In August of 2020, amidst the COVID Pandemic, I started attending Gordon College—a private non-denominational Christian college in Massachusetts. For a long time, Gordon had heroically defied the Culture Wars. But what I found was that it was now effectively capitulating. The problem: the student body.
The school made national headlines in 2014, when it requested exemption from Obama’s Executive Order that prohibited federal contractors from discriminating based on a person’s sexual orientation. Gordon resisted this government encroachment on religious liberty, and for doing so its reputation was smeared. The Salem town Mayor, Kimberley Driscoll [Tweet her]—now the Democratic lieutenant governor of Massachusetts—terminated the school’s contract to manage the city's Old Town Hall [Salem mayor, Kim Driscoll, cuts ties with Gordon College over gay rights, by Paul Leighton, Salem News, July 10, 2014]. The New England Association of Schools and Colleges also threatened Gordon, giving the school one year to decide over whether it should abide by its Christian principles and lose its accreditation, or acquiesce to the Woke mob [Gordon College’s Accreditation at Risk Over its Biblical Stance on Human Sexuality, by Brent Robison, Massachusetts Family Institute, September 18, 2014].
Luckily, in the end, Gordon kept its accreditation. But it didn’t escape the communist assault on religious liberty. Recently Gordon settled a five-year-long lawsuit with Margaret DeWeese-Boyd, who sued the school after allegedly “denied promotion to Full Professor on the basis of her criticism of the college’s policies regarding homosexual practice and sexual orientation” [Second Professor Sues College related to LGBTQ+ Stance, The Tartan, September 14, 2017]. In March of 2021, the Massachusetts Supreme Court rejected Gordon College’s petition to apply for the ministerial exception [SJC: Christian college can’t claim former social work professor was minister in legal dispute, by Travis Andersen, Boston Globe, March 5, 2021]. In March 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court also denied Gordon’s petition [SCOTUS Won’t Hear Gordon College v. DeWeese-Boyd, Leaves Door Open for Future Litigation, by Liam Siegler, Gordon Review, March 5, 2022].
As a kid from rural Maine, my experience at Gordon was a microcosm of these national battles over culture. Leading up to the first semester, I got caught up in debates surrounding Transgender Rights and the Black Lives Matter movement. Amidst the Floyd Summer of riots, I saw my peers revolting, participating in protests, Blackout Tuesday, and social media campaigns. Incoming students began posting infographics like the infamous “racism pyramid,” which claims that “colorblindness,” “Columbus Day,” and “Make America Great Again” were all forms of “covert white supremacy.”
Digital activism turned into physical demonstrations.
As the looting, arson, murder, and Leftist pageantry continued unabated, I started to point on social media to the violence that was occurring in cities across the country. But I started receiving messages over Instagram, saying that my opinions weren’t welcome at this time, and that we needed “allies” rather than “opponents.” Unsurprisingly, I was also accused of being a “white supremacist.”
During this period, I started reading John Q. Publius’s 2020 book, The Way Life Should Be?: The Globalists' Demographic War on America with Maine as a Microcosm which documents the concerted effort made by globalists and NGOs to transform my home state of Maine’s demographic composition. I came to the realization that demography is destiny.
That influenced a speech I gave at the college Debate Club during the first semester, discussing immigration. I warned that, if Biden were to become president, America would transform into a One-Party state, due to the flood of immigrants which disproportionately vote Left.
The Debate Club was receptive to my ideas, but worried that they could be taken the wrong way. The president reaffirmed the standard Gordon view on race: “God shows no partiality” (Romans 2:11). He also stated that Identity Politics oftentimes creates more problems than solutions.
The issue I had, and still have, with this view, is that no matter how much you refuse to see race, race will always see you.
As far as the communist Left is concerned, even colorblindness is racism in disguise.
There is no escaping the Woke mob and its persecutions, regardless of how well intentioned you are.
Subsequent incidents at Gordon ended up proving this point.
Shortly after the school year began, a student ended up causing an uproar on campus after a resident hall was “vandalized” with tape that read: “All Lives Matter.” Students marched and blamed the-then Gordon President Michael Lindsay for not taking the “act of racism” seriously enough. During the protest, students kneeled and held a moment of silence.
Despite Gordon’s reputation for being a conservative college, a significant portion of the student body was passionate about this Progressive cause. During 2020, the Left had successfully gaslit many well-meaning Christians into thinking that they were racist without even realizing it.
After the “racist” incident in September (n.b., saying All Lives Matter!), student groups hosted a series of workshops to “educate” the student body on American “racism,” student activism, and “allyship.” Tensions reached a fever pitch when another incident occurred [Racist Incidents Continue At Gordon, by Samara Barrett, The Tartan, November 2, 2020].
In the laundry room of one of the residence halls, somebody wrote “F**k N***ers” in black sharpie on a T-shirt.
A protest was held at Frost Hall, calling for a better response from Gordon to combat racism on campus [Students Protest College Response To Racial Slur, Occupy Frost Hall, by Collin Hall, Samara Barrett, The Tartan, November 3, 2020]. Multiple official statements were sent out following this event, promising changes to the curriculum—a stronger focus on “racism,” new hiring rules aka anti-white discrimination and so forth. But the students continued changing Gordon from the inside out, plastering BLM signs all over campus, and holding gatherings to discuss race.
As the administration began to capitulate to the demands of the student body, a group of Gordon parents wrote a private letter to the Board of Trustees, detailing their concerns over the college’s response to “racism”:
Academically, these movements are seriously limiting debate. A never-increasing range of opinions, even questions, are not tolerated. People espousing forbidden views are shamed and harassed. The strategy is clear. Shut down all dissent from the preferred narrative. How can faculty and students pursue truth in this atmosphere?
[Gordon Parents Clarify Letter to Board of Trustees, Critique the Tartan, by Deborah Cumbee, The Tartan, February 9, 2021]
Even after this parental backlash, however, Gordon did not stop pandering to the demands of the Woke mob.
In the spring of 2022, former adjunct professor Marvin Daniels (who is black) was accused of victim-blaming and being “transphobic” during a College chapel sermon. Because of strong reaction from student activists, the school decided to remove him from his three upcoming chapel services.
Following the incident, a Solidarity event was held at the College chapel where six homosexual students shared messages and poems about their identity and sexual harassment experiences:
For perhaps the first time in Gordon’s history, LGBTQIA+ students stood on the stage of the chapel in front of the president of the college and spoke about the pride and beauty in their identity.
[Gordon Removes Deep Faith Speaker after Controversial Remarks on Gender and Harassment, by Kate Walker, The Tartan, February 15, 2022]
Gordon may think it’s respecting the “democratic” will of its student body, and honor the fact that “56% of students say it is moral for Christians to be in same-sex relationships” [Majority of Gordon Students Find Same-Sex Relationships, Marijuana, Morally Acceptable , by Colin Hall, The Tartan, January 2, 2021].
But it’s not respecting the wishes of a tolerant community. Rather, they are emboldening a group of students who are intolerant toward any Christian who doesn’t subscribe to their view on same-sex marriage.
I was one of those students. Early on in the semester, I was attacked by the student-run LGBTQ account on Instagram. Without warning, one day an anonymous student—somebody I didn’t even know—posted a paragraph about me for the whole student body to see. The post called me out by name, and claimed that I was “extremely homophobic and transphobic.”
After that, I started to see notice the uncertainty and fear that was manufactured by America’s Ruling Class during the pandemic sowed the seeds of a social virus, one that was plaguing the entire country’s youth.
Gordon, like most schools, enforced strict social distancing rules and mandatory masking. The “new normal” created so much fear and tension on campus that students began to see each other as “potential contagion vectors” and carriers of a new virus that was just as dangerous as COVID—whiteness.
The circulation of this idea that whiteness was, and is, an epidemic plaguing every public institution—including Gordon—gave free license to activists on campus who were hellbent on fighting what they claimed was “racism.”
Shortly after the semester ended, when everybody had gone home for the winter, I learned that a Gordon College Asian Republican shared a photo of a letter he had received while he was away in the library. It read:
Fu** you. Fu** ACB. Fu** Donald Trump. You Racist piece of sh**. You better watch your back. We’re coming for you. Now you’ll know how it feels to always feel like you need to look behind your shoulders. We’ll get you when you least expect it. You and your pretty little girlfriend. Since you’re so against abortion, you better hope she doesn’t get raped and pregnant. Otherwise, you’ll have to keep the baby. Imagine if your new little church in the mall gets burned to the ground. Everything and everyone you love will suffer because of you. Black Lives Matter.
The Republican Club issued a statement, stating that Gordon was aware of the incident. The school ending up investigating the hate crime and… found no culprit.
Gordon never shed light on the prevalence of reverse-racism and the animosity expressed towards conservatives on campus. As far as I know, the college still hasn’t taken any action to combat any of these things.
Christopher Rufo and other conservatives have done much investigative work on the Left’s march through the institutions, and its takeover of academia. Rufo and Gov. Ron DeSantis are convinced that a similar takeover of these public institutions by conservatives will result in cultural change.
Private colleges like Gordon, however—in spite of holding classically liberal views—have failed to ward off the tides of change. And other Christian colleges, like Baylor University [Baylor At Breaking Point With Bible, by Rod Dreher, American Conservative, May 31, 2021] and Grove City College, have also started surrendering to aggressive Wokeness.
This isn’t simply due to the governing boards being liberal, although that may be part of it. Rather, it is the students—the social activists—who are moving the goalposts and shifting the conversation on issues like race and gender-identity.
It’s partly racial. Gordon is not as white as you might think.
The enrolled student population at Gordon College is 68.5% White, 10.9% Hispanic or Latino, 4.55% Black or African American, 3.38% Asian, 2.05% Two or More Races, 0.111% Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islanders, and 0.0554% American Indian or Alaska Native.
[Gordon College, DataUSA.io]
Significantly, BLM protests at Gordon were spearheaded by a club known as AFRO Hamwe—a community of African-American students at the college.
But additionally, the surrender to Wokeness is also happening because something really awful is happening with the current student generation. A poll of students taken at Phillips Academy, Andover, one of America’s most prestigious private schools, indicates that Generation Z—our future elite—is disproportionately liberal [Poll from America’s Most Prestigious Private School Gives a Glimpse into Our Future Elite, Breitbart, January 18, 2023]. A global survey also found that nearly 1 in 5 young adults say they are transgender, non-binary, or gender non-conforming [Nearly 1 in 5 young adults say they're not straight, global survey finds, by Julie Moreau, NBC News, June 9, 2021].
Fostering a space within which conservatives can freely express their views won’t work in a social environment dominated by these Leftists.
Studies have suggested that most conservatives already engage in self-censorship on college campuses for this very reason [Evidence That Conservative Students Really Do Self-Censor, by Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic, February 16, 2020]. Speaker events and public debates (if permitted) may give the impression that universities can have an open dialogue. But behind the scenes, on social media, conservatives are being canceled and doxxed and the Left is getting away with it. Aggressive Wokeness started in the 60s during the Civil Rights movement, and it’s infiltrated every institution in the country ever since.
My view: Older Conservatives are still convinced that we can win what they call the “War of Ideas” by replacing youthful ignorance with timeless “Judeo-Christian” values. If conservative colleges and supposedly conservative media outlets propagate these principles, they think, then things will change for the better!
This foolish assumption is predicated on the idea that people change after learning a bunch of abstract principles. But young people aren’t just vessels for ideas, they are hormonal, impressionable, status-hungry individuals who absorb social contagions like they’re candy.
And that’s exactly what Wokeism is—a social contagion.
Many older Conservatives actually believe that America is a Propositional Nation. But young people intuitively recognize this is too abstract and heavenly minded to be of any earthly good. So they end up gravitating toward the Left’s brand of identitarianism.
“Even if the Right could strip Wokeness out of every American institution,” Auron Macintyre has written in the Blaze, “attempting to return to a value-neutral space simply invites the next predatory ideology to take hold.”
Some young conservatives, such Gavin Wax, recognize this [‘We Want Total War!’: Gavin Wax Gives Historic Address at New York Young Republican Club Gala, by Shane Trejo, Big League Politics, December 23, 2022].
Bottom line: Young American patriots need a positive vision, one that can fight fire with fire.
And, in the end, colleges that don’t want to go Woke will simply have to refuse to admit, and even expel, Woke students. It’s not like they make a secret of it.
Lilith Powell [Email her] is a native of Maine.