A dark secret emerges at St. Mary’s College of California

The dominant message on campus is that maleness is inherently oppressive and must be resisted

Chapel on St. Mary’s College in Moraga, California (photo from stmarys-ca.edu)

I was recently present for a troubling exchange between two professors at my university, St. Mary’s College of California. One professor, coming from office hours, mentioned a student who advocated Nazi eugenics as a viable social solution for America. The other, unsurprised, said he regularly receives essays on race and gender theories championed by the alt-right. As the sun shone on our tiny campus tucked away in the hills of California’s Bay Area, I stumbled upon one of the darkest secrets of St. Mary’s: The college is unwittingly creating the male students it most fears.

Why should this surprise us? Throughout campus, posters advertise “Faster, Higher, Stronger: Climbing the Olympic Ladder as a Transgender Athlete”—a two-part series exploring “the possibility of playing sport without the restriction of the gender binary.” The lecture series designed to accompany St. Mary’s Great Books program this year bears the name “Places of Power, Voices of Protest,” and promises to address “questions of power, privilege, and dissent.” One lecture in the series, “On Gender and Education,” will cover “reinforced patriarchal values” in education, and will be followed by a discussion of “gendered views of knowledge and their implications for education.” The dominant message on campus is that maleness is inherently oppressive and must be resisted.

St. Mary’s adoption of progressive identity politics has activated the shadow side of this ideology: the alt-right. Both ideologies champion gender and race as an individual’s defining features, with the progressive narrative supporting female and minority identities to an extreme, and the alt-right upholding a distorted white-male identity. Taught on campus that identity is the most essential element of their personhood, disenfranchised young men who choose the alt-right are simply choosing the identity that validates them.

Meanwhile, there can be no forum for candid discussion of the campus climate, because administrators encourage students to equate opinions with personal identity. Disagreement is not just disagreement—it is an attack. Staff in the Mission and Ministry Center, the Intercultural Center, and the New Student and Family Programs encourage students to use the “oops/ouch” method. If someone forgets to use politically correct language or says anything deemed offensive, these staff members encourage bystanders to interject “oops” as a corrective, and “ouch” if they have been personally harmed. One male friend recalls being chastised for saying “you guys” instead of “you all” to a group of men. Especially offensive opinions may be reported to our Bias Incident Reporting Team (BIRT). More than fifty such reports were filed last year. It should come as no surprise, then, that so many male students retreat to online forums, where their views begin to lean toward the alt-right.

Ironically, the school founded by the Lasallian Christian Brothers in 1863 as an all-male college is now leaving my male peers without a place. The scarcity of men in student leadership reflects this: Males hold only 15 percent of positions. The average male student senses anti-male overtones in everyday interactions on campus, both inside and outside the classroom. Some cite social pressure to stay quiet during class discussions. Others say their opinions are belittled or disregarded due to their gender. Predictably, these experiences lead to deep frustration and frequently to disengagement. The alt-right preys on this sense of victimhood, stridently offering a warped masculine identity to those whose masculinity is stigmatized in daily exchanges.

Young men have found a dangerous ideology that offers them masculine validation. It is more than the official campus ideology can offer. All the campus offers them is guilt, shame, and the role of oppressor in an unending identity-politics drama.

But students seeking to escape the identity idolatry of the alt-right and progressivism need only look up. Literally. Above every doorway at St. Mary’s hangs a crucifix, a constant reminder that all the oppression, shame, and guilt of the world have been laid upon one man already. The gospel leaves no room to identify as male or female, but insists that Christ’s body transcends identity politics. Small pockets of students already choose this alternative.

Full story at First Things.


  1. History Major says:

    Identity politics is literally satanic. It claims that we are something apart from God. It tries to make our specific existence into our essence. In other words, it’s a rebellious “I AM.” (I am black becomes I AM black). But only God’s can have his essence be existence. Only God IS. If God doesn’t continuously keep us in existence, we don’t exist. Therefore, our identity is tied up with God as his creation, his children.

  2. helen wheels says:

    i remember the “good old days”
    when things were very different.
    Unfortunately, history does NOT
    have a “reverse” gear.

  3. Claudia G says:

    Is St Mary’s still advertised as Catholic? Who are the religious who oversee this place?

  4. St. Mary’s use to be run by the Christian Brothers whom were very strict!

    Sounds like as another post stated, they need to have their ‘Catholic’ identify removed!!!!!!

  5. Just about every “Catholic” school has the same dark secret. At some places, it’s not even a secret.

  6. Linda Maria says:

    This college has not been Catholic, nor even Christian, for many long years! The Roman Catholic Church, and our Nation’s education leaders– had better take their responsibilities seriously– or else, all Western Civilization will someday be unfit to live in! It will be nothing but immature, immoral, extremist crackpot garbage! With good talent and good leadership choked out of a chance to set anything right, and lead a return to normalcy and decency! Many of these extremist crackpots have infiltrated American culture, since the 1960s, intent on destroying our country, and Christianity, too— and it always amazes me, that no one effectively stops them– and soon, it may be too late!

  7. John Patrick says:

    Silly theory as men are 50% of people living. They are not going away. Also, eugenics were not established by the Nazis but were championed by the Rockefeller Institute and Carnegie Institute. Europeans and the Nazis believed the eugenics theories and put them into action. But journals of eugenics were put out all over the US. All based on the idea that one would build up one’s race by erasing the inferior races. California rendered sterile many black people without their knowledge.

  8. Linda Maria says:

    Is America nearly totally lost to Satan?? With Satanic “educational” institutions leading the way?? I was recently horrified, flipping through the San Francisco Public Library’s summer brochure, of programs for families and children– on p.18, at the Eureka Valley library branch– there was listed a “Drag Queen Story Hour” for children, complete with cookies!! Their brochure quickly went into the trash!

  9. Steve Seitz says:

    If the Church isn’t going to require that Catholic colleges have a Catholic character, she really needs to implement a two tier system of accreditation.

    The first tier would be colleges that have a Catholic character: the second tier would be colleges that wish to be known as Catholic but have inculturated secularism into their core.

  10. Red Herring. Seems even the author was taken in. But given her very funny punch line in the original, I don’t doubt her sincerity.

    Bugaboo hoaxes by the Left are legion, from the Air Force Academy to the U of Virginia/Rolling Stone, from Duke University to Hands Up, Don’t Shoot. Even the American Bishops are game. Why would one think St Mary’s to be any different?

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