Campus Erosion: Part Two

There indeed does seem to be a certain level of unrest (activism) within many universities/colleges, their students, and professors/staff regarding DEI- imposed rules and restrictions, required training, and a less than subtle dose of imposed CRT instruction, rarely passive or voluntary in nature. The DEI craze has engulfed a large number of, or most, higher-education schools, just as it has so many corporations and organizations across America. Whether on campus, or too often elsewhere, DEI personnel can “act as speech police” within the school or company. With particular reference to the recent Stanford University Law School woke-infused ruckus, “students who gather to jeer disfavored speakers and intimidate and harass fellow students use the authority of DEI offices to sanction their behavior.”

And these thoughts from an on-site observer, reasoned Stanford Law School Professor Michael McConnell, about that recent and regrettable student disruption, within a subsequent WSJ ‘Letter To The Editor’ he wrote:  “It (that disturbance) was a necessary wake-up call. It is no longer possible to ignore the rise of ideological intolerance among a segment of the (Stanford) student body.” Professor McConnell’s ‘letter’ concludes: “Diversity and inclusion are of course good things, but neither value is advanced by partisanship and censorship.” Purposefully or not, you’ll notice that the Professor omitted “equity” from his D – I summation.  Wise.  “Equity” is rarely a ‘good thing’ in the real world; equity means equal outcomes, regardless.  Are you comfortable, for instance, relying upon an equity-produced brain surgeon, or flying with an equity-selected airline pilot?  Much preferred “equality” means equal opportunity (to compete for selection, and then, excel or fail). Apologies for straying, but these often-worrisome days, the comparative between equity and equality needs to be made and emphasized, over and over again.

Now then, regarding the perhaps surprising growth in campus DEI staff, reportedly, the typical large university now has an average of 45 DEI personnel. The University of Michigan may hold the high end of the spectrum with a hard-to-believe 163 DEI staff members! As an example of the scale of one additional academic expense-shifting dilemma, Georgia Tech is said to currently have “41 DEI personnel, but only 13 history professors.” A pretty clear case of a significant shake-up in campus expectations and fiscal priorities.  As those sample major university numbers would suggest, per the recent WSJ editorial board conclusions: “The tyranny of DEI has spread across far too many American institutions (campus & corporate).” Concluding that: “They (DEI offices) promote racial division rather than redress it, and institutions need to rethink their value.”

Over the last few years, DEI offices on campus (and elsewhere) have seemingly sprung up suddenly like an unintended, rapidly expanding, imposed patch of wildflowers, muscling in on an otherwise impressive, well maintained, registered varieties, and thus, premium rose garden.  In essence, the federal government and political activists have now dictated, by policy and preference, what you must include within your previously satisfying annual, either academic (students & staff), or corporate (employees) floral garden!

This imposed undercurrent of ‘social engineering’ seems to be centered mostly around and within known liberal arts/humanities fields of study vs. the more traditional hard “sciences,” the latter leading to degrees in fields like medicine, dental, veterinary, engineering, astronomer, pharmacist, and others (requiring some or extensive post-graduate study).

Between the seemingly, now-added, and perhaps somewhat addled, social pressures encountered by many students at increasingly woke-impacted schools, as well as the very real concern, for both students and parents, over the likelihood of substantial academic debt to be faced and dealt with upon graduation (Supreme Court decision on debt-forgiveness pending), especially in those majors with predicted lesser real-world, lifetime earnings, an increasing segment of presumed college-bound high school graduates are for the first time in decades, now searching for, and seriously considering, viable alternatives to traditional (and heretofore parent & peer-expected) undergraduate studies.  Options such as: Entering the workplace directly; obtaining a two-year community/technical college degree (or lessor required-time certifications); applying for one of the expanding number of corporate/company apprenticeships; or, if an eventual four-year degree is desired, for now, choosing a delay in higher education studies by enlisting in the military, for a proscribed limited time, with college to be paid for later via the GI Bill.

On the subject of going directly to work vs. heading to university/college studies, currently graduating students (eventually, taxpayers?) hold about $1.7-trillion in student debt.  The expense of schooling vs. entering the workforce directly, with job enhancement training along the way.  “The cost of college has gone up more than 400% in real terms since the mid-1970’s, and we all know that the education students receive is not four times better than it used to be.  In the humanities, there is convincing evidence it has gotten worse.” On the subject of collegiate investment, some reality, as the writer continues: “About 39-million Americans are college dropouts.  One out of four freshmen drop out by the end of their first year. Only two out of three make it to the end of the program, which for many, takes (five or) six years.”

Of course, there is at least one thing to consider, society-wise, in this apparent shift for many between attending college or getting an apprenticeship, or frankly, heading straight to work after high school: If  we see a continuing trend toward fewer college graduates, there could develop shortfalls in fields requiring specific college degrees, and likely continued study beyond, such as health care, of course, law, and others.  For now, go full speed toward the best current or future career opportunities.  And a reminder, with the military option, along with vital service to America, and with certain training opportunities while serving, by delaying college for a comparatively short while (if that four-year degree, or beyond, is the end goal), your eventual schooling will be paid for by the federal government, meaning no student debt upon completion of studies!

Another option, as indicated, is applying for, and obtaining, a corporate/company apprenticeship, some of which extend to incorporate as much as a two-year degree within, being paid while learning, and pursuing a targeted work-study specifically within a field of employment one most desires.  The Covid era literally distanced students from traditional schools (closed for varying durations), causing many to have considered broader options when the gloom lifted. “In the past decade, college enrollment has declined by around 15%, while the number of apprentices has increased by more than 50%.” Columnist Douglas Belkin continues with a comparative: “The gap between the number of students going to college and those selecting apprenticeships is closing, as many employers struggle to find workers in the tightest job market in half a century.” Belkin continues: “Some employers say a mismatch has developed between the skills employers are seeking and the lessons students are learning in college and university courses.” The apprenticeship route is clearly becoming the one closer to satisfying certain employers’ needs, and often more quickly, resulting in a tighter focus on specific skills and preparatory experience sought.

In addition to American apprenticeship models, and the current expansion of opportunities, a young person may want to take a comparative look at what Switzerland is doing, to perhaps feel more comfortable taking the apprenticeship route.  “Switzerland’s national (paid) apprenticeship program attracts participation by about 70% of all Swiss teenagers. Their typical week is a blend of work, school, and mentorship.  Many start fulfilling and rewarding careers without college degrees.” Now, back to the U.S. experiences for future employment seekers, this rather blunt American analysis: “Outside of bogus college degrees, the U.S. currently has no system for helping teenagers learn how to work (vs. Switzerland’s apprenticeship system on a very broad scale). Monotonous, pointless schooling is the prison of our youth.  It’s time teens stopped paying for useless tuition and, instead, got paid by those who can truly help them find the path to success.”  Quite blunt, as warned, making one wonder if the writer, himself, possibly had a less than fulfilling college experience!

And speaking of work skills and applying them, I’m reminded of a recent article that applies here. The article title begins: “Forget ‘quiet quitting,’ “Bare Minimum Mondays” is the new work trend.” This refers to one of the “Gen-Z-fueled-fads.”  We’ve all dealt with the need for a work-life balance throughout our careers.  More often than not, it’s darn tough to make happen, and maintain, especially when just starting out in a new position, and then with promotions and mandated geographic-location work moves. So, “Bare Minimum” goes like this: “Mostly young workers who feel overworked and underpaid, and their desire to do as little as possible – i.e., “the bare minimum” – to start off the week.”  For those of us living in the real world of work, this latest, and certainly the opposite of the real world, is career-ending foolishness which means, with the example of a female TikToker: “I don’t take meetings and take it slow for the first two hours.  I’ll do some reading, some journaling, maybe some stuff around the house.  I give myself permission to do the bare minimum, and it was like some magic spell came over me.  I felt better.  I wasn’t overwhelmed, and I actually got more done than I expected.”  The ‘bare minimum’ could also include, apparently by her continuing example: “applying facial scrubs while on the clock, and intermittently relaxing on her couch instead of answering emails.” This is obviously only possible when working remotely from home and is likely to be a short-lived phenomenon now that she’s admitted the scattered mini-trend to all employers!  The next “magic spell” that she and her Gen-Z followers may experience is the “magic sting” of unemployment.

And, by the way, there was a reference to “Quiet Quitting.” What does that mean?  It’s when employees continue to put in the minimum amount of effort, overall, to keep their jobs (such as: not volunteering for tasks and refusing to work overtime”).  “Thus, employees who put no more effort into their jobs than is absolutely necessary.”  “A 2022 Gallup survey suggested that at least half of the U.S. workforce consists of quiet quitters.”  That may explain a lot with reference to the work productivity and cooperation exhibited by some newer, younger workers today.  Certainly not a positive development, especially if co-workers don’t pick up quickly on that key example, when Janice the “Q.Q.”, for example, is suddenly no longer there doing the minimum at her near-by cubicle!

Strayed from the topic a bit, but felt that a slice of some of today’s younger “live-in-your-own-world” types without having developed bona-fide work ethic, so important for career success, especially when her/his parents don’t own the business!  This may illustrate the value of going directly to work (starting at the bottom) to learn those work expectations quickly; or a community/technical college two-year degree or specific industry certification; or being selected for an apprenticeship (with heavy emphasis on targeted learning and work skills); or by enlisting in America’s military, and regardless of which of the five branches selected, where you will be guaranteed to learn your ”employer’s” clearly-defined work expectations, which typically follow the equally clearly-defined imposition of discipline!  Not to rule out the advantages (perhaps a career requirement) of a four-year undergraduate college degree now, or later, but just to illustrate that, more and more today, high school seniors, men and women, have more active, and more acceptable, training pathways, to the world of work, than simply the immediate and traditional four-year academic one.


(Fact sources: DEI personnel as speech police, DEI staff numbers, etc. via The Wall Street Journal, Editors, 3-18-23; Stanford Law professor letter-to-the-editor via The Wall Street Journal, Editors, 3-23-23; Workforce entry vs. college expense via, Michael Gibson, 11-19-22; Apprenticeship advantages for both student and employer via The Wall Street Journal, Douglas Belkin, 3-18-23; Bogus, monotonous degrees via, Michael Gibson, 11-19-22; “Bare Minimum” work trend among Gen-Z via, Alex Hammer, 3-8-23; “Quiet Quitter” another trend primarily among the younger workers via, editors, 2023).