Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Since 1907
Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Calvin students and faculty shocked, left with questions in the wake of Boer’s resignation

Campus wakes up Wednesday to vandalism about Boer incident
Calvin Media Archive
Interim President Gregory Elzinga addressed faculty on Tuesday and will speak to students in a town hall on Thursday.

Note: This story has been updated with additional details.

Students, staff and faculty were left reeling on Tuesday in the aftermath of allegations that led to the resignation of Calvin University’s 12th president, Wiebe Boer, who was only midway through his second year in the role.

People across campus emphasized the sudden, saddening nature of the announcement and are worried about the implications for the university’s future.

“I was very shocked,” Visakuo Tsurho, a senior pre-med student told Chimes. Nearly every student and faculty member Chimes spoke with echoed that statement, with reactions such as: “I did not expect anything to happen at all,” and “it was really surprising.” 

The Calvin community is all the more surprised and disappointed because of Boer’s personal emphasis on student engagement and institutional momentum

“I felt such deflation of what had been such great energy we had finally built up,” Jamie Smith, professor of philosophy, told Chimes

Students are struggling to reconcile the “likeable” president who attended sports games and theater performances — while also supporting international student populations — with the news of his resignation. “Everyone liked him,” Cami Mauriello, a sophomore involved in Calvin Theater Company (CTC) told Chimes. “He seemed to be doing a lot of good things for the school.”

Smith opened his 8 a.m. class with an opportunity to talk about the news of Boer’s resignation, and he was surprised at how “devastated” students seemed to be. “Students clearly identified Wiebe Boer with Calvin, in some ways, and this toppling — I think it’s really unsettled them,” he said. 

According to Mauriello, “No one’s happy that he’s leaving, but there’s a lot of people who don’t care and a lot of people who do.”

Wednesday morning, the words “justice for victims of Boer’s sexual harassment”  were found spray-painted under the science building sign facing Common’s lawn. Spray paint found by the entrance to Johnny’s Cafe said “students deserve the truth.”

Messages were chalked on the sidewalk as well. The chalk was cleaned off the sidewalk between 8 a.m. and 8:40 a.m. Campus Safety was attempting to remove the spray paint from the science building around 9:15 a.m. and again at 1:15 p.m. 

Beth Dylewsk, a sophomore on the swim team, said students have been using humor to cope. Calvin Confessions, an anonymous Instagram account, has been publishing jokes, memes and student reactions since the news broke Monday.

Tsurho and Zoe Schwendemann, who are both missionary kids, are worried about media attention and how it might affect Calvin’s reputation. Schwendemann said she thinks that “with this situation, it’ll be a lot harder to recruit missionary kids.” 

Questions about the next president abound. Tsurho and others wondered if the emphasis on growth, construction, sports and enrollment will be maintained by the new president, while Mauriello and Dylewsk are worried about the new president’s views on human sexuality.

“I’m really nervous because he [Boer] seemed to be actively engaging with the queer community at Calvin and we have no guarantee his replacement will,” Mauriello said. Boer was going to visit Wednesday’s sexuality and gender awareness club (SAGA) meeting, according to Dylewsk, who is involved with the club. 

Many students and faculty members expressed sympathy for the Boer family as well as the person who submitted the report. Smith and Darrel Rohl, professor of history, both told Chimes they appreciated that it seemed the institution took the allegations seriously and moved quickly to address them. 

Faculty and students received two very similar emails about Boer’s resignation at the same time on Feb. 26, and Calvin published a press release less than an hour later. That is still largely the furthest extent of the information communicated to the Calvin community. 

Several students are looking for more information and clarity in communication, while others appreciated succinctness. Senior writing student Luke Zietse said he would have preferred no information to the information he received because the “vagueness of the email [from the Board of Trustees]” was unhelpful, while junior Levi Huizenga said that the email emphasized the board’s competence. “We should probably trust the board,” Huizenga said.

The university hosted a well-attended closed town hall for faculty and staff on Tuesday afternoon. Campus Pastor Mary Hulst and two board members, along with Interim President Gregory Elzinga and Vice President for Engagement Sarah Visser all spoke. 

 Faculty who attended the session told Chimes the floor was not opened for a question and answer time, and administrators provided little new information. However, Sarah Visser was “really good” as she guided attendees through prayer prompts that faculty members worked through with people around them, which was “a little weird, but kind of incredibly effective,” according to one attendee. 

The town hall presentation was “highly scripted” according to a faculty member who attended, and the meeting conveyed the message that “the board is present and here. There is a strong Cabinet that can step up to the job and a president who understands what needs to be done,” an attendee told Chimes.

Cabinet member, biology professor and faculty senate chair David Koetje told Chimes that “We have the structures in place for us to proceed and to be able to work things out. There’s a process that’s involved and the process is being done as fairly and as judiciously as possible.” 

In the midst of campus confusion and concern, Tsurho said he hopes current and prospective students realize Calvin is more than its figurehead. “Calvin is an institution that’s great not just because of the people who are here, and not just because of one person. It’s the mission that we have,” he told Chimes

Interim President Elzinga will speak to students in a meeting scheduled this upcoming Thursday, Feb. 29, at 3:30 p.m. in the chapel.

Chimes’ Ethan Meyers, Lauren Nyong, Liana Hirner, Beck Gardner, Ewan Parker, Celine Sidharta, Ashley Hamons and Nolan Cowan contributed to this report.


This story has been updated to reflect the change in meeting location on Thursday. 

View Comments (4)
More to Discover

Comments (4)

All Calvin University Chimes Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • E

    Eleanor LeeMar 2, 2024 at 9:29 am

    Great reporting, Chimes team! Proud of and grateful for you all.

  • D

    Debra RienstraMar 2, 2024 at 8:43 am

    Thank you, Chimes staff, for rising to this difficult moment and covering this story. This is extra work for you both in terms of time and emotional labor. The community needs you and you are stepping up. Thank you.

  • E

    Elizabeth SherkFeb 28, 2024 at 3:37 pm

    IS THERE A ZOOM LINK FOR MEMBERS OF THE HILLCREST ALUMNI TO HEAR THE CONVERSATION ABOUT THE DISCLOSURE THIS WEEK RE. Prof. Wiebe Boer’s resignation due to inappropriate behaviour that may be going on right now?

  • E

    EmmaFeb 28, 2024 at 12:27 am

    Chimes staff, you rock! Thanks for working with what information you do have to keep us all informed!