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Conservative Colleges Become Targets in the Woke Higher-Ed Battle

'Moving off  — or being perceived as moving off — from sufficiently conservative viewpoints is a major gamble with poor odds of success... '

(Jacob Bruns, Headline USA) Woke idealogues have long understood that the foremost battleground for the future of America is its schools, with its colleges and universities in particular.

In a Detroit Free Press op-ed, journalist David Jesse documented the ways in which conservative Christian colleges have responded to pushes from the Left, and how they have maintained–or failed to maintain–their independence from official state ideology.

In particular he compared Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Michigan to Grove City College in Western Pennsylvania –both of which have refused thus far to accept federal funding–as two models for responding to wokeness in academia.

Whereas Hillsdale has refused to engage with academic wokeness, Grove City has remained open to it, inviting much criticism from students, professors and parents.

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According to Jesse, conservative Christian schools like Hillsdale are flourishing despite being constantly under attack because some conservatives are “upset” about the “a progressive-led move away from traditional belief systems” to his preferred “inclusive, modern approach to the world.”

Jesse’s report also indicated that schools which deviate from traditional conservatism tend to have a harder time attracting students.

“The statistics show a clear result: Moving off  — or being perceived as moving off — from sufficiently conservative viewpoints is a major gamble with poor odds of success.”

Of course, in Jesse’s opinion the differences come down to simple views on ephemeral political policies like the 2020 election or the relative merits of former President Donald Trump.

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But at the heart of such disputes is a fundamentally religious disagreement.

Hillsdale professor David Whalen noted that Hillsdale has not changed because it prefers not to succomb to idolatry, regardless of what the state may promote.

“Hillsdale keeps its values the same because they are embedded in the mission — a treasured mission that is not ours to alter or ignore,” Whalen said. “Hillsdale College faculty, students, and staff are here in service of the mission, not to bend it on a whim nor according to the idol of the day.”

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