spend time with homeless people in the city who may not have anyone to talk to or listen to them. There is always an additional risk to doing ministry with strangers, and for that reason we leaders of the club are sure to put at least one guy in each group (we break into groups of 3 or 4 students and then go into populated places where there are also homeless people) for safety. Simply having the guys there makes me feel much safer because I know they’ll be there should an emergency occur. Christendom has some of the most respectful men I have met, and even though sexual harassment and assault has occurred on campus, and that is never something to be taken lightly or excused, that is a fault with the aggressor, not with the school. I have experienced the frustration of not being allowed to have my boyfriend hang out in my dorm with my when he visits me, and instead we have had to be creative with where we go to spend one together, but for all the times we have taken walks in the woods or have gone to Skyline to sit and talk without being with others, I have never once been afraid of my boyfriend taking advantage of me. It isn’t a fault of the system, it’s a fault of the aggressor. I pray that anyone who reads Mrs. Fischer’ articles will take a look at Christendom’s culture for themselves rather than on relying solely on her articles, because the culture of Christendom that I and so many of my female friends have experienced is far from the culture that Mrs. Fischer proclaims.

    1. I realized after posing it that I had some spelling/word errors, so for correction, I meant “the” leaders of Mother Theresa’s children homeless ministry club, as I meant “we have had to be creative when spending *time* with one another,” and I also meant “Mrs. Fischer’s” (not “Fischer’ “) at the end. Thank you.

  20. As a female student of Christendom’s class of 2020, I live on campus and see my school’s ups and downs on a daily basis. While I admit that no place on earth is perfect, I do not see a culture where women are undervalued. I’ve never had reason to fear that I might be taken advantage of; I can safely live and pursue my education here at Christendom. Society offers young people so many ways to compromise their dignity, but Christendom fosters a culture where every person is treated as a beloved child of God. Policies (including the dress code, PDA policy, and sexual assault policy) are in place not to repress students but to help them protect their dignity. Dr. O’Donnell, Ms. Graf, and the rest of the Christendom College staff are people I trust. I trust that they are doing everything they can to ensure my safety and treat me with respect.

  21. I am a current student and transfer to Christendom College. I believe the culture here is person oriented and women are treated with respect and dignity. My experience has been only that of friendship and respect from all my classmates. I am grateful for this atmosphere the school tries to foster.

  22. Regarding student life and the so-called “culture of rape”: I have been a female student at Christendom for three years now, and I’ve never had occasion to feel unsafe on campus, even at night while walking alone. I was pretty bitter about men before I came to Christendom and was accustomed to being objectified, but the men here have changed my mind. Their consistent respect has actually led me to discover my own dignity. There are always some men who don’t have a stellar attitude toward women, but I feel confident that if I were insulted by one of them, ten other men would jump to my defense. I also know firsthand that the faculty and staff go through a lot behind the scenes, and I’ve been continually impressed by how genuinely concerned they are about the students. If I were ever assaulted in any way, they would be the first people I’d turn to. Many thanks to them, and to the Christendom men.

  23. In my time at Christendom, I have not once felt concerned for my safety. As a freshman at Christendom I have seen the men on campus strive to grow to be true gentlemen, promoting the dignity and safety of women. I feel safe walking to and from classes, at dances, and at night, whether alone or with friends (guys or girls). Through a strong Catholic education, the students here at Christendom truly are encouraged to live chaste lives by both the curriculum and faculty/staff. I have seen students acting on this encouragement offered and as a result, the women on campus receive the utmost respect and dignity we deserve. Christendom College does so much for the Catholic community as a whole, by creating an environment that students flourish in. For this, I am eternally grateful to Dr. O’Donnell, student life, and the Christendom community.

  24. I am a sophomore female student at Christendom College. As a young woman, I have never felt threatened or unsafe while walking on Christendom’s campus. The faculty and staff strive to instill in the young men the respect that every man should have for women. As a student here for a year and a half, I have experienced this culture of respect through the young men opening doors for me, allowing me to go ahead of them in line, and even watching their language when they are around me. The policies in place for student life, such as the modesty dress code, are especially aimed at promoting respect for women. This college truly has a Catholic culture of chivalry.

  25. I am a girl in the class of 2019 at Christendom College in Front Royal, VA. This school does not encourage rape, disobedience, or misbehavior but is filled with many good people. I feel safe on this campus. I feel safer on this campus alone even at night. In fact anytime at night. I have never heard a girl (or a guy) on this campus say they felt endangered by the other students. There are several individual people whom I would not be with alone, but they are a small number and are not living the Christendom College life.

    Christendom College has rules which are not difficult to follow. The dress code is modest with much leeway for style, so no one can say that it restricts one too much and encourages rebellion. People have been and will still be rebellious, but this is common on every college campus. Moreover, there is a smaller percentage of students committing immoral acts such as rape and harassment contrary to Christendom’s policies here where it is in no way encouraged than at most other schools. I feel safe on this campus, and I trust Christendom College with the task supporting me and my friends if I am hurt or threatened in anyway.

  26. Mr. and Mrs. Fischer,

    I am a current student of the Class of 2020 at Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia. I would like to share with you, as a young woman on this campus, my views on our culture. Before I say anything else, I will admit that our school is far from perfect. It’s to be expected. We are fallen human beings. However, we do not promote the kind of culture as portrayed by your blog.

    When I visited the school as a senior in high school, I fell in love with professors, the beauty of the campus, and the classes which I would take. However, when I arrived as a freshman, I learned there was nothing more beautiful than the culture of community that is so strongly promoted. I am introverted and poor when it comes to meeting new people. Within a month, however, several sophomores, guys and girls, had taken me under their wing and were there for me through all my hardest moments: homesickness, first exams, dislike of classes, etc. Sophomores, juniors, and even seniors alike helped get me involved with our Student Activities’ Council which is a community within the campus community who sets aside a large portion of their time in order to host game nights, bonfires, and dances for their fellow students. The hard work and love that is put into every event amazed me as a freshman and helped me see that, as a general rule, our students love each other.

    Not only is the student body involved with caring for each other, but our lives revolve around Christ and His Church. A majority of students attend daily Mass, our chaplains are always available for spiritual guidance, and theology is throughout all of our core and upper level classes. Our professors and faculty promote the Catholic Culture just in who they are as strong Catholics who challenge and lead, not only their families, but also their students to seek a deeper understanding and appreciation of our gift of Faith. Never have I been more in love with Catholicism than after my year and a half here are school.

    The rules on campus have also changed since the victims spoken of in your articles have graduated. We have open house every weekend and it’s less of a “spectacle.” We have more co-ed spaces in which we are able to foster healthy relationships with members of the opposite sex. Hand-holding is permitted. In fact, the same dean who was here at the time of those alumae is no longer working for the school. Our new Dean of Student Affairs has done wonders enforcing new policies (including the sexual harassment ones) and giving us the capability to feel safe and free to seek help in any situation. We not only have a fantastic chaplains, but also mental health aid who comes in once a week, but is always available for scheduling appointments.

    I’m saddened to hear that Christendom is being portrayed as something it is not. I love this school, its professors, its faculty, and its student body. At what other school can a girl feel safe walking across campus alone late at night as I have done so many times? Very few. This school has changed from what these women are accusing it of being. The culture promoted is not one of rape, but of community in Christ. Please understand that.

  27. I’m a current student at Christendom college. While I cannot testify for what it was like here before I came, I can speak about the way it is now. At my freshman orientation (Fall 2016), the student life staff gave a talk addressing the issue of consent. Though it was not a lengthy presentation, the administration emphatically encouraged the young women to come to them even if they felt the slightest concern about the possibility of being sexually harassed or assaulted. Furthermore more, after this blog was published, I met with Miss Graf to voice my shock and concern about what had been said. She informed me that the student life handbook now has a protocol for sexual harassment and assault. Furthermore, later that evening, the senior women called the all the girls together and discussed the issue of sexual assault.
    Christendom HAS made progress since the previous incidents. We as a community are taking active steps to address this issue.
    I wish the author of this blog post would consider searching for the good being done in the present rather than the evil being done in the past.
    Aside from all this, why the author HAD to publish the articles on Tuesday is a mystery to me. If she was really trying to get at the truth and communicate with the college, wouldn’t she have waited for give their availability rather than imposing an arbitrary deadline upon them? From this is it seems to me that the author’s intent is not to help, but to hinder. She has no regard for destruction she’s leaving in her wake.
    I’m glad that these atrocities have been brought to light. But the author’s way of doing so completely lacks Christian charity.

  28. As current Christendom student and a woman, I most certainly feel protected on this campus. No school is perfect, but Christendom comes much closer than most. I feel safe walking around campus, and I feel safe around the men. The “boys will be boys” attitude that is alluded to and attributed to Christendom could not be farther from the truth. The men stand up for the ladies. Are there exceptions? Of course, there always are. If someone wants to leave campus or go to the woods and get in trouble, they can. But this is not the norm here, and I feel very safe with all the virtuous young men around men.
    I also need to put a word in for Dr. O’Donnell and Miss Graf. They are both amazing people and have done so much for the school, improving it where it was needed and making it even better where it was good. I feel very safe in their hands, and I am very grateful to everything they and the school have given me.

  29. Christendom College is not perfect. It is full of human beings who are capable of making the wrong decision – just like every other school out there. Unlike at most other schools, however, women are protected here. We can safely cross campus in the middle of the night without fear of being attacked or preyed upon. At many other schools, this would be unimaginable – a never-occurring circumstance. On Christendom College’s campus, men are encouraged actively by each other and by faculty and staff to be men – to be true men, who respect and defend women, who take responsibility for their own actions, who look after each woman like she is his sister. Are they all going to do so? No; some of them chose to follow a destructive path. But compared to almost every other college campus, this number is so small. All of the men I have met in my two years here are very gracious toward and protective of women, from holding a door to speaking out when another man says something even slightly offensive of women. Overall, Christendom College IS a safe place for women, and the College fosters a culture of safety and respect for women. If there are some students who do not respect the culture Christendom promotes, then it is their fault, not the College’s. I would never trade this school for another, especially if the decision came down to my safety as a woman. Here I know I am respected and cared for; here I know that even men I have met once would leap to my defense if I was in danger.

  30. I am a freshman here at Christendom College with the class of 2021. I find the community and culture here at Christendom influenced by respect and virtue. As a woman I have only ever been treated with respect and chivalry by the men on this campus, more so than on any other college campus. As I have participated in numerous events at Christendom, I have never felt uncomfortable or threatened.

  31. As a woman at Christendom I feel extremely safe on the campus. I have many friends who go to public universities that I have visited and the atmospheres are so different. At Christendom I know that I can walk from one side of campus to the other at night and no one will hurt me. Christendom is in no way perfect, but I do not think that it promotes a culture of rape. I also would like to point out that we have a different president and Dean of student life then when this incident happened and that they do have policies to prevent sexual assault. Sexual assault is a terrible crime and should be addressed seriously, and I hope that Adele Smith may find peace and that this situation may be resolved with charity.

  32. Christendom College is a truly incredible school. As a young woman I am blessed to be a member of this school, for the women of Christendom College have the unique gift in that they have the protection of faculty, the resident assistants, and the male students themselves who respect us, protect us, and treat us with dignity. Christendom College is the one school at which I am comfortable walking alone—even at night. As a member of the community of Christendom I know that I am safe on its campus and will always be respected and protected by its members.

  33. I am a current student at Christendom College, and not once have I felt unsafe around campus. I know what kind of community we have here. It is not perfect, we are human, but I know that IF something happened, I could go to my professors, my friends, my RA, or any faculty, and I trust them. We are REAL people here. We have our weaknesses, our problems, our strengths, our hopes, we commit individual actions whether they be good or bad, but as a community we do what is possible to promote a safe community. My dignity as a woman, as a human being, and as a student, are all held and respected by the people that surround me here. By action, word, and belief, my womanhood is acknowledge and respected-by the men and my fellow women. Thank you very much, but I do believe I am safe, I do trust my Christendom community, and I do believe we work to improve ourselves if necessary.

  34. I am a current female student at Christendom College of the class of 2020. Christendom College definitely does not have a “rape culture.” I feel very safe walking around both during the day and at night, whether from the library to the student center to back to the women’s dorms. I feel respected by my classmates and other students, including both men and women of Christendom. Men treat each other and women with respect here at Christendom because they want to, not because they feel compelled to treat women with respect as a result of peer pressure. In the past twenty plus years there have only been five rape accusations, which is really incredibly low compared to other colleges and universities. At other colleges, however, rape is a serious problem with multiple rapes being reported each day. I have two cousins who go much larger schools than I. One is at Indiana University and the other is at Notre Dame. Both of these young ladies have to deal with rape culture on a daily basis.

    Furthermore, we are not living in a “Catholic bubble” as Mrs. Fisher claims in her articles. The college is certainly not full of students who were homeschooled and came here because their parents wanted them to continue to live a sheltered life. Students come here from various backgrounds and all over the world. There is a wide variety of students who went to private Catholic or Christian schools, public schools, and homeschool. I would also like to make it clear that not all homeschoolers live sheltered lives as Mrs. Fisher assumes. All parents parent their children differently. Some allow their children to watch and listen to media that other parents would seriously frown upon.

    I’m not trying to make the college appear to be the perfect place. It’s not. Every college has its problems, but rape culture is not one the problems here.

    1. Christendom refuses to disclose the number of rape accusations they have handled. But there have been more than five.

  35. I have been at Christendom College for one semester and have participated in several activities such as group rosary, soccer, and the Chester-Belloc Debate Society. Never once have I ever felt as if I were in the smallest amount of danger during my time here. This past semester I had taken Dr O’Donnell’s “Ancient and Biblical World” history class, and for the first time in my life I understood in a deeply meaningful way, my dignity and worth. Dr O’Donnell changed my life in a way that I will be forever indebted. The men of this college have proven time and time again to be true men of Christendom, where they stand up for the dignity of each woman. The men here treat us with the utmost respect day in and day out. The culture here at Christendom College cultivates healthy relationships between members of the opposite sex. We form tight knit friendships which lead us closer to Christ and for this I am deeply grateful.
    Our Lady Queen of Christendom, ora pro nobis!

  36. I am a sophomore female of Christendom College. I have always felt very safe on Christendom’s campus, with both men and woman alike. At night, without fear or reserve I walk the dorms halls and the whole of campus. I have never felt violated nor even feared the likelihood of violation, of any form, from the men on this campus. I truly believe this to be one of the safest campuses.
    I can say with sincerity that Christendom has improved its student life administration, and will always continue to improve for the benefit of the student body.

  37. As a current Sophomore girl at Christendom College, I have now completed three full semesters at Christendom College while living on campus. I have never been disrespected or felt in anyway threatened by any fellow student, boys or girls. Yes, Christendom has problems and yes there are different offenses that happen on campus but that does not make the culture of the school as a whole “dangerous,” “not protective of women,” or a “rape-culture.” Whereas at other colleges, particularly secular colleges, after 3 semesters most girls would have some story of a fellow student treating her in a disrespectful or inappropriate manner, here at Christendom College it is completely shocking if something does happen to a girl. This does not mean that a girl can just assume that she is always safe and that all men will respect her. At Christendom, you are given ample opportunity to choose your friends, ask other comrades what they think of those friends, and learn for yourself about people. This is a small campus. Most things get circulated. If there are people that you shouldn’t straightforwardly trust, then you have ample opportunity to learn and act prudently. But this is how you should act anywhere!

  38. As a current student at Christendom, I am so blessed to be here. It is clear that the professors truly care for their students and want them to succeed. The students also have a community in which we work to build each other up and help each other to be the best Catholics that we can be.

  39. I am a student at Christendom College, and as a woman, I feel safe on this campus. The men are gentlemen, who are taught to respect women. I have learned so much from the men around me, and I know that I can call on them if I need anything. There is a dresscode, but it is not as restrictive as it seems. Instead, it promotes basic modesty guidelines, as well as teaching students how to dress professionally. The PDA rules are exaggerated in this article, as many of the other comments have stated. The guidelines encourage a sense of community, rather than trying to make it hard for couples. Instead of cuddling in the corner and isolating themselves, the couple can talk and learn about each other, as well as making other friends, building up the support system that is so central to the Christendom community.
    In conclusion, I would encourage people to read the other comments from Christendom students, alumni, and professors. This college is safe for women, and I am proud to call myself a student of this great college.

  40. Christendom College provides a secure and supportive culture for its students. I am a freshman at Christendom, and I know that I am respected and loved by students and faculty alike because Catholic charity reigns on campus and indeed permeates the atmosphere of the college. I can walk freely on campus without fear of attack; moreover, I am secure in the knowledge that the men of Christendom hold a deep respect for the women of Christendom. I have loved and continue to love my time here at Christendom, which provides a culture of respect and security for the dignity of each person.

  41. There are bad people everywhere. I have met bad people at Christendom. However, these few people are in no way representative of Christendom as a whole. Even as a cradle Catholic who grew up in a very traditional environment, I have never before seen so many young people within one community who are fighting the good fight, for chastity and for the other virtues.

    Because Christendom has a dress code, I feel safe knowing that I and the other women at the College are not objectifying ourselves in the eyes of the young men around us. Because Christendom has single-sex dorms, I feel safe knowing that men and women are forced to part ways at night. Because Christendom has an extraordinary faculty who call us continuously to a life of virtue, I feel safe knowing that I am not alone in my desire for chastity.

  42. As a woman attending Christendom College, I can not think if the last time I received disrespect. On the contrary, the men here especially, from Dr. O’Donnell to my professors to my peers have always shown great courtesy.
    No place is perfect!! But I can proudly say I believe the Christendom community cares for me as an individual and truly wants the good for everyone.
    Christendom is not just worried about her good name. She cares for those who have been hurt. Her mission still is ” to restore all things in Christ”.

  43. I am a current student of Christendom College and member of our campus community. Here at Christendom I am witness to a community in which the student body, faculty, and staff are firmly dedicated to upholding the beauty and dignity of each person on a daily basis. As a woman on campus, I have never felt anxious or threatened, confident that I will always be treated with the utmost respect. At Christendom College I am immersed in a culture of virtue, not a culture of rape.

  44. I am a female student from the class of 2020 at Christendom College, and Christendom College has a very positive atmosphere for women. Everyone here greatly respects the dignity of everyone, especially that of women. I feel respected by all of my classmates, especially the men on campus. Christendom does have its problems, but that does not mean that it has a “rape culture.” I don’t necessarily feel comfortable walking alone in the dark across campus, but I would feel that way anywhere. That’s not an attitude I have exclusively at Christendom. As a woman I know I have to be aware of my surroundings, but again, I know that I have to be aware everywhere. If I ever felt there was truly a danger to my safety, I would leave immediately. I’m not concerned some rapist will come out of nowhere to assault me here.
    Once, the college watched a movie together. In one scene, a man hesitated before walking into a woman’s bedroom. (The two characters weren’t married, and it was assumed they would be sleeping together.) I was floored when the young man I was sitting next to whispered under his breath, “be a gentleman. Be a gentleman.” Just about every man in the room had the same reaction. Everyone wanted that male character to respect the dignity of the woman in the scene. Obviously, Christendom has problems. Christendom can continue to improve. But we have amazing people here who respect the dignity of the human person.

  45. I’m a current female student at Christendom, class of 2020, and I feel safe on campus. I feel respected by my fellow classmates, male and female. The men with whom I interact at school have consistently shown me respect whether it be through opening doors for me, saying good morning, supporting my academic pursuits, or courteously taking part in a discussion. I am not only respected by my peers but also my teachers. The faculty at this school is one of the most remarkable aspects of Christendom. I feel challenged, respected, and loved by my teachers and am so grateful to be their student. I understand that everyone has a different experience at college. This has been mine.

  46. I am a current student at Christendom and I feel safe around the Christendom faculty and staff. I have good friends. Christendom fosters a prayerful and good community. We are fallen, but there is still much goodness here.

  47. I currently attend Christendom. As a woman, a student, and a human being I am respected. Our culture promotes chivalry and kindness towards everyone at Christendom. From day one, the men of this campus are filled with a joy in being gentlemen to every girl. Yes, there are individuals at every school who break the rules and go against the culture their school promotes, but here at Christendom, we promote a sense of dignity and appreciation for women that I don’t experience in the secular world and not many other Catholic communities.

  48. Before the essays “went to press”? Huh? Do the Fishers fancy themselves the new Woodward and Bernstein?

    Um, this is a blog. They themselves decide when their essays “go to press”. It’s easy: one them reaches over and clicks the button that says “publish”. Sorry but this is sounding at best like “we had no other blog content for the week”; at worst like “let’s publish before the president says something that takes the sting out of our story”. Well, it turns out no Pulitzer Prize for the Fishers. The fact of the matter is they “went to press” without thoroughly “investigating”: the handbook was changed in 2013, a pretty critical fact to have missed. Good gracious.

    Any thorough, honest piece on this issue would include a small mention that date rape is now so rampant across the nation that it’s known as the “college rape crisis”; that even institutions as high up on the food chain as Columbia University are scratching their heads over how to deal with it; that many schools are making the huge mistake of dealing with it “in-house” by setting up student-led kangaroo courts; etc. etc. It’s a sad and complicated issue, driven to this point by the sexual revolution – the culture of which, ironically, Christendom has tried and to a large degree succeeded in keeping off campus.

    But no balance or context, or credit from the Fishers for these fine efforts, just the inexplicable singling out of a tiny college unknown to most, and the attempt to generate some kind of media firestorm, backed by incomplete research and with obvious political prejudices. They will say it’s because Christendom claims to be more – but really they’re just dealing out comeuppance. They’ll claim they’re only after the truth as they research schools for their daughters – but now they’re making open appeals for current and former students to reach out and share their stories. A classic witch hunt: keep digging until you find something. Again with the Woodward and Bernstein routine.

    At any rate, I look forward to watching as they, out of journalistic fairness and parental duty, work their way through the entire Newman Society list of recommended colleges one by one before finally making that informed decision that started this whole sad affair.

  49. This is a blog; not an official newspaper article written by actual journalists and it shows. If the Fishers were interested in producing an article with the “truth,” they would have conducted a more thorough investigation. For instance, they would have interviewed local criminal defense attorneys and local law enforcement to find out:
    • the legal procedure for how this case is handled
    • what elements they look for to see if they can proceed with a case
    • what elements are absent in cases that are dropped
    • requested a professional opinion on where a case like Adele’s fell
    • and a professional opinion on whether Christendom acted within its merit in handling
    the rape accusations and harassment

    and then written their story.

    If they had done all of these things, they would have realized that Christendom College, or any other organization for that matter, cannot do any more for victims without evidence. Christendom was able to punish the accused for harassment, because there were (1) witnesses and (2) the accused admitted to it. Unfortunately, they only had Adele’s accusation for the incident and nothing else to support it. I believe her, but you can’t punish someone based off an accusation – that’s a terrible precedent (e.g. Salem Witch Trials). Moreover, even with these new policies in place, if girls don’t come forward right away (I understand why they don’t) and without the abuser admitting to it/DNA or audio/visual evidence, ANY organization won’t be able to do much more than Christendom did, because all that’s there is an accusation. If the college had punished the accused for rape without evidence, he would have been within his rights to sue Christendom.

    There is no doubt that Adele and her family deserved far more charity from the administration and Dr. O’Donnell. I, and undoubtedly other alumni, are glad that that level of indifference to a traumatizing situation that deserved nothing but empathy and sensitivity was exposed. It was disappointing, but not entirely surprising, since this is an issue that is not isolated to Christendom. Rape is an international problem, and it is one of the many issues along with divorce, molestation, violent and abusive parents/spouses, etc., that people in our society – not just Christendom – have difficulty discussing. The general discomfort with these issues and plethora of misinformation out there of how these issues occur, makes it more difficult.

    1. Didn’t Adele’s accusation only happen after a significant period of time had passed(and after the male in question broke up with her?). A jury may see an accusation as revenge for having the audacity of breaking up with her. It would not be the first time in history for this to happen. Is there any corroborative evidence besides her word? Does anyone here think that women don’t like sex and don’t have a sex drive and couldn’t possibly WANT to fool around with a guy after curfew?

    2. The procedure that should have been used is available here:

      A few excerpts:
      Qualified Investigators — It takes years of specialized training (not just a few hours) to fully understand the complicated dimensions of gender-based violence. Reports must be investigated by impartial individuals with extensive professional expertise in gender-based violence to ensure they are effective, professional, and trauma-informed.
      Case Managers — Schools should provide survivors who report with a qualified case manager, someone they can contact whenever they have questions about the process and who is responsible for keeping them up-to-date about any developments, helping them secure accommodations and interim measures, and preventing retaliation. At many schools, survivors and accused students will be given the same case manager, which can make many survivors (and accused students) uncomfortable, deterring them from coming forward. Your school should guarantee that survivors and perpetrators will never have the same case managers.
      Survivors’ Stories — Investigations (and hearings) should be designed to limit the number of times survivors must re-describe the incident to as few individuals as is practicable.
      Timely Investigations — Schools must conduct the major stages of investigations and grievance procedures in a reasonably prompt timeframe. The ideal timeframe is about 60 days, depending on the complexity of the case.

      All schools should use the preponderance of the evidence (otherwise known as “more likely than not”) standard for adjudicating complaints. The preponderance of the evidence is the standard used to adjudicate civil rights cases in court. Since Title IX is a civil rights law that exists to protect each student’s right to an education free from harassment and violence, the preponderance of the evidence standard is the most equitable and appropriate standard. Schools should not use a different standard, such as “clear and convincing” or “beyond a reasonable doubt”.

      It does not appear this procedure was followed in this case. Legally, it doesn’t have to be, as Christendom doesn’t take federal funding and so isn’t subject to Title IX. But that seems like a good reason to go to a school that is. These are the best practices, and Christendom doesn’t bother with them.

  50. I have not read the previous comments, and apologize if this question has already been asked. Just wondering what the police’s role has been in the accusations made? It seems to me (although I am ignorant) that the police have or should have played a role in the investigation, but this was not mentioned. At what point does a university’s responsibility come in when there are also responsibilities on the part of the state to enforce law concerning rape?

    1. As far as I know there have been no convictions or charges filed. The school should defer to the finds of the judicial system when it comes to serious felonies like murder, rape, etc. Taking action based on accusation without evidence could open the school up to significant liability.

      1. Anonymous said,

        ” The school should defer to the finds of the judicial system when it comes to serious felonies like murder, rape, etc. ”

        Does it wait for the verdict of the judicial system with regard to PDA, skirt length and room checks?

        Their hands aren’t actually tied here–Christendom obviously has an unusual amount of power over students while they are on campus. If Christendom doesn’t use that power to protect students but chooses to police skirt length instead, that says a lot about their priorities.

  51. This is an honest question. Are you being honest about your motives Simcha? What are you trying to accomplish? I am truly curious.

  52. Since I have made comments on other people’s comments. I want to be clear that I definitely believe your blog was heavily biased by the way things were described at times. I totally believe the victims were raped/assaulted and that it was badly handled. The College has made incredible progress in contracting for psychological services, its stafftng, talks, and the policy changes. Can there be further improvement? Sure.

  53. Simcha, if you really had a will to truth, you would never have published a hatchet piece full of outright lies. You’re trying to destroy the lives of hundreds of innocent people by associating them with covering up rape, God only knows why. The administration can’t respond publicly, because of confidentiality laws, so you’re boxing against an opponent with his hands tied behind his back. (And by the way, if you had read the NVD story carefully, you would have noticed that Ken himself pointed out that we’re not bound by Title IX, but that we follow Title IX procedures when it comes to these cases).

    -You asserted that Christendom College fosters a “boys will be boys” mentality. This is an outright lie.
    -You asserted that no judge in Front Royal would “convict” a rapist. This is an outright lie.
    -You asserted that the College has a vested interest in covering up rape. This is an outright lie.
    -I believe Elizabeth about her interview.

    I could go on. 38-year-old carpets in buildings that are less than 20 years old? A 10 pm curfew?
    Men and women aren’t allowed to sit next to each other? Women only wear skirts? There’s only one cafe in Front Royal?

    Spare me. These are all fictions. Our rules are stricter than those you would find at Ohio State, but they’re not nearly as strict as those you would find at many an evangelical college or a place like BYU, for example.

    Listen: unlike you, I actually know Adele Smith. I would take a bullet for Adele Smith. I was one of the people who believed her, supported her, encouraged her to go to College authorities and police, etc. etc. She was one of my most faithful visitors in the hospital during my treatments for bone cancer. I care deeply and personally about Adele Smith, but unlike you, I know what the hell I’m talking about when it comes to Christendom College. I told Adele at the time that the college and the National Park Police would do everything they could for her, but that actually convicting the dude of rape might be rendered more difficult because the incident happened 18 months earlier, and there was no evidence that dated back to that time (texts or emails or whatnot).

    I also have a daughter. I want her to go to Christendom College because it offers the most rigorous liberal arts education in the United States. And also because I know that she would be safe at Christendom College in a way that she would never be safe at any large, secular university.

    What you are doing, Simcha, is trying to destroy something because you don’t know it very well and you have a vague but nevertheless violent dislike of it. What you don’t realize is that you’re not attacking some conservative Catholic corrupt patriarchy. You’re attacking people. People like me, who would take a bullet for any one of my students, any day. People like my student Claire (not her real name) who fights through the pain of her cerebral palsy to walk to class every day. People like my student Theresa (also not her real name) who just wrote a wonderful thesis under my direction on the historic persecution of Jewish communities within Christian society. She’s applying to graduate school to continue studying that issue. I hope your hit pieces don’t impact her chances.

    Next time, start with a will to truth. The truth will set you free.

    1. Brendan,

      Setting aside the inaccuracies of the piece, and focusing on the larger issue, I have no doubt that you did everything you possibly could for Adele, and that is most commendable. A bit of sympathy can go a long way. I am pleased and relieved to see that she received such great faculty support. With that said, while I am no Simcha Fisher fan, I hope that you would recognize and acknowledge that the person who did the greatest amount of damage to the Christendom community is the one who took advantage of Adele, and others like him. Let’s not lose sight of that. From the sound of it, he committed a violent crime and has seemingly gotten away with it. His reputation has not been significantly harmed, he suffered no real consequences, and I’m not sure if he has shown any remorse or regret. I certainly hope he learned a lesson, because ultimately, it’s his eternal soul that matters. But actions have consequences, and unfortunately the ones harmed by his are the people you mentioned, as well as Adele herself.

      1. If you have evidence concerning the Adele case please provide it. All I have heard is insinuation, rumor and hearsay. An accusation of rape or any other felony is extremely damaging for a male even if it is baseless.

    2. If the admin followed Title IX procedures, it would make publicly available the number of rape cases it adjudicates each year. That’s a requirement Title IX schools have, which Christendom refuses to do. I don’t think you’re lying, I think you’re repeating what the admin told you — but I think they lied to you about this.

      Thanks for supporting Adele. But since you were with her at that time, you have to know they were pretty callous, right? And that they dragged their feet on this, even while her rapist was harassing her. Doesn’t that bother you?

      I know you’re worried about the college, and about your job. But I don’t think anyone’s calling for the college to be shut down, and I think it’s unlikely to happen if the board shows itself proactive in trying to change things. But so far, the admin are still scrambling to hush the whole thing up. For example:
      -Their apology doesn’t include any actual apology
      -They promised they would put it on the front page so people could see it, but they never did that — you have to know where it’s linked to find it at all
      -They are censoring the alumni group and blocking anyone critical
      -Dr. O’Donnell still refuses to talk to the press. He never called Simcha back, nor the NVD.

      If the college shows itself, yet again, more concerned about its reputation than about victims, it may destroy itself. Those nice students you mention will have to transfer somewhere else, and you’ll have to find another job. And that’s sad. But it will be the fault of the admin, not Simcha. The administration CAN salvage this if they actually act with integrity and honesty instead of scrambling to shut up everyone who criticizes it. But they seem disinclined to do that. I’m sorry that the consequences of their actions are going to fall on your head, but they’re the ones to be angry at – not Simcha, Adele, or the many angry alumni and others who are demanding some accountability.

      1. Sheila are you so sure title 9 requires schools to adjudicate and report rape occurring OFF campus and NOT at a school event? That is far from clear to me.

    3. This is beautiful.
      And this school,Christendom, also saved the faith for my daughter who graduates this year, it also managed to patch together a semblance of life that her family due to cultural reasons, modernism and Vatican 2 could not.
      True that Simcha attacks on a notion of a conservative biased patriarchy …
      And also true that’s it’s based on her violent yet vague dislike of whatever she thinks she’s thinking of .
      What a response!

    4. This is beautiful.
      And this school,Christendom, also saved the faith for my daughter who graduates this year, it also managed to patch together a semblance of life that her family due to cultural reasons, modernism and Vatican 2 could not.
      True that Simcha attacks on a notion of a conservative biased patriarchy …
      And also true that’s it’s based on her violent yet vague dislike of whatever she thinks she’s thinking of .
      What a response!

    5. Dr. McGuire,

      The claims of “outright lies” here are unwarranted.

      That the college, at least in the past, overemphasized women’s modesty relative to men’s self-control (i.e. “boys will be boys”) is a question of value judgment, of how much emphasis each should get and are getting, and coming to a judgment different from yours is not an act of lying.

      Joe Wagner, ’11

      1. “Joe Wagner, ’11”

        This little detail says a lot.

        The incident in question happened nearly a decade ago. Mr Wagner was likely to have been there, and might therefore be in a position to comment on the atmosphere of the campus at the time. Many of the present students responding here were not, and can only comment on the atmosphere of the campus today.

        If we were to assume that the administration handled this publicly back then, with less finesse than they might have otherwise, it is entirely possible that whatever lessons could have been learned, have since then (quietly, perhaps) been incorporated into the formation of student life.

    6. “And by the way, if you had read the NVD story carefully, you would have noticed that Ken himself pointed out that we’re not bound by Title IX, but that we follow Title IX procedures when it comes to these cases”

      OK, I’ll bite. Where’s the data? Title IX school are required to make crime data available to the public. Not just crimes on campus, but crimes involving students off campus. I checked. You don’t seem to make that available. You claim you’re following Title IX procedures. Where is your data?

      1. Damien, Read the story. He was talking about following Title IX for the investigation not the rest of the paperwork and beaurocracy. Specifically, he said, “But we apply it in terms of the adjudication of sexual harassment as best practices and, as written, we believe that policy, as of 2013 … represents best practices as it deals with and protecting people who were victims of sexual harassment,””

        Honestly, if you can’t even understand a written interview correctly, how are we ever to believe that you understood Ms. Foeckler correctly and didn’t misquote her? I certainly don’t. You clearly have an agenda and struggle with nuance.

        Maybe you are mad because he gave an interview to an actual newspaper and not your blog, but given how you have misrepresented the university and lied about them having a ““boys will be boys” attitude which allows the male students to harass and grab at the women.” and a “campus culture actually facilitates sexual assault” can you blame him?

  54. I graduated from Christendom in 98’ and can speak to the culture of the school at that time…before the “changes” were implemented. Having lived in many cities around the nation, and having attended four institutions of higher learning, I can honestly say that I felt the safest and most respected as a woman during my years at Christendom. I dated quite a bit while I was there and even married one of those men. I never felt driven off of campus to have alone time with my boyfriend. We had plenty to do on campus and enjoyed our time there immensely. I did have an incident with a boy I had dated while attending…he was great while we dated but became upset when I broke up with him and began giving me trouble. After a couple of weeks of his stalking and harassing behaviors, I decided to speak up and I went to the administration. They handled it immediately and were ready to get the police involved if I had wanted. They offered me free counseling if I needed it as well. I felt fully supported and never had another incident after that. I always felt that the policies and actions of Christendom and the administration created a culture that was as safe as possible and that fostered healthy relationships and behavior within those relationships. They achieved this at a level far and above any other institution that I have attended.

    1. Dear Ms. Dunlap,
      Thank you so much for sharing your experience at Christendom. It means so much to us as current students to hear alumnae speaking up with us in Christendom’s defense.
      God bless you.

  55. I was sexually assaulted on Christendom’s campus my freshman year.
    But this post is not going to go the way you think.
    I never blamed the college for what happened to me. In fact the college’s rules, however much we make fun of them, could’ve prevented it from ever happening, as it happened after curfew. I spent a long time blaming myself, and the guy. I blame my parents too. My parents sent me to Christendom not realizing that the school was full of sinners just like every other school. Who sent me without so much as a warning about what to do if I felt uncomfortable. Who sent me with the expectation that I would save my first kiss for engagement. Who sent me without so much as an awkward sex talk and left me to figure it out by inference.
    I blamed myself for freezing up. It’s true, I didn’t fight it all the way. At first I did. And I said no. But when you’re an 18 year old who has never held hands with a guy suddenly feels his hands all over her, you freeze. You never mentally prepared for this. You were saving your first kiss for your husband and now it is gone, along with other firsts you were too innocent to even consider.
    Thank God, it didn’t go further than that. But I remember walking to the dorm from the gym parking lot feeling utterly empty and dirty. It took about two years for me to feel somewhat myself again.
    I blamed the guy for knowing my vulnerabilities and playing them like a fiddle.
    Changing the handbook wouldn’t have prevented this. But maybe it wouldn’t have taken me two years to feel like myself again if the college’s current resources had been available at the time. And it does sadden me that they took so long. If I knew it was ok to talk about it. If I wasn’t afraid people would tell me it was my fault for leading him on. If I thought there was any way my parents wouldn’t take me out of the school I loved if they were told. I would have definitely taken advantage of counseling had it been available at the time. And maybe I would’ve been able to get out of my own head and enjoy my time there more if I hadn’t been dealing with anxiety and self image problems.
    I’m glad to know these resources are available now. But changing the handbook wouldn’t have changed anything for me. I knew there were bad guys out there and I even knew about assault and rape by that time. But I never imagined it could happen to me.
    What left me vulnerable wasn’t the lack of a sexual assault policy. It was my upbringing and my own insecurities and my naïveté.
    We need to have a conversation about raising capable, confident, and wise Catholic daughters instead of sending them out into the world as easy prey for emotionally manipulative men. Rape and assault doesn’t usually just happen suddenly. You get emotionally violated long before he touches you.
    We need to have a conversation about how we raise our sons. Is it enough to drag them to mass every morning but to refuse to have open conversations about their sexuality? Do they know what pornography is and why it’s wrong BEFORE they see it? Because parents, don’t kid yourselves, they will. Do your sons know they can come to you for understanding and help if they fall into it and can’t get out?
    This is War my friends, and your chance to arm our children starts at home. Don’t expect a paragraph in a college handbook to make up for parents’ negligence.

    P.S. Throughout my 4 years at the school the majority of the guys (in fact all but that one) had my back. This was especially evident in Rome, when many of the girls who were used to Christendom men were easy targets for the creeps at the bars. Many times the guys would cut their night short to step in and make sure the girls got home safely. The guys had to make sure they themselves didn’t over-indulge in order to stay vigilant to protect the girls. And they never complained, at least that I knew of. It was just what they did. Thank you, men of Christendom.

    1. I write to share my experience both as a student and employee.

      As a student, I was treated with respect and attentiveness by my professors and the college staff. I felt that the professors truly had my interests at heart. They educated me both for success in the career world and assisted in strengthening my faith.

      As a student, I understood the dress code as a method of promoting professionalism in addition to modesty. It was explained that if students dress professionally, they are more inclined to behave in a mature manner, as is the case in the career world. I never personally felt like the women were unduly singled out regarding dress code issues. The college’s modesty standards in fact were very similar, almost identical, to those of a private high school where I worked after graduating from college.

      Likewise, when I attended talks hosted by the female staff in the women’s dorms, I felt they were interesting and uplifting, never disparaging or shaming of women. I never felt that the college somehow advanced the idea that women were guilty if men harassed them or were aroused by them. Men were held to a standard of chastity as well, and similar talks were hosted in the men’s dorms.

      As an employee of Christendom College, I remember my time working for Dr. O’Donnell with great fondness and appreciation. My colleagues at Christendom were kind, respectful, and professional. There were times when I was the only woman in meetings composed otherwise entirely of men, and my perspectives and opinions were always valued and respected by my male colleagues.

      I can personally witness to the fact that Dr. O’Donnell had a vested interest in the well- being of the students and a great love for the mission of Christendom College in its efforts to educate the whole person and restore all things in Christ. I remember my time as an employee at Christendom with gratitude to have experienced a truly Christian working environment.

      With continued prayers and heartfelt sympathy to the students who have suffered at the hands of sexual predators, I find it troubling that so many expect the administration at Christendom College to punish these alleged rapists when there are no criminal convictions and a lack of criminal evidence. It is unfortunate and tragic that these alleged predators, are not receiving punishment for their crimes. However, expecting the college to punish these alleged predators in the place of law enforcement does not seem reasonable or just.

      1. For the sake of clarity, I am a former, not current employee. I am not a formal representative of Christendom College.

    2. But the implications of Christendom’s marketing to parents by touting that few students (that they know of) have left the faith, that there are many religious vocations, that there are so many intermarriages between students and low divorce rates, and that student marriages produce large families (lots of grandkids for you), could easily mislead parents and students into a false sense of security (trust), false expectations, and, likely for some, a level of pressure to get involved with somebody (anybody). Most colleges market to parents things like the quality of the education, professional recognition, the student professional employment rates within a certain amount of time of graduation, or employment in their field of study, or transfer rate, or graduation rate in 4 or 5 years.

      1. They don’t even have statistics on any of that. I know lots of Christendom grads who are atheists and Christendom couples that have divorced. The admin doesn’t keep records of that, so they just pretend the number is zero.

    3. Dear Christendom grad,
      Thank you so much for sharing this! As a current student, I can make my statement about how the college is now, but it means so much to see former students speak up too. Thank you again for your post.
      God bless you.

  56. You spelled Dr. Marshner’s name wrong. If you’re going to slander a man, at least get his name right.
    If I’m understanding your timeline correctly, you asked the professor on Friday to respond to an article you were publishing that weekend. That’s a very short window, even for someone who is clued into the digital era, not to mention for someone who is retired and barely uses email (or telephone, for that matter). Why the rush? Even if your intentions were not malicious here, you don’t come off looking entirely honest.

    1. I personally don’t think that the author is acting with objectivity or nuance when discussing matters that have a large degree of indeterminacy. There may be a political agenda at work.

  57. This week I have learned that I cannot believe anything Simcha writes because:
    1. She voted for Hilary.
    2. She writes for the Jesuit’s “America.”
    3. She does not attend the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.
    (I think I’ll lock myself in my room until the Catholic Crazy goes away. I may be there a long time.)

    1. This begs an important question:

      Is this about Simcha, or about what did or did not happen at Christendom College nearly a decade ago? Once you answer that question, some of the “Catholic Crazy” will magically go away, and you will be left with more of what actually matters.

      It has a name. Substance.

  58. Is it true that they have faculty members there who claim that women should not be allowed to vote? Do we have sources? If that’s true and they have not fired that faculty member, the school isn’t worth anything, as a parent I would never consider it.

    1. Faculty in North America do not get fired for expressing a political opinion. If you don’t like that, perhaps you should move to North Korea.

    2. I have never heard the claim being made by a member of the faculty, staff, or student that women should not vote. I do not know where that claim came from.

    3. There was one back in the day, but he isn’t there now. There is still the one who teaches that women are less rational than men, and that because of this they possess less of God’s image than men. I was furious about it at the time, but most of the students were fine with it. I mean, Thomas Aquinas thought so, case closed!

      1. Having a great deal of experience with women, I can confirm that they are indeed more emotional and less rational than men, especially when it comes to anything romantic. I know girls who I consider very intelligent and better at subjects like math than I am. However the reason that they employ when doing calculus goes completely out the window when it come to family, romantic partners, relationships or basically anything.

        Women simply participate in rationality to a lesser degree than men do. It is just human nature and the emotional side is extremely important as well. A well functioning society uses the strengths and predispositions of its members effectively.

      2. Who said that? I am a current student, so from what you said it doesn’t sound like I would have even met this professor, but I have never heard any of the professors here say anything of the sort. And shame on you for implying that Christendom students follow St. Thomas blindly as doctrine. Last semester a wonderful philosophy professor who greatly esteems St. Thomas made sure to note that St. Thomas was wrong on the issue of the dignity of women, but he wasn’t wrong because he had a disdain for women, but rather because of flaws in Aristotelian biology at the time. Additionally, as much as we have to learn from both St. Thomas and Aristotle, I have never heard any student, male or female, blatantly hold that women are inferior in dignity to men, much less that they are simply “because Thomas said so.”

      3. Additionally, I have never heard any professor or student hold that women are less rational than men, especially because Thomas said so- I would be infuriated, too, if I heard that, but during my time here I have never heard anyone hold that position. I have argued with other students about plenty of topics and issues, including some gender-related topics, but I have never heard that stance about the rationality of women being held.

  59. As a recent graduate if Christendom College (2015), and as a woman, I feel it is my duty to share my experience with you. First of all, rape is always wrong, and it is evident that Adele’s case and several others were handled inadequately and insensitively. That much was well established in part 1. In response to the exposure, Dr. O’Donnell has sent out an email clearly laying out steps the college will implement will take (and have already started taking) to increase greater physical, mental, and emotional security for the students on campus. If your goal was to start the ball rolling to enact positive change, you have already done so! And for that, I applaud you. However, in this latest blog post, you fail to acknowledge these positive steps towards a safer campus, which baffles me. Instead, you seem to continue to point fingers, making it appear that enacting positive change was not your solitary goal.
    During my time at Christendom, I felt safe. There will always be guys who are jerks wherever you choose to go, but I can say with absolute certainty that the majority of young men on campus were genuinely kind and thoughtful of women and each other. Sure, maybe we cracked jokes about the “RDA” rule, but we understood that the rule came from an earnest desire to protect the community. Never did any of my peers feel it created a “rape culture” as you claimed. If it did drive students off campus, that was their adult decision. The college provided healthy communal gathering areas, as well as many campus events for people to socialize and have fun togwther. I am specifically thinking of pubnights, clubs, dances, movie nights, dorm activities, etc. If you chose to go into the dark woods instead to drink cheap booze, so be it. That wasn’t your only option to mingle and socialize though.
    Since I graduated in ’15, the PDA rule has been loosened to accommodate hand holding on campus. Why do you not mention that in your article? If in fact, you do believe that the strictness of the rule contributes to a culture of rape, surely you would rejoice that men and women are now permitted to touch each other in public on campus! Positive changes have already been enacted!
    I know for a fact that there are several other Catholic schools with far stricter rules governing student life. Where are the exposing articles about them? I received a phenomenal education at Christendom and gained so many fruitful friendships there, both with men and women. Yes there were problems and drama during my time there, but how much more there are at schools that freely condone a hookup (read: rape) culture?
    There is no denying that what happened to Adele and the other women you interviewed was so wrong and sad. There is no getting around the fact that the cases were handled poorly. You exposed it and changes are being made. Good. Time to pray for healing and move on.

    1. Hookup culture and rape culture are NOT the same thing. If you mean that both are degrading, fine. But it is Not true that they are the same.

      1. Hookup culture=getting what you want when you want it, which leads to rape culture=getting what you want when you want it.

  60. >> We want the truth. This has always been our goal. We are the Catholic parents of eight daughters. We want to know what life is like on the Catholic colleges we’re considering. <<

    So does this mean that you are examining multiple Catholic colleges or just honing in on one?

    1. I guess Simcha can answer for herself, but I’d be willing to bet that she would most certainly report about other Catholic colleges with similar credible allegations of systematically mishandling issues of sexual assault. What would make you think she has it out for Christendom? Do you know of other Catholic colleges doing the same type of misdeeds that you feel she’s ignoring? If so, you should come forward if you are able!

  61. Thank you Simcha for following up! I find it impossible to believe that the administration has more important things to contend with than responding to a legitimate inquiry about a story that would surely paint them in a very unflattering light. I suspect you would still be waiting for your interview if you had not published. I’m very tired of Catholics who refuse to hold up the Church and its institutions to basic levels of openness and transparency.

  62. >>But the administration that saw no need to institute a formal sexual abuse policy for decades, despite countless stories of sexual assault like the ones we detailed in our essays?<<

    By using the word "countless" are you claiming that you have collected a huge number of stories of sexual assault on the Christendom campus? It's one thing to claim that sexual assaults occur occasionally and the administration doesn't handle them well. It's another thing to claim that they happen so often that they should be characterized as countless. So, if that's what you're claiming, perhaps you can clarify the point.

    1. KC64, Why report facts when you can gin up more interest with inflammatory language, innuendo and insinuation? Agendas can’t wait for facts. They must be published now. Ambiguous assertions are the best friend of shoddy investigative journalism.

      It’s like looking at a family and claiming there were countless instances of molestation over the last several generations and that the molestation was accepted by the family because you found one instance of alleged molestation reported a decade later, and the family took some time figuring out how to deal with it.

    2. Yes, “countless” is sloppy and not good journalism. It strictly means there were too many too count, and a handful of stories does not meet that criteria. “Decades” is provocative too. The school has only been in existence for 40 years, and probably only in last 15 or so years has the college had a large enough student body for it to be a problem. Harassment and assault have exploded everywhere with online pornography. I imagine a lot of institutions are behind in dealing with it. One of the reasons I do not want to go back into teaching is the overwhelming task of trying to come up to speed on this. My daughter had to attend safe environment workshops in order to teach; she said she felt she needed to take a shower afterwards. The training might be necessary, but it is tragic that we have to wallow in the cesspool.

      1. “Countless” is slopy, but so is supposing that more than 15 years ago the student body was too small for it (harassment? assault? rape?). These things only require one perpetrator and one victim.

      2. “‘Decades’ is provocative too.”

        And was a term used by a spokesman for the college in reference to the incident in question (which had happened nine years earlier).

        Just sayin’…

  63. The administration at Christendom may have all the bad motivations attributed to them here, but I am not sure the sequence of events is all that flattering to the Fishers.

    Since a response from O’Donnell would obviously be vitally important to the piece, and they *were* initially floated a phone call on Tuesday, I think the decision to publish at *mid-day* Tuesday is questionable in retrospect. The tactic the Fishers used to try and tease out an earlier reply (“telling them we did not plan to wait”) is all well and good, but as an objective reader I am left to wonder, “Why the rush?”

    I am not interested in who has subsequently “lied” and getting into that back and forth, but I the timeline presented here makes it plausible to conclude that the Fisher chose, for whatever reasons, to publish at 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday when a delay of an hour or two might have yielded the opportunity to speak with O’Donnell first.

    Would the story have lost its punch had it been published Tuesday evening instead of early Tuesday afternoon?

    1. To quote the post: “This account is also false. At no point did anyone from the school tell Damien that O’Donnell would be available to speak between 2-4 PM on Tuesday. They told Damien O’Donnell would call us “before Tuesday.””

      You are a college president who is called on a potentially explosive story. You can’t respond that day?

      1. Andrea,

        I was looking at this passage from the post:

        “Nial O’Donnell then called back and explained Timothy O’Donnell would not be able to call back until Tuesday. Hoping to encourage him to call back sooner, Damien told Nial O’Donnell we did not plan to wait.
        Nial O’Donnell then said he would try and get Timothy O’Donnell to call before Tuesday. He did not specify a time of day.”

        While there is no reason to doubt the Fisher’s claim that they were not told it would be 2-4 p.m., they *were* initially told that the President would be available some time on Tuesday. A call back before Tuesday was never promised.

        My point remains: the Fisher’s had reason to expect that they would be able to get a comment from O’Donnell on Tuesday. They wanted it sooner, but I still do not see why they would not wait until the end of day Tuesday to publish.

      2. Andrea wrote “You are a college president who is called on a potentially explosive story. You can’t respond that day?”

        Yes, some people are so busy they can’t get back to someone for an interview for several days.
        If you don’t believe that, then you clearly have never run an organization with dozens of employees and hundreds of people for whom you are responsible.

        The Fishers insisted on speaking with the President. They should have waited at least until there could be no reasonable suspicion of crossed wires in the game of telephone that seems to have been played here. They didn’t do that.

        Aside from that, the Fishers aren’t journalists working for a real newspaper. They published their piece on a blog. Sorry, but that just won’t get the attention of the President of any organization the size of Christendom. In addition, they are asking for an interview on a piece of attempted investigative journalism, not a mere comment on an article that the president could read ahead of time. That is potentially an extensive time commitment.

        Honestly, I don’t see why they couldn’t have sat on it for another week, if that’s what it took, recording their phone calls to the university to request an interview. At least that way there wouldn’t be a he-said-she-said situation like we have here. As with the Foeckler misquote, my gut says there were crossed wires and miscommunication in the transfer of messages. However, the Fishers don’t come off looking professional by pushing so hard to publish before finishing their investigative work. An interview with the president wasn’t the only thing they missed in their reporting.

        1. Elizabeth Foeckler was quoted accurately and in context. We stand by the reporting we have done, which is why we are striving to be transparent in this instance. Ken Ferguson flat-out made up a quote.

          1. Damien Fisher,

            Ms. Foeckler denied that she was quoted in context. Her friend and sister both claim it doesn’t sound like anything she would say and dispute your assertion. You have yet to produce proof that you did quote her in context, arrogantly preferring to insinuate that she is being dishonest. How are we to know that your notes are 100% accurate and that you didn’t write down what you thought you heard instead of what she actually said? Heck, even if she was herself confused about the question, doesn’t that point more to your interviewing skills than your source? Your source says what you wrote doesn’t reflect on her views. You have arrogantly decided to claim that your notes from a phone interview are accurate but her memory of what she said/meant based on her own self-knowledge and beliefs aren’t accurate reflections of what she said. I’ll take the source’s word over a blogger’s word any day, especially since Ms. Foeckler is backed up by others who know her and say what you wrote doesn’t sound like anything Ms. Foeckler would say.

            No matter what happened, it doesn’t reflect well on you as a journalist. You should have done better. At least keep a tape next time so disputes like this can be resolved.

        2. I have and do work for a large organization and have seen how organizations respond–generally attentively, even if that means having the head of communications see what the lay of the land is before having an official respond. My husband is also administration at a college and CC’s lack of a policy for so long is negligent, to say the least.

  64. I’ve been reading your writing for years and supporting you on Patreon practically since you started it, but I’m done with Patreon. This follow-up to your hit piece on Christendom did it for me. You didn’t even follow basic journalistic standards when writing the previous posts, and this posting which ignores much of what Christendom has done continues to show that you have placed your agenda over the truth.

    1) You linked to the student handbook, but refused to describe what they actually did, which was a complicated process involving starting up a parallel judicial system to handle such cases. In fact, you gave a false impression of what the policy involved when the articles only description of the (potential) contents involved a criticism of how long it took to put the policy together, stating “it takes opening a word document and writing it up: ‘Don’t rape people.’”
    2) You never reported on and continue to refuse to acknowledge the many other efforts that the university has made to help women in rape cases, including but not limited to:
    a) the training of RAs to respond to and report rape and sexual harrasment.
    b) teaching new students who grow up in naivete what rape is and what to do about it in new student orientation (something directly applicable to your primary source who claimed she didn’t know what rape was).
    c) a female staff member now living in residence halls for greater accessibility to help for student victims.
    d) increased emphasis on the forming of healthy relationships with a monthly series of trainings for men and women to formally address this.
    3) The reporting on PDA rules was confused and at points ludicrously non-representative of the actual campus rules, as noted by several students and staff members. Much was made of a no hands-holding policy that isn’t even in effect.
    4) You have accused the university of not even caring about sexual harassment and the touching of women’s private parts, ludicrously claiming that it is an accepted part of campus life, “Current students and alumni say the school has a “boys will be boys” attitude which allows the male students to harass and grab at the women.” This was done without either proof or attribution.
    5) You misquoted and took a source (Ms. Foeckler) out of context, and refused to even admit the possibility of error on your own part. Clearly, the two of you have very different recollections of the interview, but you have never admitted the possibility of error on your part. Given the agenda shown throughout the rest of the article, I find it highly unlikely that Ms. Foeckler was quoted properly and in context, especailly when her quote comes on the heels of an inflammatory statement about the administration having motivation to sweep sexual assault under the rug rather than try to improve.
    6) You don’t give any examples of people who were harassed and who received justice, giving a very one sided account of people’s experiences on campus. I find it hard to believe that you wouldn’t have been able to find even one had you looked.

    Overall, you give near zero credit to the university for the steps they have taken to improve their response and training of staff on how to respond to such rape and sexual assault allegations. You also refuse to acknowledge when they have done right by victims. Lastly, you refuse to acknowledge the overall difficulty of dealing with these types of situations. As a victim of false abuse accusations, I know what it’s like to be innocent and have one’s reputation completely ruined by a community that only wants to believe accusers because false accusations “are rare.” Well, I have a recording where my accuser admitted to perjury and that her accusations were false, but my case would never show up in such statistics because the DA refused to prosecute, and there is no evidence outside of a recording that would never show up in formal statistical records. That is typical, especially in cases of mental illness (and a lot of the women making these false accusations are unstable).

    Throwing out good journalistic standards to pursue an agenda is not what I signed up to support when I decided to give to you on Patreon. I’m done.

    1. Thank you for this clear and thorough analysis. Christendom is an excellent college of rigorous intellectual formation, and a community that fosters a deep faith, rich spiritual life, and lifelong friendships.

    2. I’ve been reading DCNM’s comments for years and even supporting him with little flowers that I leave on his lawn without him knowing, but after this latest little instance of peckish grandstanding I will ABSOLUTELY NOT read another single comment of his.

      Just wanted everyone to know I’m Done with a capital d.

  65. In the journalism world, one of the tactics used to discredit reporters is to ignore them. If one responds, you are thereby claiming they are a legitimate news source. I saw this first hand in the clergy abuse scandal. Independent Catholic newspapers (before blogs) were there at the beginning, breaking these stories. Diocesan offices would not return reporters’ calls or even dignify the published report with a response or rebuttal.

  66. I am furious on your behalf and so disappointed that Christendom has chosen to lie about you and Damiren instead of addressing huge problems in their policies and culture. I’m also disappointed they did not post their “apology” on their website as promised, although that decision makes more sense now that they’ve instead chosen to slam you in the press. This does not reassure me at all that they take women’s safety and dignity seriously.

    1. Yes, they *promised* they would put it on the front page on Thursday morning. But nope. They posted it in the alumni group, and on this blog, but nowhere else – they don’t want anyone hearing of this who hasn’t already. If it’s possible to get to the apology from the main page, I don’t know what series of links I’d have to click to get there.

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