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Librarian denied tenure over social media post, resigns

Dara Tinius, the former Oklahoma Christian University Electronic Services Librarian, resigned on Feb. 14.

Sophomore Jace Dulohery, who has been a student worker in the library for the past year, said Tinius’s position has yet to be filled, leaving other librarians and student workers to pick up the slack.

“There’s a hole there now. We don’t have the time or resources to fill that position mid-semester,” Dulohery said. “We all miss her—student workers, all the other librarians-–it’s weird not having her there.”

On March 17, Tinius made a Facebook post in which she claimed she was asked to voluntarily rescind her application for tenure due to a breach in faculty social media policy. Tinius was formerly the Oklahoma Christian University Electronic Services Librarian.

The entire text of Tinius’s Facebook post can be found at the end of this article.

The alleged breach in social media policy was a private Instagram story Tinius posted on Jan. 19 which read:

Screenshot of Tinius’s Instagram story post.

“Tonight I sat in a space provided by Dayspring Church for LGBTQ students at OC to share the impact of losing what many of them called the first place they’d been allowed to worship God as themselves. They wept as they spoke of their anguish at lost family members and friends. Feeling afraid and alone. Their anger at once again feeling like something their school has to hide. These kids are kind and generous and brave and any decisions made that cause them more harm are shameful. They have my support forever.”

The event to which Tinius refers in the post was a Safe at Home Town Hall meeting. It was the first meeting the organization held after small chapels were discontinued on Oklahoma Christian’s campus.

Sophomore Moss John said the discussion primarily revolved around how students were feeling in light of the discontinuation of small chapels and about individual experiences within Safe at Home.

“It was kind of like a group therapy session in a way. It was very emotional,” John said. “There were a lot of emotions in the room that night, but they were all healthy expressions of the frustration and pain we’ve been going through.”

On Feb. 9, Tinius was called into a meeting with administrators where she was asked to rescind her application for tenure—which had already been approved by Oklahoma Christian faculty—and submit to a one-year period of probation. If she refused to do so, she was told the application would be denied by President John DeSteiguer. 

Instead, Tinius resigned.

“The school denies it has anything to do with my support of LGBTQ students. I no longer have interest in arguing about what I know to be true,” Tinius said in the Facebook post.

The social media guidelines found in the Oklahoma Christian faculty handbook include a list of nine provisions which encourage faculty members to exercise discretion in their social media usage.

The first provision states Oklahoma Christian views social media use positively and the University “recognizes the desire of many employees to participate in online communities and encourages this form of networking and idea exchange.”

It also notes the guidelines are not “intended to inhibit the principles found in the Statement of Academic Freedom and Responsibility within the Academic Policy Manual.”

The guidelines go on to list policies regarding student confidentiality and exercising good judgment.

The policy guidelines end by stating “Remember that we all choose to live under the OC Covenant which extends beyond the campus boundaries. Your social media presence can be perceived by others as a representation of the community and its values.”

John said they almost cried after reading a screenshot of Tinius’s initial Instagram story for the first time.

“The most pure, good intentions were put behind that story post. She (Tinius) has always been that supportive, but seeing it in words really meant a lot because I know she meant it,” John said.

Dulohery, who was also present at the Safe at Home Town Hall meeting, said he perceived Tinius’s post as a statement of support for students.

“It was really just very pro-student,” Dulohery said. “It’s mind-boggling that ended up landing her in this position where she felt like she had to leave because the environment was so hostile to any sort of outpouring of support and love like that.”

Tinius is an Oklahoma Christian alumna and worked at the University for 18 years.

“It’s hard to leave somewhere that once felt like home even when you know it isn’t good for you,” Tinius said in her post.

The following is the full text of a Facebook post made by Dara Tinius, the former Oklahoma Christian University Electronic Services Librarian.

In February I unexpectedly had my last day at OC. A place I’ve worked since 2004. I am what the French call.. unemployed.

I’ve thought a lot about what I wanted to do. I’ve had a lot of people telling me what actions to take. I’ve had access to lawyers and reporters and while part of me wanted to take that route (and I think it’s totally valid that some should and will) I decided that what I wanted most was ownership of my story. While retribution might feel good and money is certainly needed, what I needed for my mental health and healing is for my story to belong to me. No one owns me or my story or my silence.

I always see a lot of people in Christian organizations (who are usually in leadership positions) say that social media isn’t where we should be debating or litigating grievances. And that’s true in some instances. It’s also an awfully convenient way for people in power to keep those who don’t have access to mouthpieces of authority silent. Be quiet. Don’t be divisive. Go to the source. Even if they won’t talk to you. Even if they twist the truth. Even if they sometimes lie to your face.

At the end of January I posted this private instastory describing an event for LGBTQ students at OC. These students were in pain due to decisions made by the university and they were scared. I’ve been working with Safe at Home at OC for 4 years or so. It has by far been the most meaningful part of my career at OC. In a moment of vulnerability for the pain I witnessed that night I shared my support. Someone took advantage of that vulnerability and a screenshot was sent to those in power. Feel free to screenshot this as well.

I was called into a meeting with little warning with administrators. I was told that I had broken the social media policy and embarrassed and disparaged the school. I disagree with them on that characterization but didn’t fight it. My accuser was not present. I was told that I could voluntarily rescind my application for tenure (already approved by the faculty) and submit to a 1 year period of probation and then I could resubmit or it could go forward and it would be denied by the president. After speaking to my husband I chose my integrity. I resigned.

That meeting was one of the more humiliating hours of my life. Mainly because I ugly cried through the entire thing but also because I know that post isn’t what it was characterized to be. I also know if I’d posted about having a crappy cafeteria or potholes on campus I would not have been called into a meeting. The school denies it has anything to do with my support of LGBTQ students. I no longer have interest in arguing about what I know to be true.

There are a lot of good people at OC who have been actively working to make it a more inclusive place for women, Black and Brown people and LGBTQ students. Unfortunately a lot of those people have also been pushed out or no longer feel comfortable.

It’s hard to leave somewhere that once felt like home even when you know it isn’t good for you.

Aside from a 6 month period after graduation I have been at OC since I was 18 years old. I met most of my friends there, I met my husband there, I got married there. Like most 41 year olds I am not the same person I was at 18. I am glad I’m not.

I had a wonderful time there as a student. It was made for someone like me, a sheltered, white, middle class, CofC kid.

I am sorry to everyone who I went to school with that I didn’t see you hurting. I am sorry I didn’t notice your marginalization. I am sorry that my own good time made me think your negative experiences were overblown or whining. I’m sorry for the times I gave everyone the benefit of the doubt except for those that were in pain.

Thank you to the library staff who have been amazing and didn’t deserve the disruption and extra work this caused. Thank you to my family for supporting me when I felt like I financially let you down. Thank you to the women who have supported me: Mandy, Morg, Riz, Jayna, Miranda, Lailah, Aubs, Anna Jane, Ann, Emily, Jessica, Lauren, Angela, Risa, Summer, Katy and Amy and many others who have reached out.

Print this instastory on my tombstone I guess.

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