GAINESVILLE, FL–In an address before three fellow residents of Tenney Hall's fourth-floor west wing Tuesday, University of Florida sophomore Jeff Arnell, 18, issued a warning about the Christian in 462.
"If you see the guy who lives in the single down at the end of the hall, get away," Arnell told Troy Rasbach, Pete Marquez and Jonathan Wilkins, who had assembled in Arnell's room to watch SportsCenter. "He'll totally corner you and start telling you about Jesus."
According to Arnell, the Christian, Ocala, FL, elementary-education major Matthew Leske, not only attends church on a regular basis despite a lack of parental supervision at school, but also voluntarily goes to campus prayer meetings and other Christian youth-group functions.
Arnell said he first suspected his dormmate's faith in the Lord last Friday.
"I was punching in my door combo when he came up to me and asked me for help with his e-mail," Arnell said. "So I go to his room, and I'm setting up his UF campus account, and I start to notice all this weird stuff on his walls, like this cross on his bulletin board and this poster that said, 'I am the light and the world' or something. He even had one of those metal fish symbols like you see on cars. Then, when it came time to choose his password, he types in 'Corinthians,' and I was like, 'Oh, shit, get me out of here.'"
Several hours after the encounter, Arnell was once again approached by Leske, this time in the dorm's study lounge. "He came up to me and thanked me for helping him with the e-mail and everything. I was like, 'Hey no prob, man,' but he kept acting all super-nice to me," Arnell said. "I was definitely getting nervous."
After talking about his class schedule for approximately 90 seconds, Leske invited Arnell to attend a Bible reading at his church, the New Life Assembly, on Friday. When Arnell declined, saying he had other plans, Leske invited him to drop by the church's New Student Welcome Picnic on Sunday.
"I said I'd try to make it, but I told him I didn't know for sure if I could because I had a paper due the next day," said Arnell, who was raised Christian himself but is not "all weird about it." "If that guy knocks on my door Sunday morning, I'll be seriously freaked."
After becoming trapped in an excruciatingly long conversation about the importance of letting Christ into their hearts and minds, Rasbach and Marquez concluded that "something must be done." Not only will Leske's presence expose Tenney Hall residents to proselytizing, they said, but it will also make them more vulnerable to punishment for breaking dorm rules, including those pertaining to observation of quiet hours, drug and alcohol use, and visitations from females after midnight.
"That guy in 462 better not rat us out to the R.A.," Rasbach said. "We're gonna have to really watch it now."
The four dormmates who assembled in Arnell's room have developed a Christian-avoidance strategy, one which includes "scoping out" the fourth-floor west wing for the possible presence of Leske before discussing the purchase of alcoholic beverages; avoiding Leske in the dorm's dining hall and study area; and agreeing to "rescue" each other from conversations with the Christian in the event of accidental contact.
"We have got to be majorly careful," Arnell said. "He'll suck you in, dude."