Campus Scenes

Campus Scenes

Damaging Admissions

By 2.18.15

Opponents of charter schools have claimed that these schools are “cherry-picking” the students they admit, and that this explains why many charter schools get better educational results with less money than public schools do.

Many controversies about how students should be admitted to educational institutions, especially those supported by the taxpayers, betray a fundamental confusion about what these institutions are there for. This applies to both schools and colleges.

Admitting students strictly on the basis of their academic qualifications, which might seem to be common sense, is rejected by many college admissions committees.

A dean of admissions at Harvard, years ago, said, “the question we ask is: how well has this person used the opportunities available to him or her?” In other words, the issue is seen as which of the competing applicants are more deserving. Since some people have had far better educational opportunities than others, that is supposed to be taken into account in deciding whom to admit.

Campus Scenes

Divest UC of USA or Vice Versa?

By 2.16.15

The University of California Student Association has approved a resolution to direct UC regents to divest financially of the governments of Brazil, Egypt, Indonesia, Israel, Mexico, Russia, Turkey, Sri Lanka and the United States. “UC students did not give consent to invest in governments engaged in violence against others,” proclaimed the Resolution Toward Socially Responsible Investment at the University of California, targeting the above countries for human rights violations. The motion — which passed with nine yes votes, one no vote, and five abstentions — faulted the U.S. government for conducting drone strikes abroad, as well as the nation’s high incarceration rate and deportation policies.

My suggestion to these students would be that if they truly want to cleanse themselves from dirty American tax dollars, then they should not go to a state university or accept any grubby federal student aid. But it seems the whole point of being a UC student activist is to abandon all thought of regulating one’s own behavior in furtherance of telling everyone else how they should live.

Campus Scenes

Let’s Give Our Empty Pocket College Kids a Fighting Chance

By 2.13.15

What kind of a country have we become where a college graduate with empty pockets starts their working life burdened with a debt that will take them decades to pay off? If there was ever a reason to defrock politicians, it is for their inherent inability to remove the needless barrier of debt that impedes the best and the brightest, the most ambitious and creative among the lesser financially endowed.

I am viscerally offended by the fact that today’s students are stuck paying huge debts incurred getting a college degree and I keep wondering if my experience six decades ago is relevant to what college graduates have to look forward to in today’s world.

My College Days: A Stroll Down Memory Lane

Although I graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School, which is one of the elite high schools in New York, my marks were not exactly stellar. I was rejected by most colleges until thankfully being admitted to New York University’s uptown campus when it was on University Avenue in the Bronx.

Campus Scenes

Prohibition on Campus: In Loco Parentis Run Amok?

By 2.12.15

With colleges under growing pressure from the federal government under Title IX to reduce binge drinking and alcohol-related student misbehavior, Dartmouth College recently announced that it would ban hard liquor on campus.

The sexual assaults, fraternity hazing, and hospitalizations that have rocked campuses around the nation have often involved extreme intoxication, like the case of the former Vanderbilt football players convicted of raping an unconscious woman, or that of a Stanford swimmer recently accused of rape. 

Dartmouth isn’t the first school to ban hard alcohol — Bates and Bowdoin have similar rules — but it is the first Ivy League school to do so. Despite Dartmouth’s prominence as a member of the Ivy League, experts caution not to expect many institutions, if any, to follow its lead.

Campus Scenes

Free McCollege for All!

By 1.23.15

President Obama offered in this week’s State of the Union address that too few young Americans attend community college. If only more twentysomethings parlayed their GEDs into course work at Walla Walla Community College, judged the nation’s best by one account, then we might once again boast the most well-educated people on the planet.

One need not possess a B.A. from Columbia and a J.D. from Harvard Law to harbor skepticism.

Taking a utilitarian approach to higher education, President Obama cites jobs requiring degrees and the daunting price tag for them as rationalizations for his scheme. “That’s why I am sending this Congress a bold new plan to lower the cost of community college,” the president announced, “to zero.”

You get what you pay for.

Campus Scenes

In Defense of Liberal Arts

By From the Sept/Oct 2014 issue

Poor liberal arts. People don’t esteem the term—or its cousin, “liberal education”—very much these days, it seems. Evaluating the success or failure of an education now requires measurable outcomes, such as test scores or post-college employment. Learning is, more and more, about return on investment. K-12 education is increasingly focused on testing. In everyday conversation, the evaluation of a college major generally assumes the form of a question: “What can you do with that?”

This is a reasonable question, albeit one that liberal education finds itself mostly unable to answer. Conjuring the image of a thousand English majors working behind the counters of a thousand coffee shops, critics of liberal education demand to know what could possibly justify this outcome. Though the most popular major in America is, in fact, business, followed by the social sciences, nursing, education, and psychology—none of which are liberal arts subjects—it’s the useless liberal arts student, underemployed and deep in debt, that comes in for scrutiny.

Campus Scenes

How the Supreme Court Created the Student Loan Bubble

By From the Sept/Oct 2014 issue

Business reporters and talking heads are tripping over themselves to predict the next bubble. It’s the least they can do after so many of them fueled the dot-com and real-estate booms and busts that tanked the economy and robbed millions of Americans of their hard-earned (or at least borrowed) money. Many have identified higher education as the next Big One. College spending has all the makings of an economic bubble: supply that exceeds demand; a market wildly inflated by government intervention; a return on investment on par with a Tulsa, Oklahoma timeshare; art history. 

Campus Scenes

In Our Colleges and Schools Ignorance and Indoctrination Go Hand in Hand

By 10.15.14

Goddard College’s recent decision to have its students addressed from prison by a convicted cop killer is just one of many unbelievably irresponsible self-indulgences by “educators” in our schools and colleges.

Such “educators” teach minorities born with an incredibly valuable windfall gain — American citizenship — that they are victims who have a grievance against people today who have done nothing to them, because of what other people did in other times. If those individuals who feel aggrieved could sell their American citizenship to eager buyers from around the world and leave, everybody would probably be better off. Those who leave would get not only a substantial sum of money — probably $100,000 or more — they would also get a valuable dose of reality elsewhere.

Nothing is easier than to prove that America, or any other society of human beings, is far from being the perfect gem that any of us can conjure up in our imagination. But, when you look around the world today or look back through history, you can get a very painfully sobering sense of what a challenge it can be in the real world to maintain even common decency among human beings.

Campus Scenes

We Invited Ayaan Hirsi Ali to Yale—And Outrage Ensued

By 9.16.14

Just under three weeks ago, Yale President Peter Salovey delivered his freshman address on free expression. He quoted extensively from the Woodward Report, a document whose language he called “clear and unambiguous” in its defense of free speech, and he made the case for why “unfettered expression is so essential on a university campus.”

Our community now faces an opportunity to put these ideals into practice. The Buckley Program, an undergraduate group on campus, recently invited Ayaan Hirsi Ali to give a lecture this week. An accomplished and courageous woman, Hirsi Ali has an amazing story. She suffered genital mutilation as a child and later fled to the Netherlands to escape an arranged marriage. These are beyond mere “unfortunate circumstances,” as some organizations have called it. Once in the Netherlands, she worked at a refugee center, became a politician, fought for human dignity and women’s rights and ultimately abandoned her Muslim faith. In her works since then, she has voiced strong opinions against Islam, opinions which have provoked constant threats on her life ever since.

Campus Scenes

Notre Dame at a Crossroads

By 8.11.14

From the title, you may think I am referring to Notre Dame’s decision to invite President Obama to receive an honorary degree and deliver the commencement address to the graduating class of 2009. At the time, Obama had only his election to his credit while, to his discredit, were his pronounced pro-abortion views. The invitation led to intense and widespread criticism, including criticism from some 80 American Catholic bishops. It also led to the arrest on graduation day of the “Notre Dame 88” for trespass. Unthinkable was the arrest — at the behest of Notre Dame Security supervised by a Catholic priest who serves as president of the university — of an elderly priest for kneeling on a sidewalk on campus while praying a rosary.