College of the Ozarks: Standing up for Common Sense

College of the OzarksAerial photo of campus by KTrimble/Wikipedia

College of the Ozarks is a private four-year Christian liberal arts college in Point Lookout, Missouri. Founded in 1906, this institution is committed to a five-fold mission focused on the pillars of Academic, Vocational, Christian, Patriotic and Cultural growth in its students. The college aims to develop citizens of Christ-like character who are well-educated and hard-working.

Students at the College of the Ozarks have an opportunity to develop a great work ethic while also showcasing their talents and trades by selling handcrafted items and small-batch baked goods at the campus store and online gift shop. Anyone can purchase their world-famous fruitcakes, delicious fruit spreads, hand-poured candles and other unique products. Order Christmas gifts here!

Hard Work U

The Wall Street Journal dubbed College of the Ozarks “Hard Work U.” That’s because the college has a mandatory work-study program. Each one of the 1,500 students who attend the college is assigned a job to offset the cost of their education. And they graduate without student debt because of it. It’s a bargain for them, as well as for the school, which can reduce costs by using students to fill many of the jobs on campus. The school’s innovative approach is relevant at a time when as many as 43 million Americans hold some form of federal student debt.

Ninety percent of the students at College of the Ozarks have serious financial need. Some are the sons and daughters of missionaries. Some grew up in foster care. Others have ten siblings and parents who run a farm. Many of them were homeschooled. These students aren’t afraid of a little hard work. Every student works for at least 15 hours per week on campus. This may be outside on the farm, milking cows, mowing grass, doing landscaping, overseeing the fire station, or indoors working in the office, library, bookstore, kitchen or creamery. These students leave college with a great work ethic!

Fighting for Faith

At College of the Ozarks, the Christian faith is at the center of everything. The college has strict chapel requirements and dress codes. The college also holds to a Christian belief that biological sex is not changeable, and it operates its dorms accordingly.

But now, the Biden administration is trying to force the college to violate its religious beliefs by allowing men and women to share dorm rooms … and even showers.

In April 2021, Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of College of the Ozarks, challenging a directive from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development forcing schools to open their dormitories (including dorm rooms, bathrooms, and shared shower spaces) to members of the opposite sex.

By requiring entities covered by the Fair Housing Act to not “discriminate” based on sexual orientation or gender identity, this directive forces religious schools to violate their beliefs – and not just to open up residence halls by floor, but to place males in girls’ dorms as roommates and to allow them to use communal bathrooms and showers.

The federal government’s directive applies to all colleges—even private, religious colleges that turn down every cent of federal money. Under this new rule, religious colleges and universities face ruinous financial penalties – including fines of up to six figures, punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees – if the college continues to operate its student housing consistently with its Christian beliefs.

“Religious freedom is under attack in America, and we won’t stand on the sidelines and watch,” said Dr. Jerry C. Davis, former president and current chancellor of College of the Ozarks. “To threaten religious freedom is to threaten America itself.”

That’s why in 2021, Davis led the college in suing the Biden Administration and taking a stand for religious liberty. Dr. Brad Johnson, current president of College of the Ozarks, now takes up the mantle of this worthy battle.

Like his predecessor before him, Dr. Johnson is not willing to sacrifice his Christian values for anyone’s agenda. He realizes that College of the Ozarks isn’t just standing up for its own rights but the freedom of all colleges to provide a safe environment for students to live and learn.

In September 2022, ADF attorneys filed a petition with the 8th Circuit that asks the full court to hear the college’s case against the Biden administration after a three-judge panel dismissed the college’s religious freedom concerns.

Support College of the Ozarks

Will you stand with Dr. Johnson and College of the Ozarks against the Biden administration’s aggressive overreach? Learn more about College of the Ozarks’ lawsuit here and make a donation here. You can also support the college and its mission by ordering items from the students’ online gift shop. A purchase with a purpose!

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