New college merch sparks controversy

*This article is part of The Ranchor, The Anchor’s biannual satire edition*

Earlier this month, the Hope College design team released a new line of college apparel. The line promptly premiered for public purchase on the very bookstore racks many parents, alums and students peruse throughout their freetime. However, within two weeks, a particular item has been stripped from the physical and online store after a community uproar. 

“God’s Favorite,” the fabled shirt reads. Clad in the signature Hope College blue and orange, some call the tagline “blasphemous,” “inappropriate” and “unprofessional,” among others.

Student employee Cassie VanDer Kwithington (’25) was the one who initially stocked the racks with the soon-to-be blunder. When asked about the fateful day, her hand rubbed over her bouncing knee. “I’m a freshman,” she said. “I didn’t know any better. To be honest, I thought it was just a joke! Like when this girl in my cluster bought a Hope Grandpa shirt. I didn’t know.”

#BoycottheBookstore became a campus wide trend on Twitter and Instagram stories. “Our good Lord loves and cherishes each of his beautiful creations equally. You were made in his image, Jesus was made in that image, and even I was also made in that image,” wrote Paul Jansen (’23), @paulypaulpaul on his Instagram story. 

Soon afterwards, multiple Enneagram 3 Student Congress members came together and organized a Dance Marathon FTK Fundraiser-Protest against the shirt. On Saturday, October 30, students and community members came together on 10th Street to both raise money for the Hope College Dance Marathon chapter and to express their feelings regarding “God’s Favorite.”

Penny Van de Berg (’22) considers herself the main organizer of the event, and stood on a wooden box in front of the iconic Wizard of Oz memorial hedge. It was a bitter 40 degrees for the students that are not native Michiganders, and despite it all, over fifty people showed up. 

“Stand together, Hope College Christians! Stand tall. This may be a shadow over our reputation and our respect, but worry not! God may test each of us in ways we can never understand. It is how we complete those tests that matters. Each and every one of you here this morning showed up with a number two pencil, ready to fully bubble in each multiple choice question on the scantron of circumstance. God is smiling at us! Can’t you feel it?” Van de Berg riled up the crowd with her speech.

President Scogin, the administration, and the apparel designers have been contacted to speak on this issue, but have all returned with no comment. President Scogin is scheduled to speak at the upcoming lecture “Christians Against Studying Genesis” held by history professor Clark Chomsky on Thursday, November 4. It has been speculated that the president will acknowledge the recent controversy then.

Hope College is a campus with an ever-growing level of diversity, and it’s that very diversity that allows for controversy in the first place. Freshman theatre student Gage Grossman was seen proudly wearing his “God’s Favorite” tee-shirt on the morning of the protest. 

“I think it’s funny. The moment I saw it, I didn’t care how much it cost. I needed to have it. If you can’t have a sense of humor about yourself, then you’re clearly taking yourself too seriously. All the best satires feel real, and if you’re smart, then you catch the joke. I’m smart, so I caught the joke. For real, chill out, man. In the words of Sam Shepard––” said Grossman. 

Grossman continued ranting his radical liberal theatre talk, claiming that there is a large number of the student body standing behind him and his cause. Regardless of where students stand, it is important to remember that Hope provides counseling and psychological services to any student, free of charge. Penny Van de Berg would also like every student to know that she is now taking applications for the executive board of her new club: FTKAGHLRU (For the Kids Against God’s Hate, Let’s Rise Up).

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