Time to phase out subsidies for higher education?Dec 7, 2015, Vol. 21, No. 13 • By NEAL MCCLUSKEY
At the University of Missouri, feminist professor Melissa Click cried out “I need some muscle over here!” to expel a reporter from the Concerned Student 1950 protest in a public quad. A more apt encapsulation of what conservatives feel ails academia—identity obsession, rights-curbing, self-righteous bullying—can scarcely be imagined. It’s exactly the kind of thing that might make them cry out for some muscle of their own: someone to force intellectual diversity. Indeed, Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson has said he would punish “extreme bias” by cutting off a school’s access to federal money.
Dr. Carson is right and wrong. Kill the funding, by all means, but not to engineer balance conservatives would deem acceptable.
The Click incident isn’t isolated, with campuses nationwide seeing Missouri-inspired protests and some troubling behavior and demands. Perhaps the most striking has been at Amherst College, where the group Amherst Uprising, in addition to publishing an exhaustive list of peoples it demands school officials apologize to for historical injustices, declared:
President Martin must issue a statement . . . that states we do not tolerate the actions of student(s) who posted the “All Lives Matter” posters, and the “Free Speech” posters that stated . . . “in memoriam of the true victim of the Missouri Protests: Free Speech.” Also let the student body know that it was racially insensitive to the students of color on our college campus and beyond who are victim to racial harassment and death threats; alert them that Student Affairs may require them to go through the Disciplinary Process if a formal complaint is filed, and that they will be required to attend extensive training for racial and cultural competency.
While the stridency of activism may seem to have reached new highs—or lows—it is hardly a recent arrival. You could go at least as far back as William F. Buckley’s God and Man at Yale to behold the leftward lean of America’s ivory tower. Academia did not become an almost wholly owned subsidiary of the left—63 percent of professors self-identify as “far left” or “liberal,” only 12 percent “conservative” or “far right”—overnight.
The questions we should be asking are where the injustice is in this, and what should be done about it. Of course, threatening to physically expel a reporter, as Professor Click did, is illegal. But what about incidents that are legal, but also sheer bullying?
The latter would include Amherst Uprising’s demand that school officials not “tolerate” free speech defending, well, free speech, and at Yale, the public berating of the master of Silliman College over an email from his wife defending the right of students to wear culturally “appropriating” Halloween costumes. Berating is not illegal, nor is a private college censuring speech, but both shatter the free exchange of ideas universities are supposed to enshrine.
One problem for conservatives is that while they may recoil at politically correct power plays, there is no unanimously agreed-upon line demarcating “extreme bias.” And if conservatives ask themselves who should get to set that line for everyone, their answer should be “no one. That would be tyranny.”
And are conservatives prepared to say that student actions are absolutely baseless? Is it not possible that there is racial inequity at the University of Missouri? Or that it is dispiriting to see buildings named after slaveholders, as students on several campuses have complained? And isn’t it conceivably valuable to prohibit inflammatory speech lest exchanging ideas devolve into The Jerry Springer Show?
A good example of how valid values may clash is the drive to remove memorials to Woodrow Wilson at Princeton University, where Wilson was president from 1902 to 1910. Some conservatives may cheer the effort because Wilson was a political progressive and equal condemnation seems fair, but others may have qualms condemning someone for views considered far more odious today than in his time.
Given the inherent injustice of dictatorial punishment for “extreme” views, and the possibility of all sides having legitimate positions, the only remedy fair to both conservatives and those with whom they disagree is to phase out higher education subsidies: You may say what you please, but not on my dime. Indeed, no matter who is subsidized, it is simply unjust to force one person to fund the speech of another.
Of course, we cannot end subsidies—from all levels of government, currently around $250 billion annually—overnight. It would have to be done over a long enough period for both schools and students to adjust.
Dec 7, 2015, Vol. 21, No. 13 • By TERRY EASTLAND
Next month the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Abigail Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, one of the most important cases this term. In 2008 Fisher, a white high school senior in Texas, applied for admission to the university and was turned down.
Jonathan V. Last's lessons in higher education.Nov 30, 2015, Vol. 21, No. 12 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
Having a decidedly anti-romantic view of college, I find myself not entirely opposed to the student radicals besieging campuses across the country.
Once upon a time, universities transmitted knowledge and formed the minds and characters of young adults. But that ended long before I arrived at Johns Hopkins in the mid-1990s.
No, welders do not make more money than philosophers.7:32 AM, Nov 11, 2015 • By ETHAN EPSTEIN
Maybe he is the Republican Obama after all. Like the outgoing president, Florida senator Marco Rubio is charismatic, self-assured, and intelligent, as his performance in Tuesday night’s debate displayed. Alas, also like the president, Senator Rubio harbors an anti-intellectual streak, one that is both wrong in its premises, as well as on the facts.
Welcome to the worst job market in AmericaNov 16, 2015, Vol. 21, No. 10 • By CHARLOTTE ALLEN
Every few years in the Northeast, biologist John Cooley gets famous—because he’s the man who discovered the mating secrets of one of the insect world’s weirdest and most-publicized species: Magicicada septendecim, the 17-year cicada. True to their name, and unlike the bottle-green “annual” cicadas that emerge in backyards every summer, the black-and-orange 17-years spend more than a decade and a half underground as larvae, and then all emerge as adults at the same time, usually in May.
Book Review: The Prize, by Dale Russakoff.1:34 PM, Oct 23, 2015 • By RICH DANKER
On a fall afternoon in 2010, the unlikely trio of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, then-Newark Mayor Cory Booker, and Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg took the stage of the Oprah show to declare their plan to remake American urban education.
Oct 26, 2015, Vol. 21, No. 07 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
If one good thing comes out of the Bill Cosby Crisis, The Scrapbook is fairly certain what it will be. For as the New York Times reported in a recent story, the 60 or so institutions of higher learning in America that have, during the past few decades, conferred honorary degrees on Bill Cosby are now agonizing about what to do. Some have chosen not to act in response to the allegations against Cosby; others have officially revoked their degrees; still more have rules against such retroactive gestures.
3:01 PM, Sep 30, 2015 • By ETHAN EPSTEIN
Donald Trump may own some of the nation’s most chichi country clubs – they don’t let just anybody in the Mar-a-Lago! – but his base of political support comes from clubs of a different sort. Ten years after two writers took to these pages to urge Republicans to appeal to people at Sam’s Club rather than the country club, the boisterous billionaire is doing just that.
9:26 PM, Sep 26, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
Michelle Obama introduced Bono at an event this evening in New York City. As the first lady introduced the singer-turned-icon, she repeated one of his signature lines: "povery is sexist."
2:10 PM, Sep 22, 2015 • By NICHOLAS TAMPIO
After great fanfare, and much handwringing from an anxious higher education community, the Obama administration finally launched its ballyhooed College Scorecard. It disappoints, but not, perhaps, for the reasons that many think.
Hillary Clinton’s flawed plan for student debt relief. Aug 24, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 47 • By JAMES PIERESON
Nearly everyone recognizes that student debt has risen to a level that will be difficult to sustain, given the nation’s slow-growing economy and the sagging incomes of too many college-educated Americans. Nearly 40 million Americans carry some form of student debt; more than 7 million are in default on their loans, and many more have missed scheduled payments. The total amount of outstanding student debt is estimated to be $1.2 trillion, with about two-thirds of this sum underwritten by the federal government.
5:01 PM, Aug 4, 2015 • By ERIN MUNDAHL
Americans have long been skeptical of the liberal arts. Frequently this takes the form of a discussion of whether a degree in history or literature is “worth it” in a purely economic sense. Annual reports highlight the top-earning college majors, subtly encouraging students to forgo a class in literature or history in favor of something useful, like nursing or engineering.
Perhaps it’s a reflection of our innate American pragmatism.
10:18 AM, Jul 6, 2015 • By DAVID MURRAY
In the July 3, 2015 “Notable and Quotable” column, the Wall Street Journal honors the school reformer, Marva Collins, who died this week at age 78, by resurrecting a 1982 opinion piece about her authored by Paul Gigot. Collins was a fearless supporter of funded tuition vouchers, and herself a celebrated teacher.
7:57 PM, Jun 29, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
First Lady Michelle Obama is thankful for her life. At the More magazine Impact Awards at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., the first lady credits her good life--and independence--to education.