GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) -- Just a week before graduation, 23 year old Chris Peterman should be preparing his cap and gown. Instead, the Bob Jones University student says he's fighting for the degree he believes he's earned, and he believes the popular television show "Glee" may be partly to blame. "I wanted to go to Bob Jones, I loved Bob Jones," the Senior says. Peterman admits when he signed up for the conservative Baptist school in 2006, he knew exactly what he was getting himself into. He also says he understood the school's strict set of standards, rules known for banning everything from sex and smoking, to watching television on campus. "I did agree to that," he says. "For 3 years, I lived under it, and I was fine."
Peterman says the problems began several months ago, after he formed a group called "Do Right BJU" to support sexual abuse awareness on campus. The group held a silent protest in December, and received widespread attention. "That's all when my problems started," recalls Peterman.
When he returned to campus following Christmas break, the Senior describes being "harassed" by university administrators, who instructed him to attend weekly meetings with the Dean. Shortly after that, Peterman claims he began receiving demerits, or points, against his record for breaking rules outlined in the student handbook. Students are allowed 150 demerits, before being suspended from school. "At first, it was for small things, like not shaving, or arriving late back to the dorm."
In April, the infractions escalated after Peterman says another student spotted him watching the FOX television show "Glee" at a Starbucks off campus. Peterman says he's always been a big fan. "I love Glee. I've watched it from the beginning." Shortly after the incident, he was called into the Dean's office and given 50 demerits, putting him dangerously close to the school's 150 demerit limit. Peterman says the Dean told him the content of the show was "morally reprehensible" and against the school's values. "It was because I was watching Glee," he says. "If I had been watching basketball, he says that would have been fine."
Seven on Your Side contacted the school, and we were told Peterman's problems have nothing to do with the TV show. School spokesman Carol Keirstead says while students are allowed to watch television off campus, certain content, like some featured in "Glee", would not be considered appropriate. Keirstead released a written statement saying: "We expect students to obey the student covenant in the spirit and the letter. Our goal is to help him succeed, and we've done everything we can to help him succeed."
After contacting the department of Education and the university's accreditation agency for help, Peterman says he received his final demerits, effectively suspending him and kicking him off campus. The reason on his demerit list reads: "Insubordination/Disrespect".
The 23 year old says he will appeal, and still has faith he'll receive that degree. "God is in control. God has a plan for this."
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