“But I do feel there's a lot of opportunity, because we have a dairy and a hog farm... and then we have a PR office.”
Say what you will about College of the Ozarks. Some have, especially after the college filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration for its directive that could force religious schools to open dorms, showers, and other private areas to members of the opposite sex.
But it does not suffer from a lack of options.
Whether inside the stately hotel and restaurant perched atop one of Missouri’s many rolling hills, or among the grazing cattle at its base, one constant remains.
Students. Young men and women in the prime of life are the engine that drives every operation at “Hard Work U.” In fact, while many college students across the country are just going to bed, it’s time to make hay in Point Lookout, Missouri.
“I was up at 3:00 AM every morning, milking cows,” said Tatum Manary, a public relations major. “Yeah, I was the coolest kid on campus. I went to bed at 8:30 every night.”
That is the price of a debt-free education at College of the Ozarks. Each student participates in the on-campus work program for 15 hours per week and two 40-hour work weeks per school year. And you’d be hard pressed to find anyone complaining about it.
“[T]here's not one thing that I can think of that I came in believing that [the college] would give me that they haven't,” said Lindsay Garrison, a senior who works at the Student Union. “[D]ebt free, obviously that's a given. But there's things like a great work ethic, competitive skills, and just an overall appreciation for the love of country. But also, the love of the people in that country and community.”
Those promises are emblazoned for all to see on the college’s website: Hard work, Christian values, freedom from debt, and higher education in a Christian setting.
Those Christian values, however, are running afoul of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Its directive requires entities covered by the Fair Housing Act to not “discriminate” based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Colleges and universities nationwide , including faith-based institutions, could be forced to open girls’ dorms to male students. And not just open up residence halls by floor, but place males in girls’ dorms as roommates and to allow them to use communal bathrooms and showers.
Ruinous financial penalties could be levied if the college continues to operate consistently with their beliefs.
“Private, faith-based colleges have the constitutionally protected freedom to separate males and females in dorm rooms, showers, and locker rooms. Until recently, that commonsense policy has been widely accepted and respected,” said ADF Senior Counsel Julie Marie Blake. “President Biden’s directive is targeting religious schools, organizations, and churches simply because of their beliefs about marriage and biological sex.”
Alliance Defending Freedom is representing College of the Ozarks at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eight Circuit after a federal court dismissed the case. The Eight Circuit granted a motion to expedite oral arguments, which will likely take place in November of this year.
But as long as she’s still allowed, a young lady from Africa continues serving lavish coffee drinks at the café en route to a biology degree. Another from a missionary family in Brazil dishes ice cream made fresh from the campus dairy farm. Others craft stained-glass ornaments, grind flour at the stone mill, or pay their dues in “the dish pit.”
And no matter the direction they choose once they emerge from their time at College of the Ozarks, one thing is certain.
They’ll have plenty of options.
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