Mario Savio is spinning in his grave.
Readers of a certain age will remember Savio as one of the movers of Berkeley’s Free Speech Movement. Back then, liberals actually valued free speech because they believed (mistakenly) that they didn’t have it. Now that they run the higher education racket, they use free speech as a weapon against their opposition.
The recent lunatic confrontations at Missouri, Yale, Emory, Stanford, and other “institutions of higher learning” reflect a growing progressive animosity toward freedom of speech. Safe spaces, free speech zones, trigger warnings, and demands to muzzle conservative professors are all the rage now that the Left has turned college into day care and decided that children are entitled to have their progressive fantasies protected from criticism.
Asinine majors, “hate speech” codes that target religious freedom, and for-credit activities like Michigan’s “LGBTQ+ Health & Wellness Week” all demonstrate that college, like the old grey mare, just ain’t what she used to be. Open-mindedness has become empty-headedness.
This is partly because there are over 5,000 degree-granting institutions in the United States. Simply put, anyone can go to college and most anyone can go to most any college given our enthusiasm for a grotesquely twisted version of “diversity” and the manipulative and agenda-driven admissions policies that have come from it.
Having so many colleges and universities has diluted the product. The phrase “Cuban cigars” once described something superior but no longer does. Likewise, “college education” is misleading. The problem was nicely summed up by Inigo Montoya who said, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
He was right. We use “college education” as if it is the natural, inevitable, and most desirable follow up to high school. But is it?
The left-wing Huffington Post notes that “out of 41.7 million working college graduates of 2010 in the U.S., 48% worked jobs that didn’t require a bachelor’s degree.” That’s partly because of a bad economy, but mostly because bachelor’s degrees, especially in the liberal arts, don’t mean much anymore and employers know it.
Having two master’s degrees, I regret what has happened to the reality of higher education since political correctness took hold. But with progressives in charge, things can only get progressively worse. Relativism leads to nihilism (but that’s for another column).
If anything is to improve, we must reevaluate our biases. College education, like Cuban cigars, is living on past glory. We should stop pretending that getting into college is an accomplishment. With 5000 choices, it isn’t. And stop thinking of college as the only socially acceptable next step after high school. Drop the snob appeal. When college attendance was rare, that was understandable. Now it just strengthens the illusion that “college education” equals “higher education.”
High schools should cease bragging about how high a percentage of their graduates go to college and start bragging about how many go into the workforce to immediately become productive citizens.
Another thing: get the federal government out of the student loan business. That just raises costs and encourages students to take on crippling early debts.
Colleges acted in loco parentis until the 1960s. Freshmen couldn’t keep cars on campus. Girls had to follow strict dorm rules. Why? Because parents and college administrators all understood that kids needed solid adult guidance (and college students ARE kids). The dainty souls at Emory who were “traumatized” by seeing “Trump 2016” chalked on a sidewalk obviously still need solid adult guidance.
My advice to high school seniors: don’t go to college until you’ve done some growing up. Oh, and whether your college is “a good college” depends more on your effort than on its reputation.
College nowadays is little more than a four-year extension of adolescence. So first spend some time in the real world where there are no “safe spaces” and life will challenge you. You’ll be better for it.