I am a freshman at Hope College and have been blessed to live with an amazing community, prodigious academics and the acceptance of Christ into my life. I consider Hope to be my new home, and it’s unfortunate to hear attacks against its core identity and principles. I want to remind everyone that Hope is a Christian, liberal arts center of academics and holds to some fundamental ideas with which you may not agree. Even if you don’t agree with Hope’s moral beliefs or policies, it’s both confusing and distasteful to attend, but then go around and condemn, its practices. Here are some examples I have come across.
My first example comes from an article printed in the last edition of The Anchor where the topic was the acquisition of condoms. Towards the end at the second to last paragraph, the author stated “Hope College does care about your health and wellbeing as long as it doesn’t interfere with their outdated values”. Why would you be going to a school that you consider to have such “outdated” values and causes you an inconvenience? It’s a well-known fact that premarital sex is considered to be a sin from a Christian perspective. Regardless of your own morals, these are the values that the college holds, and I imagine they still care for your health, even if they are not passing out free contraceptives. Also, Hope is not a clinic but an educational institution and is responsible for teaching you, not providing minor or major health care benefits. Please don’t choose to attend a college then mock the values that the college and many students hold dear.
The next example also comes from The Anchor, in which the topic of a liberal arts education was discussed. This individual was having a difficult time advancing in comparison to someone who had received a non-liberal arts education. It comes back to the label that Hope is a “liberal arts” college.
The author stated, “Everything I believed about my education turned out to be a lie” and that Hope “itself is not to blame, they’re just a symptom of the problem”.
While Hope is there to help guide their students, it’s also the responsibility of the student to know what they need to do in order to be successful in the future. The author clearly states that they “have done everything I needed to do in these four years at this school”. Pay attention to the word “this.” If I wanted to go into a certain field, did the research and found out that liberal arts schools were not good for that field, then perhaps it would be best to reconsider my choices. While I am sorry that this person has come across some obstacles, it’s inappropriate to attack the methodology of how Hope approaches teaching, especially when plenty of other students seem to be making progress.
My final example is related to the President Knapp and Board of Trustees conflict, specifically about how Knapp should stay because he’s making Hope more inclusive to groups that Christianity doesn’t agree with. I will say this: too much of either exclusivity or inclusivity will be detrimental to the identity of Hope. As Christians and a Christian college, we follow Christ’s example to invite all people, including the LGBTQ+ community, with a sense of love. Yet, we cannot grow tolerant of sinful behavior and must take precautions that our invitations don’t dilute the groundwork of Christ’s moral teachings here at Hope. We must refrain from attacking each other and the college and cooperate by engaging in fruitful discussion to ensure both goals are achieved.
It’s my sincere desire that we can grow to appreciate the positives that Hope offers and have respectful and productive dialogue for the perceived negatives so that they may be resolved.