This College Promises It’s Not Woke

Despite growing concerns from the community, Grove City College pledged that the conservatice Christian college is not woke.

By Erika Hanson | Published

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Woke is a term heard all over the place. The slang applies to those perceived to be alert to racial prejudice and discrimination. Similarly, you hear a lot about anti-wokeness as well, and its rhetoric is used to push political agendas. Keeping with that notion, a conservative Christian liberal arts college, Grove City College, recently promised the public that it is not woke. 

Grove City College released its findings affirming the school is by no means woke following a series of recent events that drew criticism from many supporters of the school. To address the concerns, the college’s board of trustees formed a committee to investigate allegations of a “mission drift” and make recommendations where needed. In releasing the committee’s full report, the college promised that it has not changed, despite allegations of “creeping wokeness.”

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What led to the need to form the committee was a petition started by angry parents claiming the school was teaching critical race theory (CRT). The controversial ideology is often taught at the college level as a tool for making sense of race relations in America’s history, and how it has shaped the nation. But opponents believe critical race theory is a divisive concept that teaches some that they are inherently racist. The concept is said not to be taught at Grove City College, but many feel it has slipped its way into classes and discussions.

One petition from earlier this year was signed by several hundred Grove City parents and alumni concerned that the school was teaching CRT. And in another similar open letter sent to the board, anonymous faculty members raised concerns against the school’s current President, Paul J. McNulty. Claiming the official was implicit in letting CRT slip through the school’s cracks, the petitions pointed to a new education elective, EDU 290, which included a controversial book about race in its syllabus.

Grove city college

The class in question used Ibram X. Kendi’s book, How to Be an Antiracist on its syllabus. The book discusses various concepts of racism and the author’s suggestions on how to combat systemic prejudice. Proponents at Grove City College believe it bypasses the school’s motto not to teach the controversial subject. One parent called out the use of the book in the college course as “pure CRT.” Furthermore, the anonymous parent said, “When I questioned a professor on campus about this course, he defended it by saying it’s better for us to teach our kids how to think and engage with topics we agree and disagree on, then leave them to figure it out on their own. At face value I totally agree, but developing a class using that book as the text gives too much credibility and focus to the topic.”

But it wasn’t just CRT opponents that sent petitions to the Grove City Colleges board for review. As reported from Current, a group of current and former students began a social media petition regarding the recent controversies over conversations surrounding race at college. Defending the class that used Kendi’s controversial book, the group begged the board not to inhibit discussions of race and racism on campus or inside the classrooms.

Now that Grove City College’s extensive inquiry into wokeness is completed, the school has ruled that its motto remains unaltered. Remaining a Christ-centered, conservative institution, the board steadfastly stuck to its claims. Furthermore, the board attempted to smooth things over with both sides of the dispute. While they did not vow to nix the EDU 290 class or its usage of Kendi’s book, they “recommended” that the class be redesigned.