May 21, 2019

Why Gordon is So Important to Me

Shinae Lee ('19, Opinions Editor)

Courtesy of

I came into Gordon as a physics and engineering major. I dropped out of that major and withdrew from all physics courses the first semester. Rather than physics, because of the discussions we had, my favorite class was TGC.

Our TGC peer mentor was studying sociology and regularly referenced topics from her sociology and social work courses, such as Power, Prestige, and Poverty. I stayed in Grace hall; there, I had many late night talks I had with another senior studying sociology, who would go on for hours talking about things Professor Ivy George said in class that day.

For months, I had no idea who this mysterious woman really was, except that she inspired so many students with powerful and liberating content. Nonetheless, I was this clueless individual who was struggling to find a passion, yet, I found myself at Gordon, listening to people talk about topics that I’d always cared about.

At the end of my first semester at Gordon, with my major undecided, I found myself registering for an introductory sociology course with Professor Daniel Johnson for the next semester. And since I enjoyed taking Calculus II and III so much, I thought I’d sign up for Transitions to Higher Mathematics, as well.

I absolutely loved taking Sociologies of Death. I even got my roommate at the time to register for the class! It was definitely a turning point in my life, and it gave me a whole new sense of passion; I had finally discovered something (other than math) that I cared about, something that made me feel at home when I studied it.

For the first time, I found myself so compelled and excited to participate in class. So I kept on taking more sociology courses and thanks to the encouragement of Dr. Crisman, I also kept on taking more mathematics courses. I eventually declared my majors with confidence: Sociology and Mathematics.

It was at Gordon that I met Professor Diana Marginean, in Social Movements and Sociology of Gender, who always told us, “Sociology teaches us how to understand others, while Jesus teaches us to forgive them.” Because of those moments, I have learned what it truly means to be non-judgmental and compassionate.

Not only that, but because of the sociology department and the people in it, I’ve had so many empowering and liberating experiences as well as humbling and heartbreaking moments. I’ve been able to not only discover, but also witness myself and my colleagues create open, welcoming, and safe spaces that encourage discussions on diverse topics that concern us all.

The future of the sociology department at Gordon is uncertain, as is the case with many other departments. But it is at Gordon where I have also had so many conversations about race and gender with students studying biology, Christian ministries, education. I’ve talked about classism and ableism with students studying chemistry, business, Biblical studies. I’ve had chats regarding the environment with Physical Plant staff.

The potential absence of this department doesn’t mean that important conversations and individual and collective growth cannot thrive at Gordon. However, if we lose sociology at Gordon, I will grieve; my faith would not be afloat today, I would not have grown as much as I have, and I would not have found something I’m passionate about.

I somehow ended up as an editor for the Tartan, a mathematics and sociology double major, a TA for both Professor George and Professor Mike Veatch. I am not the only math major who will be affected by these changes at Gordon. My classmates are also double majors with math and history, philosophy, recreation/sport/wellness, psychology, music, chemistry, physics, education, and so on!

It does not make sense to me to value STEM over the humanities, especially if the college’s goal really is to graduate well rounded individuals. For me and many others, it is this ability for a student to major in both mathematics and philosophy, history, recreation, or music at this Christian liberal arts college, that has made Gordon worth attending.

When I first came to Gordon, I would wonder, “What am I even doing here? Why did I even come? Why should I even stay here?” To be honest, I stopped asking that question when I began studying sociology.

Shinae Lee ’19, Opinions Editor

Photo by Deepak Bardhan

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