Former University of Kentucky championship swimmer Riley Gaines was recently assaulted by demonstrators at San Francisco State University for her support of keeping biological men out of women’s sports. Federal Appeals Court Judge Kyle Duncan was shouted down at Stanford Law School. Cornell University’s student government recently passed a resolution calling for automatic trigger warnings from faculty. Thankfully, the administration rejected it. College campuses have long been the front line for America’s culture wars. Columbia University, Princeton, Brandeis, and the University of California at San Diego gave jobs to Marxists, such as Theodor Adorno, Herbert Marcuse, and Erich Fromm in the 1940s. Harvard University filled a stadium with students for the newly victorious Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro in 1959. It was Students for a Democratic Society who led the way for the New Left and primed American cities for violence and riots in the 1960s.
It was also students who became Marxist terrorists as members of the Weather Underground, and it was other students, radicals in the 1960s, who became faculty members and helped disseminate their extreme ideas throughout higher education. Today, many college campuses have embraced cultural Marxism, a poisonous mix of identity politics, intolerance of dissent, and a vision of the world locked in structural conflict. The new brigades of “diversity, equity, and inclusion” DEI administrators serve as thought police, enforcing the new orthodoxy. A recent study by Jay Greene of The Heritage Foundation and James Paul of the Educational Freedom Institute found that DEI staff now make up an average of 3.4 positions for every 100 tenured faculty, and that “these programs are bloated, relative to academic pursuits and do not contribute to reported student well-being on campus.”
The progressive elite running our universities today have not only rejected the canon of Western civilization, but they are also dismantling such bedrock principles as equal treatment under the law, the dignity of every individual, even the very notion of truth itself. The cultural Marxists have instead embraced the collectivist ideology of equity — that dystopian myth that all individuals can be forced to achieve the same outcome. They embrace the power required to enforce that myth and jealously guard their exclusive right to decide who constitutes the privileged group and who must be punished or silenced. But a handful of colleges and universities are notably pushing back. Hillsdale College is perhaps the best known, thanks to the publication of its anti-woke monthly Imprimis, which reaches more than 6 million readers, and to its outspoken president, Larry Arnn.
Others include Christendom College, Liberty University, Grove City College, Wyoming Catholic College, and Patrick Henry College. A key part of their ability to reject the woke culture is their rejection of federal funding. Another college worth mentioning is the New College of Florida, whose seven new board members appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis recently fired the president and then closed down its DEI office. Now there’s a new entrant that has stepped up to the front line of the campus wars: Southern Wesleyan University, based in South Carolina. William Barker, the university’s new president, said in his inaugural speech that he wanted the university to serve as a stronghold and a refuge: “We have the capacity to build a ‘Helm’s Deep,’” referring to the stronghold of the Rohirrim in J.R.R. Tolkien’s trilogy “The Lord of the Rings,” and a scene of a major battle between the forces of good and evil.
Barker continued, “This stronghold is not a hiding place. This is not a call to retreat from the world. Rather, let our stronghold be the place where people take shelter from the storm, long enough to strategize anew, to train, and then go forth to re-engage with greater strength and purpose in the long conflict with evil in whatever its new forms may be.” For Barker, it’s an important distinction that Southern Wesleyan University (SWU) is a Christian university, a holy university, and as such, the education it offers is different from the education of a secular university. “The secular university teaches knowledge and innovation, but because of its foundations, the holy university adds to these the pursuit of ultimate truth, wisdom and virtue,” Barker said, adding: “Our secular counterparts often offer a pale imitation of higher education, because by eliminating the Christian faith, they have thereby eliminated the God of wisdom from the university.”
However simply being a Christian university is not sufficient inoculation against the disease of radical progressive ideology that has swept through so many universities of late. In a recent interview, Barker said, “There are a number of colleges that go by the label of ‘Christian,’ and they will say to their donors, trustees, and prospective parents, everything is well, ‘We are following biblical norms.’ But internally, they are endorsing, teaching, and setting into policy, personnel with a progressive agenda on matters of human sexuality, gender and race.” He had made a similar point in his inaugural speech: “I have already seen the sickening emails between senior administrators at other institutions encouraging one another not to take a stand on any controversial issue for fear of alienating constituencies and jeopardizing the college’s future. It’s encouraging that at least SWU has joined the ranks of those that will stand strong, even if the battle seems daunting right now.
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