Activist Tantrums — The New Campus Speech
Mizzou’s enrollment problems illustrate a larger point.
America is at a crossroads in choosing who rules: radicals or the rational. Institutions are standing at the same fork in the road, including colleges and universities that are finding the wrong choice is not just painful, it’s existentially devastating.
A letter was issued to “the university community” last week above the signature of the University of Missouri’s interim chancellor, Hank Foley, announcing a loss of almost 25% in Mizzou enrollment — a projected 1,500-person drop in the student body from last year. This hemorrhage of students translates into significant financial loss of $32 million from one calendar year to the next.
Congratulations, University of Missouri! You’ve become another victim of radical bullies, and willingly at that.
Remember last fall when the “Show Me” state’s flagship campus had both the president and chancellor resign after allegations of racism — some completely unsubstantiated — which sent the students, the Leftist tenure-protected faculty and the community of Columbia into a frenetic response fueled by political correctness and fear of being marginalized?
Within a matter of days, a campus located in middle-America, founded in 1839 as the first institution of higher learning west of the Mississippi River, was consumed by radical “protests” led by the “Black Lives Matter” mob. But news accounts speak of “student” protests, not professionally organized disruptions, right?
How far is Columbia, Missouri from Ferguson, Missouri? Just under two hours by car. And, while accounts include mentions of actual campus conflicts, the fuel of Ferguson exploded the sparks after, according to The Washington Post, MU graduate student Jonathan Butler declared a hunger strike and mobilized a campus group, Concerned Student 1950, by blocking traffic for three hours. Members of this empowered assembly linked their identity to the first year black students were admitted to the University of Missouri as they voiced their anger in 2014 with the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” mantra tied to the shooting of the black teenager, Michael Brown in their neighboring community.
Speaking to The Washington Post in November 2015, Butler drew Mizzou into the fray: “There was national coverage, so for the school to not cover that or really address that, and we are only two hours away, I think was a huge mistake on their part and contributed to the current cultural environment that we have. It just shows that there are racially motivated things — murders, assaults, other things — that happen and we are just going to sweep them under the rug.”
And, what responsibility, other than to provide a safe, academically challenging environment for its students, exists for universities? Well, in the minds of social justice warriors who plan to live their adult lives clamoring and agitating, activism is now the priority of an institution of higher learning where they engage in their inaugural uprisings.
Yet, at the University of Missouri, only 46% of its student body, according to US News and World Report, graduate in four years — at a cost of $19,000 annually for in-state students and $32,000 for out-of-staters.
So, the radicals won through thuggery the resignations of school officials at the University of Missouri, but the rational have taken their tuition dollars and aim to find academic excellence elsewhere.
At the University of Tennessee, another land-grant college, “leaders” continue to encounter these moments of decision … and choose badly. The Knoxville campus is home to an Office of Diversity and Inclusion that made 2015 headlines for its gender-neutral pronouns — no he nor she. Instead, the taxpayer-funded office issued a request last fall of students and faculty to use “ze, hir, hirs, and xe, xem, xyr” instead of singular versions of pronouns rejected by the “transgender people and people who do not identify within the gender binary … and pronouns of their gender identity, rather than the pronouns of the sex they were assigned at birth.”
The University of Tennessee’s quick reversal of insanity taught the Office of Diversity nothing. They finished 2015 with another directive to “ensure your holiday party is not a Christmas party in disguise” among a list of “best practices” for celebrating the holiday season.
Tennessee’s General Assembly has not just noticed the activism-over-academics encroachment in Knoxville, but is working to defund the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. As of March 3, the TN Senate Education Committee had passed legislation that would strip $8 million from the campus budget and limit the faculty committed to tolerance to only federal funding and zero Tennessee tax dollars. The proposal takes $5 million from the Knoxville campus budget and $3 million from administration and salaries from faculty at the main location as a firm statement to prioritize academics.
Whether it’s a loss of students and/or a loss in dollars, universities are demonstrating their mission by folding to minds and might that live off of self-esteem and radical ideology instead of standing firm as societal bodies devoted to education and professional preparation.
The term “university” originates from the Latin universitas magistrorum et scholarium which is translated to be a “community of teachers and scholars.”
America’s universities are now victims to their own failed government-dependent business models and Leftist teachings and are instead a community of “organizers” and agitators that don’t produce students prepared for professional employment. We have a graduating mass of entitled mouthy youths who feel good about themselves as they fail in life.
Will universities learn the costly lesson of reality to stick to their intended purpose, or will they self-destruct as public confidence is declining in this institution, along with so many other aspects of our society and government?
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