Month: March 2018


School safety, gun control debates continue across country

KNOXVILLE—School safety remains a topic of concern and debate across public and private institutions. Thousands of people across the country have advocated for gun control and school safety, as part of a national campaign sparked by recent shootings like the one at Majory Stoneman Douglas High School.

The reoccurence of school shootings across the country has led many schools to evaluate their safety procedures and emergency plans.

If Johnson University is ever placed in an emergency situation, there are plans set in place to ensure the safety of students and faculty. Each person on both the Johnson Tennessee and Florida campus has a role to play in ensuring the campus remains a safe and secure environment to live and learn.

“There is a plan in the background,” David Legg, JU dean of students said.

This plan includes the Nixle text messaging system.

“In an emergency, it would say ‘this is an emergency, what is happening, what you need to do, where you need to go and places to avoid,” he said.

The directions sent through the Nixle system will be based on the emergency response plan but will also be tailored to the particular situation at hand.

The recent shooting in Parkland, Florida has started a debate across the country about allowing teachers to carry guns. Johnson University, along with other private institutions, prohibits the carrying of firearms on campus.

There is a national debate surrounding how to best protect students from school shootings. Some suggest arming teachers to protect students, and others suggest implementing school violence intervention strategies.

The U.S House of Representatives passed the Students, Teachers and Officers Preventing  School Violence Act of 2018. The STOP act was the first school safety measure to pass in the House since the shooting. The bill passed March 14 and is now being considered by the Senate.

The STOP School Violence Act is a bill to help schools stop violence before it happens by providing grant funding for resources focused on early intervention and school safety infrastructure updates.

If passed, the STOP School Violence Act will provide grant funding for evidence-based training of students, teachers, officers and local law enforcement officers. This training is designed to give students and teachers the ability to recognize and respond quickly to warning signs of school violence.

The STOP School Violence Act will also include funding for:

  •  The development and operation of anonymous reporting
    systems for threats of school violence, including mobile
    telephone applications, hotlines and internet websites.
  • The development and operation of school threat assessment and intervention
    teams that may include coordination with law enforcement agencies and school personnel; specialized training for school officials in responding to mental health crises.
  • Placement and use of metal detectors, locks,
    lighting and other deterrent measures.

According to the congressional record of the bill, grant funding may not be used to provide firearms or firearms training.

One of the debates is whether to arm teachers to aid in protecting students or to entrust local law enforcement and current school safety measurements and prevention strategies.

Legg said that JUTN has developed strong relationships with local law enforcement, ensuring that officers are familiar with the campus.

“In the case of an active shooter, it is important to appropriately respond to law enforcement,” Legg said. “The university maintains good relationships on an ongoing basis with the Knox County Sheriff’s department. It is an ongoing thing on keeping these things [emergency plans] up to date.”

The Florida Campus Safety and Security Committee meets at least quarterly to review the Emergency Management Plan and any safety and security concerns, about the university.

If an active shooter or an armed civilian comes on campus,  university officials encourage students and faculty to implement the Run, Hide, Fight method developed and copyrighted by the City of Houston and approved for public use by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“This Run, Hide, Flight— I want students to know it’s a good thing,” Legg said.” I don’t want students to dwell on it, but it’s about being aware and being prepared.

God gave us a life to live it, but there is nothing wrong with knowing a simple thing like Run, Hide, Fight.”

The Run.Hide.Fight response to an active shooter situation includes the following:

Screen Shot 2018-03-15 at 2.55.27 PM
Run, Hide, Fight procedures as cited from the City of Houston.

JUTN implements the following:

  • Nixle Communication Service.
  • Around-the-clock campus patrols by campus security and an outside security company.
  • Limited access to residence halls (limited to students, approved campus staff and guests).
  • Monitoring of all incoming and outgoing traffic by campus security and an outside security company.

JUFL implements the following:

  • Nixle Communication Service.
  • Keycard access to all exterior doors.
  • Controlled access to campus entries.
  • Residential entrance gate to campus closed and locked at night.
  • Subcontracted, professional Campus Security personnel with day-time and night-time shifts.
  • Campus Safety student workers.
  • Security cameras placed in strategic locations around campus.

Legg said that Johnson University is working diligently to provide the safest learning and living environments around in the midst of gun control debates.

View the Ready Houston Run, Hide, Fight video below for additional safety information.


Your Role in the Story of Johnson: Brandon Perry

KNOXVILLE — Johnson University’s campus has been shaped and molded by hundreds of individuals through the years.

Approaching the 125th anniversary, the Royal Scribe has prepared a video series that will introduce current Johnson faculty and staff, and give them a chance to reflect not only on how Johnson has shaped them personally, but how they have in turn left their mark on Johnson.

Brandon Perry, Men’s Basketball Coach:


JUFL mourns loss of graduate

Cassie Pack. Staff Photo from Kissimmee Christian Church.

KISSIMMEE— JUFL graduate Cassie Pack was killed in a car accident in Kissimmee, FL Sunday. The university mourns her loss and grieves for her family, friends and husband Richard.

Pack was a 2016 JUFL graduate and worked at Kissimmee Christian Church as the office assistant and elementary coordinator. Pack touched many lives in the Kissimmee community and throughout her ministry.
On the Kissimmee Christian Church staff page, Pack’s response to ‘What gets you most excited about serving in the church?’ included:

“For me it is the fact that we are impacting people’s lives on an eternal level. No matter how big or small the task, everything we do here affects the spiritual development of a person.  And that is pretty exciting if you ask me!”

The university asks that all continue to lift up her family and friends in prayer during this time.

There will be a celebration of life service for Pack 1 p.m. Saturday at Kissimmee Christian Church.

One of the many things Pack is remembered for is her saying, “Remember me how I was.”

In honor of this saying, the church would like to honor Pack by remembering her how she was, as she would always say.

To share any photos of her for the service, use #RememberMeHowIWas_CP on Instagram.

It is requested that attendees bring a wildflower or sunflower to leave for the family at the end of the service.

There is also a GoFundMe account set up to offset funeral expenses Here


JUTN’s First Generation Students gathering scholarship fund donations

KNOXVILLE—First-Generation students is a group dedicated to providing assistance and resources to those who are the first in their families to attend college. They work extensively on Johnson University Tennessee campus to see that their fellow students succeed.

Adam Ruvo’s official title may be president, but he sees his role differently than what he says most would associate with that title.

“How I like to think about my job is as more of an encourager,” Ruvo said. “Making sure that as a group we stay together, not just saying I’m the president and I’m going to do things by myself but seeing how we can incorporate everyone in this group.”

Ruvo works with their sponsor, Kelly Estes, to bring about change and community amongst the first-generation students at Johnson University Tennessee.

“I try to give ideas to Kelly. Kelly and I work closely together on what we can do differently. Whether it’s that week or that semester, we work on how we can better the group, and how we can impact more people.”

One of the many challenges faced by first- generation students is finances. Estes and the students have been raising funds with Johnson professors and other organizations to be able to provide scholarships to deserving students.

“It’s really cool, because we didn’t even want this to happen — it just did,” Ruvo explained. “Every year they allocate funds at chapel or they’ll talk to professors about giving to a certain organization. For the past couple of years, it’s been the first gen group.”

Ruvo said the goal is to have enough money to help financially support the first gen students who are having a hard time getting started at the university.

“We’ll have surveys for when you’re first coming in to evaluate first gen college students,” Ruvo said. “That way we’ll have those checklists, so that when we look at it we can say, this student really needs it. Whether it’s a bad background, or some reason that we really feel that we need to give that person a scholarship, we can do that.”

The first-generation students also hold regular events throughout the semester to help their students adapt to college life.

“Every semester we have the registration event for those who need help with registering for classes,”
Ruvo said. “We’ll have the head of the registrar’s office come in and talk to first-generation college students, or whoever wants to join, about how to register. That’ll be done around the week before registration.”

If you are a first-generation student at JUTN and are looking for ways to get involved with this group, contact Ruvo at


Your Role in the Story of Johnson: Carl Bridges

KNOXVILLE — Johnson University’s campus has been shaped and molded by hundreds of individuals through the years.

Approaching the 125th anniversary, the Royal Scribe has prepared a video series that will introduce current Johnson faculty and staff, and give them a chance to reflect not only on how Johnson has shaped them personally, but how they have in turn left their mark on Johnson.

Dr. Carl Bridges, Professor of Bible and Theology:


Johnson hosts Allen Morris Moustache Memorial 5k run/walk

KNOXVILLE—On February 21, Johnson hosted for the first time, the Allen Morris Moustache Memorial 5k run/walk. This event was created to benefit the Allen Morris Memorial Scholarship Fund.
In 2016, Morris unexpectedly died during a softball tournament for his church—First Christian Church in Cookeville, TN where he preached, according to the scholarship’s gofundme page.

David Lee and Tracy Shaner put together this event in honor of Morris and to represent the class of 1988.

“We were roommates for a year and a half,” Lee explains. “One of the best things about Allen was how humble, kind and caring he was.”
Together with this 5k and the gofundme page, the Allen Morris Scholarship fund has raised more than $1,000.

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Lack of women in church leadership concerning to some

By Madison Buchanan and Drew Hudnall 

Royal Scribe Reporters 

KNOXVILLE — With the rise of the female empowerment movement, some people feel that evangelical groups, and some programs at Johnson University, are behind the times.


The Phillips-Wellshimer building stands at the center of the Johnson University Tennessee campus. (Provided by Johnson University)

Some students and faculty have noticed a lack of women in preaching and church leadership roles within the evangelical movement.

JU Seeks to equip students for Christian ministry, and one of the degrees offered at the university is Preaching and Church Leadership.

While Johnson enrolls both men and women in the program, statistics show a disparity in the gender demographics of students.

According to Johnson’s website, this academic year, only 6 percent of the students enrolled in the Tennessee Campus’ Preaching and Church Leadership major are women.

Women comprise 52 percent of the JUTN student body.

Daniel Overdorf, Dean of the School of Congregational Ministry at JUTN, said he acknowledged that some women have been unsure of their eligibility in JU’s Preaching and Church Leadership program.

He said he wants to make sure they know they are welcome.

“Women have played key [biblical] roles,” Overdorf said, as he invoked biblical heroines.

Of women in current leadership roles, he said that the program equips them to preach and teach in a way that is biblical.

“[Who] we are and what we do is a reflection of the church,” Overdorf said.

In 2017, a Relevant Magazine poll revealed that 39 percent of evangelicals are comfortable with female pastors or priests as opposed to 79 percent of all Americans.

April Conley Kilinski, professor and head of the English department at JU, suggests that failure to interpret scripture holistically may share part of the blame for this absence.

“I’m a literature person so I look for the story and the types,” Kilinski said. “Most people would say it’s not biblical,” she said, referring to traditions which seek to limit women’s roles in church leadership.

“‘You need to be quiet, because you’re a woman,’ [they say]. There’s got to be more to this,” she said.

Kilinski said that such a restrictive understanding discounts half the voices within the congregation.

“God does not discount us, so we should not discount us,” she said.

Kilinski said that an example of the work women did in the Bible is that they were entrusted to tell the disciples of Jesus’ resurrection.

“Women are very active in ministry,” she said, “God gives them incredible and important roles.”

Brooke McLane, a JUTN senior, said that certain aspects of women’s roles in the Christian faith seem underemphasized.

“Certain women in the Bible who have led, like Deborah, were praised for their actions, but probably not [as much] for their leadership roles,” McLane said.

Cameron Jefferies, a junior in the Preaching and Church Leadership program, believes that women should be allowed to be pastors in churches, despite his upbringing.

Jefferies said that his grandmother taught him that a woman was not allowed to teach a man within the church walls but could at home.

“I come from a family that did not support [women teaching in the church],” Jefferies said.

He said that he sees his grandmother’s view as unnecessarily divisive, dividing spiritual roles based on sex and location.

Jeffries said that people need to challenge their embedded theology and that not being informed on both perspectives creates barriers.

McLane, who is in her fourth year at JU, said she could only recall one senior sermon delivered by a female.

“I think women bring something special,” she said of women preachers.

“I think they should see where the student body is at, so they can work to change that,” Judi Addison, a senior who also said she appreciates what women offer in preaching roles, said. “I don’t know of any women that are professors in that program, and I think if [there were], women would feel more comfortable.”



Does Black History Month serve its original purpose? Reflections on last month’s celebration

KNOXVILLE — Black History Month, the annual observance marking the importance of African Americans to history, began February first, and Johnson students, among others, have differing views on what the observation means today.

Peniel Joseph, the Barbara Jordan Chair in Political Values and Ethics and the founding director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, recently wrote a piece for CNN entitled  “We need Black History Month now more than ever.”

In his article, Joseph argued that Black History Month is important for three reasons: It provides a lens to contemplate current social issues, it provides perspective into “how civil rights struggles can fundamentally change democratic institutions,” and black history is alive.

“From Barack Obama’s historic election to the galvanizing presence of Black Lives Matter demonstrations, the events, social movements, political breakthroughs, and human drama that make up Black History Month continue,” Joseph wrote.

Joseph’s article reflects the historical perspective on Black History Month. However, the historical perspective is not the prevailing perspective from students at JU.

Shae Pierre-Jean, a Johnson Counseling major from Georgia, who has a rich family history from Haiti, is against the continued observation of Black History Month. The way she sees it, the observation of Black History Month is inadequate.

“I don’t like Black History Month,” Pierre-Jean said. “It doesn’t do justice for black people.”

She said the major contributions of black people to history cannot receive proper acknowledgment in a sole month’s time. She believes that historical African American contributions deserve year-round remembrance.

“I believe that black people should be celebrated every day,” Pierre-Jean said. “I don’t believe that a month does it justice.”

Noah Kropp, a Johnson sophomore, is in favor of Black History Month’s continued observation. From his perspective, the month-long observance is a time for people to unify against racism. As he sees it, until racism is no longer an issue, Black History Month is an excellent time to bring people together.

“I think Black History Month should continue to be observed because racism still isn’t entirely in the past,” Kropp said.

The United States has observed Black History Month since 1970.

The United Kingdom and Canada adopted the observation in 1987 and 1995 respectively.


Johnson students say SALT is ‘worth it’

KNOXVILLE — For students to graduate, Johnson University requires they complete the Service and Learning Together program.

SALT allows students to take their knowledge from the classroom and apply it in everyday situations through voluntary work in the community.

Students are required to complete 120 hours of SALT service for a bachelor’s degree or 60 hours for an associate’s degree.

Max McCoig, a senior majoring in ministry leadership, said he enjoys the SALT program.

“I think that they [the hours] are very easy to achieve and that it helps the students to kind of get their foot in the door for ministry purposes, because I know the majority, if not all of the students here, are either planning to go into the ministry or some sort of like mission or ministry field,” McCoig said. “So I definitely think, at least for me with Young Life, it’s helped me get a foot in the door to progressively come on staff.”

McCoig earns his hours by volunteering with Young Life, a worldwide Christian ministry that connects older mentors with middle school, high school, and college age students in their community.

Although McCoig said it can be challenging to fit baseball, school, his personal life and the volunteer work into his schedule, he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I don’t sleep a lot,” he said. “I’m never caught up on everything that I have to do.”

McCoig said that he likes the adrenaline rush of always having something to get done.

“I’m constantly going, but at the end of the day, I think it’s worth it,” he said.

The SALT course information states that the program is meant to help students identify their gifts and strengths, develop skills, shape a humble attitude and confirm the students’ career decision among other things.

“I think [SALT] matures us, especially in the ministry aspect,” McCoig said. “You get to change lives so it may start as ‘oh I need to get so many hours in so I can graduate’ but then you come back and you realize, ‘wow I’m doubling my hours that I needed because of how much my heart is actually in this ministry or this mission field that I’ve gone into’. You’re changing lives and that makes it all worth it.”

He said that although he believes the hours may be too much for some students in certain situations, for example, students who have to work to put themselves through school, it is not impossible.

“I would tell them [students struggling to find the time] to find something that they’re not doing just for the hours,” he said. “Find something that you’re doing because you enjoy it and that just so happens to give you hours.

“Find something that actually pulls at your heart and that you have a heart for at the end of the day,” he added.

Sam Kelly, a freshman, and business administration major, feels that the requirements are easily attainable, although the rules regarding when the hours can be obtained are strict.

“I think they’re a good idea, honestly, because it does help people get an idea of what it means to volunteer their own time without getting anything in return,” Kelly said. “This also promotes good outlooks on work rather than expecting a reward in return. The sacrifice is worth it.”

Johnson University’s SALT hours have a few rules put in place when it comes to obtaining the hours a student needs to graduate. One of these rules is that a student cannot account for more than 20 SALT hours per semester.

“One hundred twenty hours is a reasonable time for four years of college,” Kelly said. “The only part about SALT hours that I do not enjoy is that I have a set amount I can obtain each year.”

He said that he would like the flexibility to achieve more than 20 hours in a single semester.

“With peoples’ schedules, I feel like we should be able to decide when we volunteer our own time,” Kelly said. “I think Johnson should change to allow us to decide when we get our 120 hours rather than limiting us to a certain amount per semester.”

Since Kelly is a business major, he let us in on why he thinks SALT hours are important to his future after graduating.

“My specialized major is business management, and I eventually want a master’s in entrepreneurship,” Kelly said. “What this means is that eventually I want to open up my own business, and so many people in the business world are so focused on making as much money as possible and running a successful business, and they skip out on the key humane parts of running a business, such as giving back to the community and helping the needy. I think that the SALT hours here are helping me to get into the right mindset to remember that in my future career.”

Abigail Guthrie contributed to this story.