Bradford Richardson, The Washington Times, September 14, 2017
Universities known for being hotbeds of campus protest and liberal activism are struggling with declining enrollments and budget shortfalls, and higher education analysts say that’s no coincidence.
Take Oberlin College. According to a document leaked to The Oberlin Review, the school’s student newspaper, the small liberal arts college famous for social justice hoaxes has had trouble attracting and retaining students, missing this year’s enrollment mark by 80 and racking up a $5 million budget deficit in the process.
A study published by the Washington-based Pew Research Center in July found that just 36 percent of Republicans believe colleges and universities have a positive effect on the country, down from 54 percent two years ago.
Declining enrollments have previously been observed at colleges and universities that became notorious for chaotic campus activism, including the University of Missouri and Evergreen State College.
By some estimates, enrollment at the former is down 35 percent since fall 2015, when student protests helped launch the Black Lives Matter movement.
Meanwhile, Evergreen faces a $2.1 million budget shortfall this year since students took over the campus last spring, barricading themselves in the library, berating administrators on a regular basis and forcing one dissenting professor to teach off campus out of fear for his safety.
A spokesperson for Oberlin College did not respond to a request for comment from The Washington Times.
The school’s problems cannot be traced to a single incident but to several.
In February 2013, mass hysteria ensued after racist and anti-Semitic flyers and graffiti began to appear all over campus. Classes were canceled, meetings were held and students began to see racism around every corner, including when someone reported seeing a member of the Ku Klux Klan on campus. It turned out to be a woman walking around wrapped in a blanket to keep warm.
Not only that, the perpetrators behind the racist paraphernalia turned out to be two progressive students, one of whom was confirmed to be an Obama supporter, trying to get a reaction out of their classmates and the administration.
Rather than admit the whole thing was a hoax and move on, the Oberlin administration doubled down on a social justice agenda, including the implementation of a privilege and oppression “reorientation” for first-year students.
Last November, Oberlin students targeted Gibson’s Bakery, a beloved store in Oberlin, Ohio, after an employee called police when he saw someone attempting to shoplift by concealing two bottles of wine under his jacket. The accused shoplifter turned out to be a black Oberlin student.
The Black Student Union, Oberlin Student Senate and College Democrats spearheaded a boycott of the bakery and organized protests outside of the store. Even the Oberlin administration, responding to calls from Black Lives Matter supporters on campus, stopped purchasing goods from the bakery.
Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars, said that drop-off is more serious than it may appear.
He said Oberlin can easily recoup the $5 million deficit by cutting the “apparatus of political correctness” that has swelled in the past several years. When that happens, he said, it will be a sign that the school is serious about reform.
“The signal that I would look for is when they begin to divest from the large number of personnel who are employed wholly because of their political orientations,” he said. “When that happens, I think we will have seen a college that has decided to reposition itself in the market. Until then, it’s all just show.”