Universities Finally Discovering That Tolerating Progressive Violence and Intimidation Will Cost Them Dearly
Thomas Lifson, American Thinker, August 31, 2017
I am shedding no tears over this announcement made by the administration of The Evergreen State College in Washington. Jennifer Kabbany writes in The College Fix:
Administrators at The Evergreen State College have announced that the embattled school faces a massive $2.1 million budget shortfall due in part to a drop in enrollment, and the institution has already handed out some temporary layoff notices as officials grapple with balancing the books.
In an Aug. 28 memo to the campus community titled “Enrollment and Budget Update,” officials report that fall 2017-18 registration is down about 5 percent, from 3,922 students to 3,713. But the problem is nearly all of the students they lost are nonresidents, who traditionally pay a much higher tuition to attend, officials explained in the memo, a copy of which was obtained by The College Fix.
Jason Rantz summarizes why the layoffs are coming:
Turns out, being nationally recognized for unhinged Progressive students who are allowed by cowardly administrators to run amok doesn’t pay off, as Evergreen State College is learning. (snip)
I hope this serves as a wake up call. The behavior we saw on the Evergreen campus surrounding Professor Bret Weinstein has consequences. Evergreen administrators seem to hate being criticized and rather than change their behavior, they lash out. It wouldn’t surprise me if the reason for some of the drop off is their notoriety as a bastion of political correct lunatics.
But as much as the school wants to placate childish and dangerous behavior of campus activists who are offended when someone doesn’t agree with every one of their tactics, they do so at their own peril (and budget shortfall).
Progressives have already done significant damage to the values that once animated scholarship and higher education, putting political goals above the disinterested search for the truth and open consideration of the facts. This damage is for the most part welcomed by the left, as they see it paving the way for their political dominance.
However, the reflexive backing of (or failure to discipline) radical students who attack or intimidate conservatives is staring to hurt those institutions whose surrender to the left becomes widely known. The significant financial impact of surrender to the left even has a name, “the Mizzou effect,” after the serious decline experienced by the University of Missouri after it caved in to radical demands from black students and a professor was videotaped calling for “muscle” to eject a reporter, thereby becoming an icon of progressive intolerance and thuggery on campus:
Jillian Kay Melchior reported in the Wall Street Journal on the layoffs, the cuts, and seven mothballed dormitories at the University of Missouri following the administration’s apparent surrender to the left.
As classes begin this week, freshmen enrollment is down 35% since the protests, according to the latest numbers the university has publicly released. Mizzou is beginning the year with the smallest incoming class since 1999. Overall enrollment is down by more than 2,000 students, to 33,200. The campus has taken seven dormitories out of service.
The plummeting support has also cost jobs. In May, Mizzou announced it would lay off as many as 100 people and eliminate 300 more positions through retirement and attrition. Last year the university reduced its library staff and cut 50 cleaning and maintenance jobs.
Mizzou’s 2016 football season drew almost 13,000 fewer attendees than in 2015, local media reported. During basketball games, one-third of the seats in the Mizzou Arena sat empty.
The university says its teams’ losing streaks have driven away fans, state budget cuts have strained its finances, and competition from other nearby universities has contributed to its lowered enrollment. But the protests were the truly catastrophic factor, compounding the other difficulties. Administrators saw it coming during the crisis, when they fretted in emails about “a PR nightmare” and “the middle of the road people we’re losing.” The past three semesters have validated their worst fears.
Even the mighty University of California, Berkeley, which touts itself as the leading public university in the world, is feeling the effects of toxic progressivism in the wake of violence and intimidation forcing the cancelation of talks by conservative speakers like Milo Yiannopoulos and Ben Shapiro. It turns out that the most lucrative students, those who apply from out of state and overseas and pay roughly triple the tuition California students pay, have stopped applying to Cal Berkeley in the numbers they used to. I found this information in an editorial from Colorado, which celebrates the relative sanity at the University of Colorado as compared to Berkeley. The Colorado Springs Gazette editorializes:
University of Colorado President Bruce Benson spoke Saturday about Berkeley’s flattering imitation, before presenting an award at the Steamboat Institute’s ninth annual Freedom Conference & Festival in Steamboat Springs. Benson had no idea another violent left-wing melee would erupt the next day just three blocks from the Berkeley campus.
The Steamboat Institute honored Benson with its “Courage in Education Award” last year, and he was on hand to give this year’s award to Lafayette College Assistant Prof. Brandon Van Dyck. . . .
CU has seen soaring application rates, after years of expanding intellectual diversity. The university has countered dwindling tax support by partnering with industries that need well-prepared graduates who think for themselves.
Benson and Boulder Chancellor Phil DiStefano welcome free speech and peaceable assembly, but do not tolerate lawlessness. They ended the university’s annual April 20 pot party, which had become an embarrassing brand for the campus, in part by spreading foul-smelling fish fertilizer on the Norlin Quad and ordering riot police to keep the peace. Contrast that with UC-Berkeley’s orders for cops to stand down as activists destroy property, cause bodily harm and otherwise break the law.
Universities known as circus arenas for radical activism struggle with declining enrollments. . . .
The Daily Californian reported in April that UC-Berkeley’s international applications declined this year for the first time in more than a decade, as well as out-of-state domestic applications. . . .
Writing for USA Today, University of Tennessee Law Professor Glenn Harlan Reynolds said universities harm their brands by accommodating unreasonable demands of activists.
As Professor Reynolds has been writing for years, higher education is being kept aloft by vast government subsidies, and by entrapping students in debt as the price of obtaining a credential believed essential to well compensated careers. This is an unsustainable bubble.
Colleges and universities must compete for students in order to keep paying their professors, administrators, and support staff. Sure, a relative handful of well endowed institutions like Harvard, Yale, and Princeton are so financially secure and still have residual prestige sufficient to attract full enrollments, but they account for less than one percent of total enrollment.
For the rest, sooner or later, even the well educated fools on campus will realize that caving in to progressives will cost them jobs. And sooner or later, Burlington College, which closed its doors after Bernie Sanders’s wife drove it into insolvency with her reckless and possibly fraudulent real estate deals, will be joined in its suicide by other colleges that cannot attract enough students to stay afloat. Tenure does a professor no good when the college goes bankrupt and closes its doors.
Voltaire’s ironic commentary from Candide can be transposed to academia, and it applies well to the survival of colleges: “In this country, it is wise to kill an admiral from time to time to encourage the others.”