Two years ago, the racial conflagration in Ferguson, Missouri spread onto the state’s flagship University of Missouri campus, leading to physical altercations, screaming matches, intimidation of both white and black students based on race, a “poop swastika” apparently aimed at Jews, and a list of race-based “demands” that quickly migrated to other campuses around the country.
Now The New York Times reports that freshman enrollment is down 35 percent, requiring the university to slash budgets, cut positions, and turn dorms into hotels. Evergreen College, which featured similar race riots earlier this spring, “is the only state four-year higher education institution to see enrollment drop steeply since 2011 despite wide-open admission standards,” according to the Seattle Times. NYT attributes Mizzou’s slide to anger on both sides, from parents and students frustrated the university didn’t go far enough in aquiescing to student demands to hire more people of politically preferred skin colors to parents and students frustrated the university let students rampage about campus.
Surely the anger at Mizzou is bipartisan, but given new data out from Pew showing a dramatic decline in Republicans support for colleges since 2015, it seems likeliest that conservatives’ frustrations about the college kowtowing to far-left campus radicals’ hissy fits are deeper and wider than that of those who think Mizzou is institutionally racist because a handful of people on a 35,000-student campus have spoken racial slurs.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence conservatives’ opinions about higher education took a nosedive starting in 2015 and continuing in 2016. These were precisely the years campus tantrums began and spread, and a 2016 timeline of campus protests from The Atlantic pins the University of Missouri as the first host. Indeed, as soon as Mizzou president Tim Wolfe resigned in capitulation to incoherent and racist student demands, the conflagration immediately spread to other campuses.
2015 was the year of “the demands,” a list student activists typically affiliated with Black Lives Matter eventually replicated on 80 college campuses. Mizzou’s “demands” included the resignation of Wolfe after he publicly admitted his “white privilege” and instituted race-based hiring quotas for campus staff and faculty. Demands at Yale University, where “racial justice” screamfests shortly broke out over a campus lecturer suggesting students were mature enough to plan their own Halloween costumes, included similar calls for distribution of campus resources based on race.
Normal people watching this saw some of the most privileged teenagers in the world — Yale undergraduates — scream cursewords and vicious accusations at professors, and their university, purportedly one of the nation’s leading institutions, reward the tantrum-throwers for “improving race relations” after quietly letting the professors go. They saw students chase down and attack an elderly campus guest and professor, giving the professor whiplash, then menacingly thump their SUV and roll concrete traffic weights in their way as they attempted to get away from the bedlam. They watched students at a public college menacingly circle a professor and scream racial epithets at him, march around campus shouting “Black power” with fists pumped, barricade public buildings against police, and hold the college president hostage while presenting him their “demands for racial justice.”
At Pomona College (and elsewhere), students in their demands claimed that the concept of truth is itself racist.
The idea that there is a single truth—‘the Truth’—is a construct of the Euro-West that is deeply rooted in the Enlightenment . . . This construction is a myth and white supremacy, imperialism, colonization, capitalism, and the United States of America are all of its progeny. The idea that the truth is an entity for which we must search, in matters that endanger our abilities to exist in open spaces, is an attempt to silence oppressed peoples.
Now, combine this insanity with the well-known realities, some of which my colleague Gracy Olmstead pointed out yesterday, that college students more often graduate a year or two late, with an average of nearly $30,000 in debt, after learning little or even declining in knowledge, and often with hardly better job prospects than those they faced at the end of high school. Partly this is because college students spend more time on leisure activities — including anti-social agitation — than they do studying or in class. That is not a joke or exaggeration, it’s from Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
To top it all off, two in five people who enter college won’t graduate.
Folks, this is garbage. U.S. taxpayers are spending an annual $4 trillion on higher education in this country, and these are the outcomes. And everyone paying attention has caught on to that by now. I think it’s a factor in the 6 percent decline in college enrollment we’ve seen between 2010 and 2015 (latest figures).
Federal projections say the dip is temporary, but I’m not sure about that. For one, we haven’t yet gotten the protest-era data yet. Second, the era of college-age millennials is thankfully over, and the young people now in college and soon entering it are considered by demographers the most conservative generation since the Greatest Generation that won World War II. The self-styled social-justice agitators may be loud, but they are a decided minority.
Eighty-four percent of Generation Z call themselves fiscally moderate or conservative, and 75 percent want to limit government overreach. Those who were voting age broke for Donald Trump by 15 points in 2016. They are skeptical about the value of college and entrepreneurial — 75 percent plan to work for themselves and nearly half want to start their own business, say demographers Corey Seemiller and Meghan Grace. They also have been embedded in the Internet Age since birth, meaning they are very aware of the climate on campuses and around the world. They have also already encountered academic bias in K-12, and they don’t like it.
People who fit this kind of profile are not exactly the kind of people likely to just trundle off unthinkingly to college as the given “next step.” That was millennials, and it hasn’t gone so well for them. The negative publicity current college students have generated for their institutions is well-deserved, and it’s been so publicized that I wouldn’t be surprised to see Mizzou’s enrollment drop turn out to be a canary in the coal mine.