The university itself does not receive any federal funds, said Shorter spokeswoman Dawn Tolbert. Federal student loans and grants are paid directly to students, she said.
“The personal lifestyle statement does not have bearing on whether or not a student receives a federal loan or grant because the money goes directly to the students,” Davis confirmed.
The personal lifestyle statement requires that personnel agree to four principles: be loyal to the mission of Shorter University, do not engage in the use and sale of illegal drugs, do not view premarital sex, adultery and homosexuality “as acceptable” and refrain from the use of alcohol in the presence of students and in public.
In 2009 the university did receive $42,358 in reinvestment and recovery funds, but again Tolbert said those dollars went directly to pay students in the work-study program.
“The money went to on-campus jobs for students, which is part of their financial aid,” Tolbert said.
The first item in the principles of personal conduct, which is part of the lifestyle statement, requires all faculty and staff to be loyal to the mission of Shorter University as a “Christ-centered institution affiliated with the Georgia Baptist Convention.”
The school receives 4.2 percent of its $50 million budget from the Georgia Baptist Convention, roughly $2.1 million each year.
“Our relationship with the Georgia Baptist Convention is that they are the sole member of our corporation. We are Shorter University Incorporated. We are owned by them,” Tolbert said.
While the GBC elects Shorter’s trustees, Tolbert emphasizes that once board members are elected, the trustees are completely independent.
“The GBC cannot tell them what to do. Any actions taken by the board are the board’s own and not that of the Georgia Baptist Convention,” Tolbert said.
The board of trustees approved the lifestyle statement and a statement of faith highlighting the school’s beliefs last week.
Several former Shorter University employees contacted by the Rome News-Tribune could not speak on the record, saying they signed confidentiality agreements when they left employment with the college.
A Rome News-Tribune reporter who attempted to speak with students was told students were asked not to speak to the media at the beginning of the semester.
Tolbert emphasizes that her office has never told any students they cannot speak to the press, and all “official” comment comes through Shorter’s public relations office.
“As posted at the front gate, Shorter has a policy that all media representatives coming on campus should check in with the PR office,” Tolbert said.