Appeals for Mediatio

From Chapter 8

By the end of 2004, things had gotten no better at the seminary. Dear husband John was patient and opened a thousand doors for us to have fun together. But I needed outside help. I made an appointment with Dr. Linda Hertel-Dykstra (the psychologist I was required to see in 2003), informing her that my situation had only gotten worse. She strongly advised mediation.

 I emailed Henry telling him that I had visited her some months earlier “and again on the phone last week,” and that she strongly recommended mediation “conducted by someone who is familiar with neither side and who has gender sensitivity.” He emailed back saying, among other things, “please know that I am not insensitive to what you describe as your pain and anguish. My prayers will be with you today and in the coming days.”


How many days and how many administrators does it take to change a light bulb—or, in this case, to write a formal 12-line letter? Indeed, Henry responded to my request for mediation, not once but twice—his second response very different: 


You ask whether I will agree to mediation. There are no recommendations on the table, no decisions to make. The matter of your reappointment is not before us at this time and that will not be until next academic year. Two years ago you wrote, “I will enter a program of renewal in good faith.” Therefore mediation is not an option. 


He added: “We are there for you, and we wish for you to flourish in our midst.” He goes on to say that he does not understand why I would “speak of punishment of . . . extreme severity.” 


The administrators surely knew the significance of tenure. In 2007, there was a news story about a college in Grand Rapids that was planning to phase out tenure. In light of this, the Calvin College provost Claudia Beversluis commented: “A tenure track appointment is the most highly sought appointment. . . . People will leave other places if they can get a tenure track appointment. It’s longer term job security.” My removal from tenure track was punishment of extreme severity.

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