It’s been 8 or so months of watching from afar as controversy sparked on the campus of my alma mater. It’s been a complicated process to put into words what I think and feel, but maybe that’s the point. Here are some words I strung together as I try to work through the million thoughts and feelings and memories and disappointments. Turns out that’s kinda hard to do at once…

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Classroom discussions that became lunch table discussions that became dorm room discussions. Professors that had open office doors on campus and even invited us to their homes to mingle with their families and their pets. Books that made me cry and cringe and get curious and crack open more books and write bold papers with four pages of sources at the end. Chances to form an opinion, to say when I thought that something was right or wrong, people who pointed out the same in my words. Grace for my shortcomings and short temper, for my missed deadlines and misaligned priorities. Space to move, to repent, to forgive, to fail, to grow.

This is the best of an experience of Grove City College, and what I hope for its future.

It’s not easy seeing a place where I sort of grew up come under fire from all sides, and ‘people that make the place’ experience the same.

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have at least some complicated feelings towards Grove City College for one reason or another. For some people—people close to me—their reasons are heartbreaking and valid and hard to hear and hold. Sometimes, when I hear those hard things, it feels easier to look away, to view my experiences there as only nostalgia or only trauma or only good or only bad.

But it’s more complicated than that.

Grove City College is a place that we all lived and loved, studied and sang, debated and danced at. It sometimes was the worst and it sometimes was the best. I don’t want GCC to go up in flames, because it’s also a place that made me. But I do think there’s some refining that needs to take place. Some stuff should burn, particularly the fears of life outside of the bubble, the culture that ignores the cries of ‘the other’, the idea our alma mater is on the right side of history.

So this week, I am thinking about the folks who will come under fire for prioritizing ‘Christ-centered’ rather than ‘conservative.’ I’m thinking about the folks who showed me that faithful leadership looks a bit like farming a grove of sequoias. Here’s to the people who made the place, who are trying to make the place better when it’s easier to just watch it all burn.