Sean Kennedy, writing at The American Conservative, asks how a prestigious university like Berkeley could descend into such a chaotic state of irrelevance. He writes (abridged):
How did this prestigious university, known throughout the world as Cal-Berkeley or simply Berkeley, descend to such a state—its democratic governance subservient to student and faculty whims; its historic embrace of human freedom morphed into a libertine mantra for anyone who can portray “ze” self as aggrieved; its financial standing burdened by massive unfunded liabilities; and its annual budgets balanced on the backs of students?
Administrative overhead and pension costs are devouring the UC system’s budgets. Student-to-faculty ratios have climbed while high-demand courses are difficult to get into. Faculty salaries are becoming uncompetitive with peer institutions as pension costs crowd out salaries. Thus has the egalitarian principle been severely attenuated, with tuition and fee costs likely to exceed per-student expenditures in the next school year and with no direct state general fund subsidy for in-state students at all. Middle class attainability is slipping away as tuition and fees rise while the campuses cut their services and core course offerings.
Berkeley administrators have lost control of the campus to the most aggressive and determined students and outsiders bent on determining who can speak and who can’t. Violence and the threat of violence have narrowed the scope of discourse, with prospects of further narrowing in the face of administrative haplessness.
And the campus is beset by scandal, including the payment to a departing chancellor of $434,000 in “paid time off” and revelations that the UC system nurtured a $175 million “slush fund” while pleading financial distress and begging Sacramento for cash—all the while aggressively hiking tuition levels.
Read more here.