Universities will have big changes in the post-peak COVID-19 (PPC-19) era. We are not sure they are convinced of it yet as our former school is emphasizing increasing its diversity police. Universities are not fully a free market but the market will have a big impact on them at the margin because tuition is a large portion of university revenue. There are some great ideas. Charles Lipton at Real Clear Politicsis worth reading several times. Will anyone listen to him?
Steven Hayward has a terrific statement that a fellow conservative is going to use as a preface to his introductory history course. We an interested and excited to see the outcome of such a statement. The big question is what will the administration (department chair, dean, and CEO) do when the students protest?
Mark Hemingway at Real Clear Investigations tells us of an alternative that is not market based. Mark says:
Currently, the conservative National Association of Scholars is working with four states – Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, and Arizona – to go further: pass laws to increase “intellectual diversity” at public universities.
It is clear that the right can succumb to the siren call of fascism. We are not in favor of people with guns enforcing intellectual diversity. It shows that groups respond ro the problem that the university has created.
TaxProf Blog reprints an op-ed from Arlene S. Kanter that asks if professors can be forced back on campus in PPC-19. She convinces us that the answer is no. At the very least there will be professors that litigate such coercion. Faculty and student demands related to protecting them from COVID-19 adds another element to the chaos that PPC-19 will produce.
Our background is in a public university so we will consider them only. Here is the situation as the 2020-21 school year approaches. They are largely controlled by folks accepting of the far left mob although there are pockets of conservatism as in Steven’s report. State universities have severe budget problems because of tuition shortfalls and state budget shortfalls. On average, state representatives are closer to the center than the university. So are the parents of students. Thus, we see potential solutions like forced intellectual diversity that Mark discusses. We will also see reduced attendance in the fall. Nobody knows how much.
Charles has a much better idea but it is much more difficult. Of course, the main problem is getting the university to reject the demands of the mob. Do read all of what Charles says. We would suggest that you give a copy to any administrator you work with or know. He says:
Universities must publicly reassert the first principle of academic inquiry: free and open debate is essential to research and learning. Bad arguments should be rebutted with better ones, bad data and methods with better ones. How do we know which arguments, data, and methods are bad? Only through vigorous debate.
The statement that Steven reports says that and more. He goes on to say there must be a safe harbor for faculty members. Again, this would require administration to stand up to the mob. He suggests that state legislators can help by insisting that universities adhere to the First Amendment. Charles doesn’t mention it but FIRE can help too. We like his ideas but we don’t know if the administrators are up to them.
We think that the budget problems will be exacerbated by the mob because most administrators will not, at least initially, stand up to them. Students will stay away so they don’t run afoul of the mob. As universities approach the brink of failure what will happen? Will the state close several campuses to save the rest? Will some administrators with backbones lead the way? Will the state insist on leadership?
We expect there will be different outcomes in different places. We are sure that there will be big changes.