Our universities must return to their original purpose: to seek the truth and give youths the knowledge they need to flourish. Here are four ways to do that.
The exposed antisemitism and congressional testimony are just one piece in a long line of evidence of rot in many of our universities. It was Penn, for instance, that allowed a biological male to move from a mediocre male on the men's team to a super star performer on the women's team. This was not the pursuit of truth, but the epitome of living a lie. Add pronoun enforcement, identity obsession and DEI into the mix, and there is very little time left for the pursuit of truth. I hope this is a much broader awakening than this one event.
Sometimes it frightens me how astute Bari Weiss is. I find myself nodding my head as I read everything she writes. Bari Weiss and the Free Press gives me hope that all is not lost. There is still a sliver of sanity out there.
I agree 100% on "ending DEI." I think that is the one solid action that we can take to start to see real change. DEI is the great trojan horse to where a systematic destruction of values can be introduced to the populace right underneath our very noses. ex: the trans-movement
BW: it is not enough to start basic education in universities - start with our elementary schools captured by totalitarian unions. Also, since you mentioned that the role of universities president is to raise donations, you need to consider the sources and influence they carry. Lately, it came to light that immense amounts came from foreign countries, mainly China, and Arab countries. Just like political donations, they should be regulated and limited, but more effectively.
These DEI departments are steeped in pathological altruism. They must be dismantled and rooted out or it will most certainly ruin these institutions.
I'd go one step further. Right now the ratio for university leadership leaning liberal/very liberal to conservative of about 28:1. Universities must work to balance this or they will never change. These progressive university leaders and their boards are a modern day Orval Faubus for libertarian & conservative students/faculty on their campuses IMO.
Bill Ackman has been pressing hard both verbally and financially to end DEI at Harvard, but I'm just not optimistic any this will change no matter how much money you threaten to keep from them.
Rufo is pointing out serial plagiarism in the PhD. thesis of Harvard’s current president.
Bari- this piece of your article is core.
“Another good cause that schools might take up is the teaching of reading and math.” Exactly right.”
Agreed. Politics doesn’t belong in schools and it doesn’t belong in Publicly Funded or Publicly Traded businesses. The purpose of education is the acquisition of and contribution to knowledge, reasoned and data based learning, the building of skills with which to earn a living, and to prepare people to contribute to a society whose values are enshrined in its constitution.
Totally agree that DEI must be undone. Pursuing truth is important but it is not the only element of restoring sanity to higher learning and the country. For 240 years the United States delivered more to more people than any society in the history of the world based on one focus, meritocracy. Over the last decade a battle has emerged to replace meritocracy with aiding victims. Victims have been defined by political forces and outside influences. Blacks, Native Americans, Student Loan holders, Single parent family children, Trans people, refugees and on and on. The concept of having to work to achieve success in a place where that is possible in many quarters has been swept aside. A prominent pungent example in my mind is the recent attempt by the mayor of NY to move busloads of migrants to housing that had been created to accommodate the influs and being challemged by the migrants that where they were taken wasn’t good enough and too far to be convenient. Outside influences have steered many instituions away from pursuit of truth which must be fixed. However, that is only a part of the huge effort that has been level at eliminating meritocracy from American culture.
“if large numbers of students and professors had marched through the campus of Penn over the past two months saying that all black people should go back to Africa and whoever remains should be subjected to genocide. Should the president of Penn defend those people merely as exercising their rights to free speech?”
The key thing is that, if she were true to the principles she invoked in her testimony, she would have. But everyone knows that in fact she would not have. The ugly truth of the ideology was thus exposed: things like calling for genocide are actually okay - just as long as it’s genocide of the right people.
Nice ideas but why would anyone think any of this is going to happen? Harvard, for example, is one of the most famous and successful corporations in the world. Harvard is not “profitable” in a technical accounting sense since it is a “nonprofit” but its wealth and income, all tax exempt, are staggering. Does anyone seriously believe that the Blues are going to let anyone touch these jewels in their crown?
"It means banning the loyalty oaths professors must pledge to earn a job or tenure.". These are nothing more than a pledge to be a loyal Democrat. ASU requires these in about90% of their non-custodial positions. I mentioned this to a friend recently retired from ASU’s faculty and he argued DIE pledges were not at all related to being Democrat. When I told him that 70% of independents and 95% of Republicans were unwilling to take them he said that was their issue.
As I have posted several times, the answer to these problems lies in the words of Thomas Sowell: it is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than placing those decisions in the hands of those who bear no penalty for being wrong.
In any private enterprise you can name, the government is congenitally incapable of doing anything right. By shielding institutions of, ahem, higher learning from normal tax laws, they have effectively once again picked the winners and the losers. The upshot is that these colleges have amassed unimaginable fortunes that continue to grow, essentially making them hedge funds with colleges attached. And what do people with too much money and too much time on their hands do? Well, if they're bored, be assured that Satan finds work for them.
We need to tighten up our thinking about apparent double standards as Andrew Sullivan does for us in his Weekly Dish of Dec. 8:
These are not double standards. There is a single standard: It is fine to malign, abuse and denigrate “oppressors” and forbidden to do so against the “oppressed.”
That's an important distinction. When people are applying a double standard, it makes them uncomfortable to have the inconsistency pointed out. They usually deny it or try to rationalize it away. However, the people driving the lopsided systems of inhibition at universities (not necessarily the presidents) are quite comfortable with what they're doing. It's blatantly discriminatory, but the discrimination is the point. They make a virtue of it. The whole idea is to sit on some people while letting others run rampant. It's all in a day's decentering.
As Bari argues here, the universities must be made to understand (as Pres. Magill of Penn clearly didn't, after being challenged) that it's no use trying to manage their difficulties by moving Jews from the roster of oppressors to the roster of the oppressed. It's that the whole disingenuous DEI game must come to an end.
Bari writes "[t]he point here is that even if Claudine Gay follows Liz Magill’s lead and resigns, it won’t make a difference if the person who replaces her upholds the same ideology so powerfully captured in Gay’s own memo." True but the real point is that until Harvard actually fires Gay and resolves to forswear hiring any more leftist intellectual lightweights we will know that universities remain little more than Red Guard training facilities, loyal only to the Internationale. While we were all asleep, raising families, working and living our lives. these leftist termites bore deeply into our institutions at all levels - universities NGOs, foundations, thinktanks and professional organizations and, worst of all , the bureaucracy on every level. They must all be cleaned out.
Oh and Bari - NO MORE LINKS TO THE ODIOUS NEW YORK TIMES, PLEASE. You left that joke of a "newspaper" because it wasn't any longer.
All great solutions, Bari. But I believe Matthias Dopfner's solution must precede any of your recommendations: parents must send their children elsewhere. Elite universities and higher education in general have been living on the gravy train for decades. For the past two decades college tuition is second only to healthcare costs according to this famous chart of soaring costs from Carpe Diem: https://www.aei.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/cpi2022junea-3.png?x91208
Higher Ed will not change unless forced to do so by empty classrooms.
What does Academic Freedom mean? At any job, you get paid to do something. At a University, you get paid to teach students. Your measurement of success is how well the students learn and enjoy the experience they are paying for. The school should have standards defining what learning is and how students must work to achieve that. And one should get measured against it. But tenure and "Academic Freedom" allow arrogance to flourish, and if one does not have to worry about getting fired, many have a strong desire not to want to do their jobs.
This is the issue at places of higher learning; they have become focused on personality, politics, and ideology rather than what they get paid to do. When you have no fear of getting fired, people become arrogant, and that power dynamic can create traits in students that are less than ideal. The three Presidents got those jobs not because of their success but because they played the game and favored the accepted dogma of the day.
Fear of termination is a great motivator to do the right things, and anyone immune from that tends to fail to be a team player. I think Madison's maxim, if "All men were angels, there would be no need for government," should apply here. That will take leadership to implement and hopefully get these places back to what they are designed to be.