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[LCMSNews] Pastor: Hoax reflects pain on campus
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Wed, 7 Apr 2004 16:37:14 -0500
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April 7, 2004 .................... LCMSNews -- No. 37
Pastor: Student's hoax reflects pain on campus
By Paula Schlueter Ross
The case of Audrey Seiler, the University of Wisconsin sophomore
who faked her own abduction in late March, is just one example of the
deep emotional pain a number of students are experiencing on today's
college campuses, according to an LCMS campus pastor who ministered to
Seiler's family during the four-day ordeal.
And, he adds, most adults would be surprised to learn just how
many college students are hurting.
Rev. Greg Fairow, who serves the University of Wisconsin at
Madison, said he was "stunned" to hear a recent statistic from a
professor at another university who estimated that 20 to 30 percent of
all college students are on medication for some sort of emotional
He acknowledged that "there are far, far more hurting college
students than most people know, that is without a doubt."
Beginning March 28 and continuing until Seiler was found March
31, Fairow led prayers among more than 100 of the student's family and
friends, who had gathered in a Madison hotel to join the search and
rally support. Audrey and her immediate family are members of an
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America congregation in Rockford, Minn.
The last time Fairow talked with Audrey's dad, Keith Seiler, was
April 2, when it was learned that the abduction was a hoax.
Fairow said he told the distraught father to "keep in mind that
the most important thing is still the fact that your daughter is alive.
He confirmed that fact, and said the family is rallying around to get
Audrey all the help that she needs."
Seiler told the pastor that Audrey was hospitalized, and Fairow
asked him to call if there was anything he could do for the family. He
offered Keith Seiler and his wife, Stephanie, the guest room of his home
While he does not know Audrey, nor the details of her situation,
Fairow said he views her behavior as "a desperate cry for help."
"I say that not as a licensed counselor, but as a college pastor
who has worked with many students who desperately needed help," he said.
Audrey, he said, who has been described as practical and an
academic "high-achiever," is likely to have a painful secret, "something
that is buried very, very deep that no one else knows about," and her
inability to express it led her to do something out of character.
Many college students, Fairow said, "don't feel that they have
permission to share their true feelings," and "the pressure that they
have is too great, and they don't know where to turn."
Typical pressures, he says, are related to broken homes,
parental expectations, and decision-making challenges regarding alcohol
and drug use, and casual sex -- dangers that can have serious
A national magazine rated the University of Wisconsin at Madison
as "number one" in the availability of alcohol, and as the number-two
"party school" in the country, noted Fairow. A tavern just a block from
Fairow's university chapel is billed as the ideal place to "hook up"
with someone for the night.
"We have a lot of hurting people here and a lot of paths of
destruction that are too easy to walk down," said Fairow, and he urged
Synod parents and congregations to forward to campus pastors contact
information for their children and members attending college. That way,
campus pastors like Fairow can personally contact the students when they
arrive in the fall, introduce them to the ministry and offer them a
"If parents and churches would connect us with their children, a
lot of heartache could be avoided," he said. Talk to your pastor or ask
the university for the name and phone number of a campus pastor, and
share your student's contact information with him, advised Fairow.
Of course, not all students will want to become involved with
the on-campus ministry, he said. "But what's a shame is when they don't
even know we exist."
If you have questions or comments about this LCMSNews release,
contact Joe Isenhower Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org or (314) 996-1231,
or Paula Schlueter Ross at email@example.com or (314) 996-1230.
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