Campus Erosion: Part One

Lately it seems, in at least some American universities, primarily on both coasts, traditional higher education is taking a major hit in these days of climbing fees, fewer options, political manipulation, and woke weirdness. Within the halls of seemingly now, some, poison ivy, purposefully unequal equity is on the move and free speech seems to be on life-support.

Regarding the latter, the most recent example occurred at California’s Stanford University’s Law School (as most of you have heard), when an invited Federal Circuit Court Judge was unable to speak due to being down in sometimes vulgar fashion (“I hope your daughters get raped”) by “law” students, you’ll remember, sadly then echoed and reinforced by a school DEI official, as the curtain came slamming down on this supposedly freedom of speech campus. Wrote the Wall Street Journal editorial board on the pertinent issues here: “The Stanford blowup shows how the culture of DEI, and especially its accumulation of power in the bureaucracy, has become a threat to free speech.  Rather than promoting diversity, DEI officers enforce ideological conformity.”   Can you imagine, in years hence, how totally biased some of these students would perhaps be if, heaven forbid, they become judges themselves.  This current wave of behavior bodes poorly for even greater chaos within the controversial ills of today’s/tomorrow’s judicial system.

As for the equity (vs. equality) issue, one example is Columbia University, which is doing away with the traditional undergrad admissions requirement of submitting either SAT or ACT test scores, heretofore a standard means of assessing a student’s potential to succeed with university-level studies.  Dress it up however you like, this is purely an equity-driven effort to achieve admissions quotas among racial, gender, ethnic, and sexual orientation applicants.  How many highly competent, well-prepared female or male applicants, who fail to sport, from amidst the array, one of the currently favored skin pigments, may be passed over in favor of admitting others, although having no standardized test scores, and/or perhaps less or even far less qualified, while however boosting the numbers from among any of the above listed social criteria?  Wrote New York Post columnist Betsy McCaughey: “(Columbia) announced the move last week (March 2023) in a slippery statement about making admissions ‘nuanced’ and ‘respecting varied backgrounds, voices, and experiences.’ Truth is, Columbia is ditching merit for diversity.  Without admitting it, Columbia is swapping an academic mission – providing a rigorous education to a group of prepared students – with a new one: social engineering.  Unfortunately, most colleges are more interested in being politically correct than enduring their student body can do the work.”

Meanwhile, at the City College of New York (CUNY), columnist Bob McManus wrote: “The university’s latest surrender to mediocrity came in mid-January, when the CUNY Chancellor grandly announced it will no longer be necessary to do college-level academic work to receive graduation credit at CUNY’s seven community colleges.”  Presumably, most or many of those students will then transfer that ‘achievement’ on into CUNY’s eleven senior colleges. For too many then, mediocrity marches on.

And now, at the State University of New York (a 64-campus university system), all new students will soon be required to take a course centered on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Social Justice, in order to graduate. Thereby forcing this Progressive-style course on every freshman student across the system, beginning Fall 2023.  The course will include a focus on the “creation and perpetuation of the dynamics of power, privilege, oppression, and opportunity” in America. The chairman of the New York State Conservative Party said the new course was like “a critical race theory class, which has become a heated issue across the country. This is a woke, left wing agenda.  It’s disturbing. It’s dangerous. They’re treating everybody as having prejudice.”

Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia (3,000 students), at the dictate of the Board of Trustees, announced earlier this month (March 2023) that, starting with the incoming class in the Fall, the school will be cutting several bachelor’s degree academic majors (including several from traditional humanities sequences): Theology & religious studies, philosophy, mathematics, art, history, sociology, English, economics and secondary education. Courses in those subjects may still be taken, but can no longer be applied to a major. Dropping the major in theology & religious studies seems especially strange since “the institution prides itself on its Catholic ethos and art degrees,” which seems like it’s “stripping away its foundation and identity.”  Said one student: “The overall atmosphere of the Marymount community right now is just kind of dead.”  At a student protest regarding the dropped majors-decision, one student placard read: “Not fair and not inclusive.”  Interesting to hear the word “inclusive” referring to the diminished choice of majors, rather than to the make-up of the student body, as most schools are now emphasizing with the favored equity push.

The university administration, dealing with a comparably small current endowment, thus a  futures’ focus for leadership, responded to student complaints: “Digital disruption, economic conditions and the explosion of low-cost on-line course providers, have put pressure on universities to reinvent their institutions in order to compete. Students have more choices than ever for where to earn a college degree, and MU must respond wisely to the demand.” Reportedly, those majors being cut represent lower student demand today. Marymount’s stated objective going forward will be to grow enrollment through innovation and academic-majors growth. No specifics yet given.  Majors at the school still showing strength in student selection:  nursing, business administration, and information technology.  Given the slimming down of choices in academic majors, it remains to be seen if Fall enrollment (and thereafter) exhibits sustainable growth or a troubling decline in students.

In a March 14, 2023 article titled “Woke colleges are literally driving students mad,” columnist Glenn Reynolds first reviews the Stanford Law School debacle (discussed above) as an example of both the lack of tolerance for free speech (conservative thought, thus inherently objectionable) on perhaps too many campuses, and the resulting (woke-taught) intolerant attitudes & behavior displayed by, sadly, in this specific case, too many Stanford students (far worse yet, in this case, for our civil future, exhibited in raw woke-ism at a law school). Commented Reynolds: “And that’s what they’re taught in America’s ‘elite’ institutions (and others). Words you don’t like are ‘violence’ and do ‘harm.’ Instead of being taught to overcome traumatic experiences, negative thoughts and emotional instability, students are encouraged to dwell on them.  Students’ worst, and most juvenile behavior, is indulged and rewarded, with the predictable result that students grow increasingly juvenile and ill-behaved.” Oh, what joy the rest of us may now have from this objectional, intolerant speech and behavior, and can look forward to, as this generation progresses through American society. Hopefully the rigors and reality of the nation’s workplaces (assuming most will obtain and retain employment) can successfully tame and set real limits on any anti-social (make that, anti-America) attitudes and behavior. Ideally, then, causing the extremely-liberal-thought afflicted young folks to give up childish thoughts and actions.  We can certainly hope.

Finally, and certainly related to the above discussions, a recent national poll (1,500 U.S. faculty members), conducted by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), determined that (overall): “52% of professors (on university/college campuses) said they worried about losing their jobs or reputations because of being misunderstood (i.e., accused of having the ‘wrong’ views).” And even more concern was expressed among conservative professors: “72% of conservative respondents feared being canned for their views, compared to 56% of moderates, and 40% of liberals.”  And regarding having to sign the newly introduced DEI statements as a condition of employment, the responses were evenly split, with 50% saying such was a “justifiable requirement,” while the other 50% termed such as “an ideological litmus test that violates academic freedom.”

Bottom line: Higher education professors are either having to keep their political ideology and thoughts to themselves, or potentially (more and more likely) face losing their position to a possibly lesser-qualified new faculty person with more acceptable political views, as liberals continue to land teaching (and administrative) slots and help guarantee the continued campus prominence of Progressive-Socialist woke-elite (eventually extinguishable, we hope).


(Fact sources:  Columbia equity transition via, Betsy McCaughey, 3-8-23; CUNY’s academic equity move via, Bob McManus, 3-5-23; SUNY required DEI course via, Ronny Reyes, 2-1-23; Marymount University drops several majors via, Ross Ibbetson, 3-9-23; Stanford Law School blow-up via, Tristan Justice, 3-20-23; Woke university environment negative impacts via, Glenn H. Reynolds, 3-14-23; College professors fear losing their jobs via, James Reinl, 2-28-23).