A Students Become Professors; C Students Are Donors
In July, a Gallup survey proclaimed that the usefulness of a college education has been in something of. A free fall for almost a decade. Compare 2015 with 57% of Americans expressing a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in higher ed, with today’s only 36% vote of confidence.
A Bipartisan Plunge in Trust
Trust in college is down among men and women, among Democrats and Republicans, according to Jason L. Riley in the WSJ. It’s also down among those with and those without a college degree.
The cost of attending college, which rose by 169% between 1980 and 2020, according to a Georgetown study, surely is a major factor in this trend. But so are radical campus politics, such as those displayed at some of our most prestigious institutions of learning since Hamas’s surprise attack on Israel earlier this month.
The Israeli civilians who were abducted, tortured, and killed—including women, children and senior citizens—weren’t bystanders caught in the crossfire. They were the intended targets.
Hamas Targeted Elementary Schools, Youth Centers
Entire families were executed in their homes. NBC News reported that documents recovered from the bodies of terrorists mapped the locations of elementary schools and youth centers and instructed the gunmen to “kill as many as possible” and “capture hostages.”
Denouncing the perpetrators of these wicked acts shouldn’t be difficult, yet the response on too many campuses has been to fault Israel for the atrocities or to equivocate.
Using Harvard as an example: a coalition of 30 left-wing student groups issued an open letter stating that the Israeli “regime” was “entirely responsible for all unfolding violence.”
Why, as Mr. Riley notes, has it taken “Harvard’s president, Claudine Gay, three tries (and counting) to issue a statement distancing the administration from the letter and making it clear that the university condemns the terrorist attacks”?
Worse, Ms. Gay acted only after being pressured to do so by former Harvard president Larry Summers and some of the school’s biggest donors.
Harvard is not an outlier. “University of Pennsylvania president M. Elizabeth Magill likewise needed multiple attempts to issue a forceful statement on the terror attacks,” reports Mr. Riley.
(Presiden Magill), too, found her moral compass only after megadonors to Penn said they were closing their checkbooks and urging other philanthropists to do the same. “In an updated statement following the backlash, Magill condemned Hamas, and emphasized the University’s position on anti-Semitism,” the Daily Mail reported. “She referred to the violence from Hamas as a ‘terrorist assault,’ a change from her initial statement.”
In response to this moral waffling, Ben Sasse, president of University of Florida, was unequivocal in his reply:
President Ben Sasse (U/Florida):
“I will not tiptoe around this simple fact: What Hamas did is evil and there is no defense for terrorism. This shouldn’t be hard,”
Choose Your Pronouns Carefully?
Apparently, observes Mr. Riley, “calling out evil is harder than you might think, not only for administrators and students but also for faculty members.”
Cornell: A history professor appearing at a pro-Palestinian rally this week referred to Hamas’s butchery as “exhilarating” and “energizing.”
Columbia: Political scientist Joseph Massad described the attack on Israel, which resulted in the deaths of more than 1,400 people, including at least 30 U.S. citizens, as “awesome” and a “major achievement of the resistance.”
Stanford: CNN reports that a Stanford instructor was suspended after students reported that he singled out Jews in his class by asking them to raise their hands, accused them of being “colonizers,” and played down the significance of the Holocaust’s body count.
Jason Riley also notes how academia has been an “incubator of leftist causes going back at least as far as the 1960s.”
Since that time, however, double standards have proliferated in admissions and faculty hiring. Ideology has become more important than scholarship, and political correctness dominates decision-making to the point that calling an act of terror an act of terror is to risk upsetting significant numbers of students and faculty.
Many administrators are captive to those on campus who believe that higher education is about indoctrination and thought control rather than open inquiry, civil engagement and the rational examination of competing viewpoints.
The old joke among college presidents is that A students become their professors, while C students become their donors. We’re starting to see some donors throw their weight around. Let’s hope it continues.