Not Just a Student, But in Student Government

So, today, a comment was posted on this blog calling into question whether I was a student at Naropa or not… especially since I am the only author here (though I do post testimonies from others from time to time, as long as they are willing to let me do so). I don’t want to buy into the underlying fallacy that I cannot criticize Naropa because I was not a student (which I would probably retort with “I don’t need to have smoked crack to say that crack is whack”) but I was not only a student at Naropa, I was also a student employee at Naropa and a member of United Naropa, the student government, for the year that I was at Naropa. Here I am at the launch party of the Sycamore, which is a school newspaper that was launched by another member of United Naropa on the second of April 2010:

At the launch party of the Sycamore student newspaper, along with then dean of student affairs, Bob Cillo.

Here’s another photo of that party with a closer shot of me, this time, I’m on the left in the white hat (still):

And if none of that happened to convince you, perhaps this might:

Also, I still have a student e-mail address at Naropa (fancy that, eh?) and it is jsideways@students.naropa.edu. So, does anyone still think that I wasn’t a student at Naropa?

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An Ethical Standard at the Boulder Buddhist Scam

The abuse going on with Naropa University and, to a larger extent, Shambhala International is not well documented outside of some arcane references in the annals of Buddhist scholarship and the Beat Poetry traditions. Since Chogyam Trungpa and many of the luminaries that lent their names to Naropa, giving it undeserved credibility, have all but died off (there are a couple still alive) – there is little attention in the here and now about the ongoing abuse at Naropa University. This is the only place (that I know of) where the modern day abuses at Naropa University and Shambhala International is coming to light. I get e-mails regularly from people asking me for help or to share people’s stories. I always make sure that anonymity of those hurt by the abuse is protected unless I am given permission to publish the story and/or the name of the person who contacted me. I believe in exposing Naropa, and I believe Naropa’s fraud and abuse needs to stop, but I am committed to fighting that abuse in a civil manner.

On my twitter feed, I have a follower with someone who claims that they are the target of abuse at Sheridan College in Ontario, Canada. They maintain a website where they document the steps they took to resolve the abuse and what is going on. I do believe wholeheartedly that abusive behaviour in higher education needs to be stopped. Having said that, though, there are some points in her claims where I must question the validity of her assertion. She does not include screenshots of the offending posts on Sheridan College’s message boards and there are links on the bottom of her site are truly… troubling because they lead to sites with very homophobic, hateful and derogatory material. Additionally, some of the content on the anti-Sheridan blogspot website is repeated in the website with the hate speech, leading me to believe that the sites are owned by the same person. I highly doubt that their story is accurate given the derogatory things they publish against gay people and how they blame a Canadian judge for a disgusting act by her ex spouse (who posted naked pictures of her on the Internet) and try to make her seem like a bad person because of it. It is for these reasons why I refuse to link to her site, I feel as though the site is extremely derogatory in nature.

And now we come full-circle to the work I do here at Boulder Buddhist Scam. In the recent months, I have posted content based on e-mails I receive from my readers. I recognize that because of my commitment to presenting an accurate picture of what Naropa is, my site is often a place where people who need to share their experiences can come to. I also recognize that being the only person running a site dedicated to exposing the fraud and abuse of Naropa University opens me up to over-zealous alumni trying to vigorously defend Naropa and it’s programs. I believe in letting both sides have their say and accept feedback from Naropa supporters, as well as it’s detractors (though I don’t post positive Naropa stories simply because Naropa’s admissions office does a pretty good job of spamming those stories). But I have an obligation to those who share their stories with me to be completely ethical. If I am wrong about Naropa, it is my duty to issue a retraction and I do hope that I do my best to offer a fair and reasonable assessment of what Naropa is so that people can make up their own minds. I will not compromise that position by posting hate speech, lies or incorrect information (or sharing links to those who do). I will not succumb to petty attacks or cheap shots because those things get us nowhere.

I hold this standard because this website also gets attention from people applying for admission to Naropa, people we can save from the scam, and current students and staff that have serious concerns about the way Naropa University is run. I need to make sure that they get the information that they need so that they can make their own choice. Since the days I ran The Naropa Biz and up to today, I have always treated this duty with the utmost of respect.

Naropa’s Graduate Psychology Department Has “Invisible lines and expectations you absolutely will cross”

Naropa

Naropa (Photo credit: flowercat)

Currently, I am sitting on a developing story of widespread psychological abuse in the graduate psychology department at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, but today, I was given the green light to share this quip from the Naropa survivor:

The grad psychology school is a whole different shabang…. total mindfuck, and catch22… with invisible lines and expectations you absolutely will cross, and any questions for more information, trying to explain yourself or heaven forbid, correcting them, is met with anger and threat of dismissal.

This is a truly disturbing account, and it is only the tip of the iceberg with this poor man’s involvement. It should give you pause to enter the graduate psychology programs at Naropa University. I will stay on the story and I hope to get you the story as soon as possible, but I have an obligation of confidentiality to those who share their stories with me and I respect that obligation totally.

Trungpa’s Influence Still Remains: On a Lama Getting Handsy

Recently, I received an e-mail from someone who is preparing to leave Naropa, and she shared this tidbit with me.

The monk harassment… was Lama Tenpa… he touched and came onto a student friend of mine, and then really really came on to me hard in a disgusting way. Since we’re both rather assertive women, we thought – who ELSE is he doing this to? we reported it to Student Affairs….. and you know what happened? He was sat down for a chat, then wrote us letters, that we could pick up in the student affairs office [re-contacting the victim, anyone?!] The letter said that he now understands naropa and american university policy…..he’s still teaching to this day.

Don’t you just love it? Apparently, Lama Grabby is still teaching at Naropa University, despite the fact that the school knows about him getting a bit too hands on with students and him admitting it, claiming that he now understands Naropa policy, which apparently forgives sexual assault. After all, when you remember that Naropa was founded by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, a man who knew no boundaries with his followers. After all, when your founder forcibly strips two people at a “seminary party” and marries one of his followers before leaving the monastic order when she was fifteen (he was twenty-nine). Let me make it clear, one of their own publications proudly prints the fact that Chogyam Trungpa was a pædophile who abused his position as a religious leader (though, they don’t use that terminology).

So, who wants to get in on my pool on when the sycophantic alumni are going to start denying that there is anything wrong with Naropa?

Paths and Perception

People have opined that the reason I speak against Naropa has more to do with my pursuit of more… practical fields of study than what Naropa has to offer. While it is true that I am pursuing an Associates degree at the Art Institute of Colorado and I plan to pursue a computer science degree at Colorado School of Mines, the fact still remains that some people would see this as my sole reason for talking about Naropa University.

This is not the case. I have a great deal of love, respect and admiration for the vast majority of the liberal arts. I love Women’s Studies, Philosophy, Anthropology, Communication Studies and Sociology – to start with. I love Yoga, Tai Chi, Aikido and Ikebana. I love contemplative thinking (which explains why I am a member of a new age secret society) and I believe that the liberal arts adds of a lot of life and love to the heart of an engineering student.

What I do not like, or abide, is abuse of any kind. I couldn’t begin to tell you how my heart breaks when I receive an e-mail from someone telling me about their experiences and thanking me for having the courage to speak out. These kind of e-mails also help me to keep fighting the good fight against this so-called “University”.

In fact, I have every reason not to be doing this and it adversely affects my personal life. There are people who believe that I am in the wrong for speaking out against Naropa and I felt bad about exposing Naropa… which is hard when people e-mail you telling you their stories and reminding you of the reason why you started in the first place. I will make it clear now, I will continue to write and speak about Naropa until either they stop the abuse or they lose their licensure.

“The Art of Empathy” at a school with none

I recently learned that Naropa University is going to be holding an event on Friday called “The Art of Empathy” and the presenter is Karla McLaren. I don’t know if she knows abut Naropa or not, but here is the message I sent to her all the same:

Dear Karla,

My name is Jessica Sideways and I recently learned that you have been scheduled for an event at Naropa University on Friday, the 25th of October. I hope that you will reconsider and cancel your appearance at Naropa University because it’s leadership is not empathetic but sociopathic.

Recently, I was contacted by a woman whose child was a student at Naropa a few weeks ago. Her daughter was having seizures in class and the instructor gathered the class in a circle and held a discussion on how the other students were feeling about this, while this student was having the seizure! The instructor told her that he was at peace with the student having seizures. I posted the letter I received on my website, where I expose the fraud and abuses of Naropa University here:

https://boulderbuddhistscam.wordpress.com/2013/10/19/michelle-she-was-seizing-in-class-and-nobody-helped-her/

I do hope that you will reconsider speaking at Naropa University. Most sincerely,

Jessica Sideways

Michelle: The Instructor “was at peace with her having seizures”

English: Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado.

English: Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Like I said in my previous post, I get some shocking stories from people, current students, parents of students, alumni and employees, about the abuses of Naropa. I treat every story with the confidence level that the correspondent desires because I am more interested in helping people overcome the abuses of Naropa University than to create compelling content. I will never betray the confidence of anyone who sends me a genuine e-mail. A few weeks ago, I received this e-mail from a parent and I have been sitting on this story until the parent was able to get her daughter out of Naropa. Here is Michelle’s story:

I am a parent of a current, until Friday, student. She has been there exactly 4 weeks. It’s been a nightmare! She transferred from Eastern Virginia Medical School. 18 credits did not. They started her out as an M1 but she transferred as an M3. Already seeing patients in Virginia. My daughter has seizure disorder. For the most part it was controlled however upon arriving in Denver the disorder became worse. We were able to get it under control but not before she had had a seizure in a class where the instructor has 18 students gather in circle around her and while holding hands discuss how this made them feel.

Second series of seizures were the following week but this time the same instructor did not allow her to leave. Her apt. being directly across the road. The second seizure in this series resulted in the instructor telling my daughter it was okay. He was at peace with her having seizures. It took 15 minutes for someone to call an ambulance.

So far this has resulted in violations of the disability act.

Now the disability worker informs her this past Friday of her rights. Missing 5 classes would normally result in failure but depending on the teacher, under this disability program, she may be allowed extra time to catch the work up. Keep In mind she has already had these classes. They are M1 classes.. The disability worker does make it clear though that if they had known the severity of my daughters seizures then they would not have accepted her.

Violation of the disability act.

The disability act is federal. Acts being passed by congress makes it federal.

She is currently attempting to withdraw medically so that as pit was put to her, she could not run the risk of being “kicked out” on misconduct. Poor wording on their part. However, true to form, this institution which strongly suggested this is making this difficult as well.

So you will know, I feel this institution believes they have a young person that they can push. I however taught school for over 22 years in Alabama and some of that tenure I taught law. I now have a team of attorneys on stand by as we’ll as my Federal contacts and those in the accreditation department.

I’ve written this as to not redeem my child, but let others know what this institution is like.

Okay, so the instructor has a group of eighteen students sit around this poor student, as she is seizing, and talk about how this made these students feel. Do I really need to tell you how incredibly fucked up this position is? The fact that these students could sit around a student and not phone the emergency services and try to get her the help she needs, instead focusing on your own spiritual path. Let me make it perfectly clear, this woman’s story is credible because of the fact that when I was at Naropa, people there did similar things which tends to give me pause. As for the comment that the instructor was “at peace” with her having seizures, it boggles the mind that this instructor would not be terminated immediately. In the real world, this instructor would have been off the campus ASAP. In the “school” that Trungpa built, however, they practice detachment from the real world at the cost of real human beings.

Naropa is not a disability-friendly school. All three of it’s campuses and it’s student housing apartments present accessibility challenges, but none more so than the Arapahoe campus. Only two of the buildings on the campus are really wheel-chair accessible, the Lincoln Building has no elevator and it’s classrooms are blocked by stairs, including some very steep stairs in some instances that block access to the Lincoln Lecture Hall. I have constantly wondered how Naropa can legally get away with snubbing the disabled. But to threaten to kick her out on misconduct because she is disabled and refusing to accommodate her needs is illegal. To tell her that if they knew about her disability, they would not have accepted her as a student is illegal.

When I talk about the abuses of Naropa University, usually I talk about the lack of ethics it takes to advertise an anatomy class as being scientific when it has alternative medicine woo attached to it. But abuses like this add a darker dimension to the cult-like nature of Naropa University, where empathy and doing the right thing are an after-though, if they are thought about at all. When someone is having a seizure, I don’t gather the other people around me to talk about how it made me feel while the person seizing is still in need of help. I call a fucking ambulance and that is what the people here should have done. My only question that I would have for these students is… why didn’t you call for help?

I hope Michelle continues to pursue legal action against Naropa University and I am more than happy to continue providing coverage on this story as it develops. Naropa University should be held accountable for it’s fraud and abuses.