mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
Are you PC?
Will PC Spur Higher Ed Reforms?

For the past few years, Americans have been having two separate debates about higher education. The first debate is about economics and allocation of resources: Is it worth going into debt to get a college degree, especially in the liberal arts? How much should colleges be subsidized by the state and federal government? Can alternative educational models render four-year brick-and-mortar institutions irrelevant—or, at least, less central?

The second debate is about political culture: Why are students and increasingly demanding that campus administrators shield them from material that might make them uncomfortable? Why is far-left identity politics becoming increasingly dominant on campus?

We may be approaching the point where these two debates converge. The student debt crisis is deepening, the payoff from the BA seems increasingly modest, and politicians are starting to talk more about alternatives to four-year universities, like apprenticeship programs. Meanwhile, the latest wave of campus political insanity seems to have reached a new intensity this week, with Yale students undertaking a collective, high-profile meltdown over, in part, Halloween costumes, and University of Missouri protesters forcing out their president and then harassing journalists who attempted to enter their “safe space.”

It seems inconceivable that parents and voters watching these kinds of events unfold will not have some doubts about the wisdom of the current structure and norms of the higher education system. The University of Missouri media studies professor who called for “muscle” to expel a student journalist from the “safe space” in a widely circulated video turns out to be the author of such important academic works as “The Romanticization of Abstinence: Fan Response to Sexual Restraint in the Twilight Series.” As Dave Weigel noted on Twitter, “if I were a GOP politician arguing for cuts to liberal arts funding, I couldn’t have dreamed up Melissa Click.”

In the same vein, taxpayers and parents must surely be wondering if it is wise to subsidize Yale university to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars (or more) per year when angry mobs of students, aggrieved at the university for not doing more to regulate (for example) Halloween costumes, scream things at their professors like, “it’s not about creating an intellectual space!”

None of this is to say that higher education as we know it will end tomorrow. But it seems plausible that the increasingly unhinged campus political scene will make voters and parents think harder about whether the current system is spending their resources efficiently, or whether its time to make fundamental structural reforms that reduce the BA’s role as gatekeeper to elite status in America.

Needless to say, this would be a good thing. The system currently in place is too expensive and too inefficient, and—on the evidence of the last few days—it is failing to achieve its most basic mission: prepare students for the real world.

Features Icon
Features
show comments
  • rheddles

    The best thing to be done is for the government to get out of the student loan, grant and student loan guarantee racket. This would introduce some market forces into the equation and inspire discipline and accountability. Then get rid of the Department of Education and Title IX.

    Starting to look like the Mizzou poopstika may be a hoax.

  • Blackbeard

    As a voter and a taxpayer I’d be happy to withdraw federal funding from what are, after all, bastions of leftist rightthink. But I despair that the Republicans will ever figure out how to do this.

  • seattleoutcast

    I am enjoying the spectacle as the revolution eats its children.

  • Pete

    The big picture is that a bunch of college athletes — some no doubt semi-literate — were allowed, under the banner of political correctness, to mau-mau a college president out of office.

    This will only strengthen and embolden the racist thought police across the nation.

    The world is upside down.

  • Anthony
  • Andrew Allison
  • J K Brown

    Wait, the Yale students are upset at some students self-identifying as someone other than their birth self for one night of the year. They are doing this at the same time that others are trying to ensure that men who self-identify as women can use the girls’ showers and restrooms.

  • J K Brown

    The passionate endeavors to eliminate the classical studies from the curriculum of the liberal education and thus virtually to destroy its very character were one of the major manifestations of the revival of the servile ideology.

    Mises, Ludwig von, The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality, 1956

  • Beauceron

    Well, you’re awfully optimistic.
    No one will dare object to the far left identity politics, because to even object or question it is itself deemed racist and offensive. Didn’t we learn that from the Chronicles pieces earlier this year?
    I’d also add that you, like many others, are completely misreading this movement. You assume it stems from students being these delicate wallflowers, hurt by every statement. They’re not. They are cold, calculating left-wing operators, using a process they know will work: bullying and coercion.

  • iconoclast

    Follow the hashtag #NationalOffendACollegeStudentDay on Twitter for hilarious satire on PC students.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service