The perniciousness of American universities

Continuing the theme of my last few posts regarding education, I thought I would share this article, “The tyranny of good intentions”, by Michael Barone. In it Barone discusses two books about American universities.

The first book “Mismatch” subtitled “”How Affirmative Action Hurts Students It’s Intended to Help, and Why Universities Won’t Admit It,” by law professor Richard Sander and journalist Stuart Taylor, brought back memories of my time as a peer counselor in college. “Mismatch”, Barone describes, documents:

beyond disagreement how university admissions offices’ racial quotas and preferences systematically put black and Hispanic students in schools where they are far less well-prepared than others.

As a result, they tend to get low grades, withdraw from science and math courses and drop out without graduating. The effect is particularly notable in law schools, where large numbers of blacks and Hispanics either drop out or fail to pass the bar exam.

This happens, Sander and Taylor argue, not because these students lack ability but because they’ve been thrown in with students of exceptional ability — the mismatch of the authors’ title. At schools where everyone has similar levels of test scores and preparation, these students do much better. And they don’t suffer the heartache of failure.

That was shown when California’s state universities temporarily obeyed a 1996 referendum banning racial quotas and preferences. UCLA Law School had fewer black students but just as many black graduates. The university system as a whole produced more black and Hispanic graduates.

Back in my college days as a counselor, I came across a number of minority students, who did not have the skills to pass the remedial courses and were subsequently forced to drop out. Some were even in the top percentile of their respective high school graduating class. This was my first run-in with education inequality.

The second book, “Unlearning Liberty,” written by president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, Greg Lukianoff, and subtitled “Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate,” discusses the impact of universities speech codes.

They are typically vague and all-encompassing. One school prohibits “actions or attitudes that threaten the welfare” of others. Another bans emails that “harass, annoy or otherwise inconvenience others.” Others ban “insensitive” communication, “inappropriate jokes” and “patronizing remarks.”

“Speech codes can only survive,” Lukianoff writes, “through selective enforcement.” Conservatives and religious students are typically targeted. But so are critics of administrators, like the student expelled for a Facebook posting critical of a proposed $30 million parking garage.

Students get the message: Keep your mouth shut. An Association of American Colleges and Universities survey of 24,000 students found that only 40 percent of freshmen thought it was “safe to hold unpopular views on campus.” An even lower 30 percent of seniors agreed.

How? One answer is that university personnel almost all share the same liberal-left beliefs. Many feel that contrary views and criticism are evil and should be stamped out

So institutions that once prided themselves as arenas for free exchange of ideas — and still advertise themselves as such — have become the least free part of our society.

I cannot adequately express my alarm at the thought of dissenting opinions being “stamped out.” I had heard stories of this fact but believed it was nowhere near as pervasive as the book reveals. It certainly explains how a near super majority of young voters tend to have the same belief system. As I look at this, universities are not just attacking free-speech, they are slowly eliminating free will and as William Ellery Channing wrote:

To extinguish the free will is to strike the conscience with death, for both have but one and the same life.

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3 Responses to The perniciousness of American universities

  1. …”they are slowly eliminating free will”….
    A theme we’ve approached many times, as well.
    Perfectly (and disturbingly) stated.

    Also, Barone is usually dead-on, and he doesn’t disappoint here, either.

    Very solid post, sir!

    Quick question: are you on Twitter? Can’t find you, if you are….?

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