When an event is advertised as a “free concert” or “dishing on everything from guys to fashion,” no one expects to hear the name “Jesus”. In fact, people have gotten upset about it.
AFTERdark and Girls’ Night Out, two recent campus events, were not advertised as outreaches, and many people were surprised when the Christian gospel was presented to them, students said. However, the university isn’t making any plans to change the way future events like these are advertised.
“Both of those events I didn’t see as a problem at all because I feel like you could easily figure out what it was just by looking at the advertisement,” Brad Thompson, a TCU Student Activities advisor, said. “When I saw the advertisements, I knew who was putting it on. To me it was obvious.”
Briana Wucinski, a freshman who attended AFTERdark, a free concert that featured Christian inspirational speaker Joe White, said she didn’t know the event had anything to do with outreach.
“My biggest surprise was definitely when he brought out the cross … I’m not a huge Christian, and so that was very abrupt, in-your-face Christianity,” Wucinski said.
The big surprise was part of the plan, said sophomore AFTERdark coordinator Katie Runyon, but no one was trying to hide anything.
“We kind of wanted it to be more of a mystery,” Runyon said. “That was the targeted market plan … but in no way was the truth meant to be hidden.”
George Low, an associate professor of marketing, said there was nothing illegal about the way AFTERdark and Girls’ Night Out were advertised, but the method used does raise an ethical question.
“Whether they intended to mislead or whether they didn’t intend to mislead, if they in fact misled, then that becomes an issue,” Low said.
Kim Raines, a sophomore AFTERdark coordinator, said she expected some adversity to the message being presented.
“The reason we brought it to TCU is because we believe its truth,” Raines said. “We knew that people weren’t going to agree with that, but we didn’t think our advertising would be what would offend them.”
Melissa Crutchfield, a junior who helped bring Girls’ Night Out, a night of girl-talk with inspirational speaker Marian Jordan, to campus, was surprised that women found the event offensive after the speaker began to share her Christian testimony.
“Marian was just a speaker brought in to TCU to share her life story in hopes that it would relate to girls our age, and meet them right where they are,” Crutchfield said.
As for the way Girls’ Night Out was advertised, Crutchfield and the other event coordinators just used what they were given, she said.
Low said while fault lies with the coordinators for not being blunt about their intentions, the students also have some responsibility.
“I think part of it is a certain amount of student naivete, if you will,” Low said. “If you’re going to go hear a band entertain after a football game, you’re probably going to find out what the band’s music is before you go. Same kind of thing here.”
In the face of some admittedly upsetting and even harsh responses, Crutchfield, Runyon and Raines said they remain optimistic about the effect their events will have on the campus.
“Overall, I feel as though a movement is occurring on campus of students who are passionately living their lives to show others the true love and hope that is found in Jesus Christ,” Crutchfield said.