Bill and Patsy Freeman, along with their followers, have settled in to a corner of the Whitworth community. Their past is sketchy, to say the least, and the trail of concerns, complaints and warnings that have followed them must not be ignored.
A Christian group that has no strong ties to any outside organization, the Freemans and their loyalists have made Whitworth their latest chapter in a history of church splits, broken marriages and troubled lives. Bill and Patsy Freeman are obviously here for more reasons than to enjoy the sights of north Spokane.
The facts are pretty clear, but how do we react?
Whitworthians should recognize the unprecedented opportunity it we have right now. We have the chance to react carefully, cautiously and calmly.
We already know the truth, here's the chance for grace: The Freemans are used to being on the defensive. They have been cornered for much of their lives. Now that they're in a corner of Whitworth, reacting to the Freemans with rumors and gut reactions will get us nowhere.
Ostracizing or shunning the group is essentially taking a move from the Freeman's own playbook - everyone on the "outside" is wrong and should be avoided. There's room to get to know people in the Freeman group while recognizing their past.
A side note: It would be appropriate to point out here that The Whitworthian's article on the Freemans is not intended as an attack, but rather as an expose on the group. It is unfortunate that after repeated requests for an interview, the Freemans were not willing to offer their side of the story. Nonetheless, students should use the information in the article to have a context for understanding the Freeman group, not as ammunition for an attack.
A century ago, "The Whitworthian" published its first newspaper, in which the founding editors expressed their "gratitude to those through whose encouragement and support, the addition of this paper is made possible."
Later in the editorial, the staff said their mission statement was to "achieve ... a knowledge of our social environment, a sense of individual freedom and responsibility, and an ever present consciousness of our relationship to all college institutions and functions."
The fact that the student newspaper has hit 100 is a testament to the fact that Whitworth has accepted - or, in some cases, tolerated - an entirely student-run newspaper that has given a voice to Whitworthians for the past century.
Hopefully, in the next 100 years, "The Whitworthian" will continue to play its vital role at Whitworth while staying true to the goals that our founders had in mind.