Monday, October 09, 2006

Why Universities Are Losing Political Support: Three Examples

By Richard Vedder

Universities have been complaining for years about what they perceive to be inadequate public support. State universities complain that legislative appropriations are showing no growth in real per student terms. The private research universities lament sluggish growth in federal research funds. We are told the universities are creating the next generation of our nation's leaders and extending the frontiers of science, but paltry public support is jeopardizing our future quality of life. University presidents shake their heads in sorrowful wonderment at the shortsightedness of our political leaders.

One reason why governmental support is increasingly hard to come by is that universities and their coordinating bodies often behave irresponsibly, taking actions that most Americans view as inappropriate or unwise. Three examples that have surfaced over the past couple of weeks make this point.

In Ohio, there is a ballot initiative pushed by gambling interests that would allow more gambling at race tracks and other venues, with the state's take of the proceeds to be earmarked for higher education scholarships. The State's Board of Regents has publicly said it was taking no stand on the issue, yet weekend revelations show that emails from the Regents office reveal that its staff has been working hand-in-glove with the proponents. Moreover, one member of the Board of Regents is a paid lobbyist for the gambling interests. I think the proposal itself can be attacked on a variety of grounds, but what is particularly disturbing is the lying -- saying "we are neutral" and simultaneously working behind the scene for the amendment's passage.

I read in this morning's Inside Higher Ed that the nation's college admissions officers are continuing to do their bit to weaken American higher education. A few days ago, it was reported that several schools are dropping the SAT exam, an instrument with proven value as a forecaster of likely college success. Now, however, we learn that some schools are considering extending the already highly dubious affirmative action concept to incorporate special treatment for gays. At Middlebury College, other things equal, I learn that you are more likely to be admitted if you profess you are homosexual than if you profess that you are heterosexual or, are silent as to sexual preferences. Choosing students for colleges partially on the basis of who they want to sleep with is a bad idea, in my judgment, and my guess is that most Americans would not like this either. Middlebury is a private school, and can do what it wishes, but I suspect actions like these have negative spillover effects that hurt all of higher education in terms of building public support.

Finally, at Ohio University (where I teach), the Columbus Dispatch revealed a week ago that 17 football players (14 percent of the total) have been arrested for various crimes in 2006. Bad enough. But the story also showed that NONE of them had missed one minute of football play for legal transgressions, even a player who beat up another person (and former football player) after being kicked out of a bar for disorderly conduct. The University's first response was to say the coach's punishment (that the players had to STUDY for a few days in his office) was severe enough. Fortunately, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees (Greg Browning) was furious enough that he roused an usually somnolent board into action, forcing the Administration to finally crack down and suspend a few players.

While these incidents mainly hurt the affected schools (e.g., Middlebury and Ohio) the most, they reflect poorly on higher education in general and make legislators and Members of Congress ask: why do we want to subsidize this type of behavior?


Anonymous said...

I have many examples of this obscenity of neutrality yet support in my part of the world.

In 2004, we had a community college president write an op-ed in the local newspaper say, "As a community college president, I cannot advise you how to vote." but had actually written about 750 words for an initiative for more education funding.

Several days later, the Skagit Valley Herald had a letter to the editor titled "Ignore tax grab, vote no on 1-884" that included,

"Furthermore, as a “crisis” in higher education looms – according to SVC public documents: The same President and SVC Trustees unashamedly conduct retreats at ritzy restaurants that, counting trustee per diem & mileage, charged at least $2,670.48 to the taxpayers in these hard economic times since 12 June 2003 (there is also a $216.96 receipt for the 26 Aug. 2004 ritzy restaurant retreat). Removing the Presidential Search monies, there have been no cuts in the last 3 trustee budgets while tuition (a tax) goes up. Yet, they want more of your tax dollars."

The initiative fell flat 60-40, against.

Anonymous said...

Here's another example:

Oct. 9, 2006: Seattle Times Editorial
Values at BCC
BELLEVUE Community College's newly minted vice president of equity and pluralism and an increased emphasis at the school on diversity are welcomed signs.
. . .
Under the leadership of President Jean Floten, the school has spent the past decade refining a culture that promotes diversity and equal opportunity in education.
Unfortunately, these noteworthy goals have been eclipsed lately by the controversy ignited when a professor wrote a racially insulting math problem last April.
This page characterized the instructor's actions then as stupid but not an indication of systemic racism at BCC. We still believe that is the case. Bigots are not running rampant at BCC.
- - - - - - - -
Oh, so "Bigots are not running rampant at BCC" but BCC stills need a Vice President position. I'll have to check and see what the ka-ching on that is and get back to you.

Great, timely blog BTW.

Jean Marc Perez said...

"We are told the universities are creating the next generation of our nation's leaders and extending the frontiers of science, but paltry public support is jeopardizing our future quality of life."

It isn't the public that is jeopardizing anything. The public is merely reacting to the direction our universities are moving in. The Ward Churchills, professors that accuse the U.S. of attacking itself, Columbia University shouting down those they disagree with, UW accusing Pappy Boyington of being just another white, cracker-ass baby killer, Title IX, etc. If California can afford to send illegals to state universities - How much funding is needed?

Let's face it - colleges and universities are more and more being seen as a breeding ground for left wing nut jobs And the radical left wingers get the press and the support of the other left wing nut jobs. So the universities and their professors are doing it to themselves – and the mainstream public reacts to that. So I think you are the pot calling the kettle black.

I believe I recall you pontificating on rising tuition costs. Yet you also apparently think that a second mortgage and barrowing isn’t enough – we, the public should also pay additional funds for God knows what.

The Following is From:

What You Won't Learn in College:

Colleges and universities are supposed to be places of debate and intellectual discourse, but most campuses these days are not. Instead, too many college classes are about gender theory, post-modernism, the oppression of peoples, and the evils of capitalism.

The problem is not only what students are taught and the way leftwing professors cram leftwing propaganda down the students' throats. It is what they are not taught that is most disturbing. Too often college students will not ever hear of the classical philosophers, the virtues of the market economy, or the role Christianity played in the history of Western civilization in liberating blacks and giving women rights unheard of in the rest of the world.

Most college students will not hear about the role Ronald Reagan, the most important president in the 20th century, played in ending the Cold War. Most students will hear a lot about McCarthyism but nothing about the Venona tapes that proved there was large-scale Communist espionage penetration into the highest levels of the U.S. government.

Students in Literature classes will read the latest novels about alienation, oppression, suicide and sex, but they won't encounter the novels of James Fenimore Cooper, Joseph Conrad, or Dostoevsky. In most Economics courses, students will not encounter Friedrich von Hayek's famous, landmark book The Road to Serfdom or find out about the success of a free-market economy. If students encounter religion in their classes, the subject is often treated as cultural superstition opposed to scientific reason.

This censorship of the great works written in the English language and of the accomplishments of Western civilization means that our young people don't learn about our great American heritage and why it is that people want to come here from all over the world. That's why it's up to parents to give conservative books and magazines to their children, and take them to hear conservative speakers, so they will learn the things they won't learn in college.

Young America's Foundation made a survey of courses taught at prestigious colleges, both private and public, and came up with an incredible list of truly bizarre subjects. Here are the titles of the courses that Young America's Foundation listed as its "Dirty Dozen" courses.

At Harvard, students can take a course in "Marxist Concepts of Racism." Karl Marx didn't say much about racism, but that course is an excuse for a left-wing professor to talk about racism. At John Hopkins, students can take a course in "Sex, Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll in Ancient Egypt." That course offers a slide show of Egyptian women drunk and vomiting. Princeton University students can study "The Cultural Production of Early Modern Women," covering prostitution and cross-dressing in 16th and 17th century England, France, Italy and Spain.

Marxism, homosexuality and racial theory are recurrent themes in college classes. Here is another shocking course title: "The Unbearable Whiteness of Barbie: Race and Popular Culture in the United States" in which students are taught that so-called "scientific racism" was used to market the Barbie doll. Students at the University of California at Los Angeles can take "The Psychology of the Lesbian Experience," a course that includes study of the so-called "impact of heterosexism/stigma." Swarthmore College offers a course in "Lesbian Novels Since World War II."

Other courses that made the "Dirty Dozen" list include Amherst College's "Taking Marx Seriously: Should Marx Be Given Yet Another Chance?", Brown University's "Black Lavender: A Study of Black Gay and Lesbian Plays," and the University of Michigan's course called "Ancient Greek to Modern Gay Sexuality."

One reason college tuition is so high is that colleges are paying high-priced professors to teach this radical nonsense.

State Universities Cheat Americans:

The University of Illinois is maintained and financed by the taxpayers of Illinois to the tune of $700 million a year, and university officials are constantly pleading for increases. This year, the University of Illinois received 23,300 applications for the 7,100 freshman slots available. Fewer than one out of three freshmen are accepted; the University chooses the lucky ones to attend this outstanding university.

The University of Illinois seems to favor admitting foreign students rather than Americans. Students from India, Pakistan, China, Korea and dozens of other countries make up 12% of the student body. The university trustees are currently planning to increase foreign students to 25% of the student body, and at the same time reduce the freshman class by 1,000 students.

This means that many hundreds of qualified Illinois students will be denied admission to the tax-supported university in their own state in favor of admitting foreigners from all over the world. The university chancellor brags about his policy, saying that it is "our responsibility to all of our students regardless of where they are from." Sorry, Mr. Chancellor, you've got your priorities all backwards. Your first responsibility is to the taxpayers of Illinois. There is nothing wrong with admitting some foreign students, but it is just plain wrong to admit such a high percentage of foreigners over qualified Illinois students.

One bad effect of this policy is that the university hires the foreigners to teach math and science courses. One of the most frequent complaints I hear on college campuses is that so many math and science instructors don't speak intelligible English. This is a terrible cheat on the students and on the Illinois taxpayers. State universities have the obligation to provide math and science instructors whose native language is English. The way to assure this is admit more Americans rather than foreigners to get their college degrees in math and science.

It is a major national security problem that the United States is not graduating anywhere near enough students in engineering, math and science. Why is anybody surprised that Americans don't want to take courses taught by instructors who can't speak English? Universities have the obligation to provide instructors who can speak good English.

"While these incidents mainly hurt the affected schools (e.g., Middlebury and Ohio) the most, they reflect poorly on higher education in general and make legislators and Members of Congress ask: why do we want to subsidize this type of behavior?" Well, no kidding. The public is asking them selves the same question. Clean up your own house before you bitch about your neighbor.

Karen said...

"Moreover, one member of the Board of Regents is a paid lobbyist for the gambling interests."

Is that so? I believe you purposely forgot to mention that the so called "lobbyist" is a FORMER regent. So you're kind of "making things up", hmmm..?

Report: Staffers at Regents board helped write gambling issue

Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Staffers at the Ohio Board of Regents helped gambling proponents write part of a ballot issue that would allow slot machines at race tracks and elsewhere in the state, according to e-mails obtained by The Columbus Dispatch.

The campaign behind Issue 3, dubbed Learn and Earn, would set aside about 30 percent of annual gambling profits - $852 million a year, supporters say - for college scholarships.

Regents staff members helped craft the scholarship language at the request of former regent Victor Goodman, a Columbus lawyer working with gambling proponents, The Dispatch reported in a story published Sunday.

The Board of Regents oversees Ohio's colleges.

Vice Chancellor Rich Petrick characterized the work for gambling proponents as providing information about a financial aid program that regents staff members had been working on for years and that the regents called Learn and Earn several years ago.

"We get requests from all kinds of constituents, and we try to fulfill those requests to the best of our ability," Petrick told the newspaper. "We were already developing Learn and Earn, and we were able to refine it more than we had done before."

Goodman said he told the board that gambling interests wanted to pattern the education component of their proposal after the board's Learn and Earn model.

"The issues we brought to the staff were: 'Does our program work? Have we properly described the way to make it work, and will it effectively carry out the program?'" he said.

In a Dec. 6, 2005 e-mail to staffers marked confidential, Petrick laid out a scenario "of the Learn and Earn idea" that included setting aside special scholarships for 5 percent of each high school graduating class and establishing a "bank account" for students starting in kindergarten to earn points for scholarships, The Dispatch reported.

Both concepts are part of the Issue 3 ballot language.

In a March 20, 2006, e-mail to Board of Regents members, Petrick included notes he wrote explaining Issue 3 and referring to it as "the Casino Gambling initiative and our Learn and Earn financial aid proposal."

The e-mails also stated that the Regents must be "absolutely neutral about whether casino gambling is right for Ohio."

David Zanotti, co-chair of Vote No Casinos campaign, said he doesn't believe it was unethical for the regents staff to provide information to Issue 3 proponents.

"No one wants to see the Board of Regents get a black eye on this, because everyone feels that they were being used by the Issue 3 committee," Zanotti said.

Big Blue said...

Karen & Jean Marc, You both hit the nail on the head. Go broke paying tuition and go to the poor house just to throw in some additional funds for ?

This thing with Issue 3 doesn't strike me as quite the scandal Mr. Vedder would have you believe. Especially when he calls the regents liars and then turns around and does the same thing - or was it a convenient ommission?

What's the point? Even the opposition doesn't see it as a big deal:

"David Zanotti, co-chair of Vote No Casinos campaign, said he doesn't believe it was unethical for the regents staff to provide information to Issue 3 proponents."

Are we to fault our regents for trying to come up with ways to raise money for kids to go to college? At least they're doing SOMETHING!

Mr. Vedder needs to get off his high horse and stop being so judgemental. Meaningful analysis of the advantage and disadvantages would be more interesting.

Finally, I have to say I'm SHOCKED! SHOCKED! to find out athletes are getting preferential treatment!

And Chris Kraus is no angel either.

You should read this:

Butter Cup said...

"The Great About Face"

09-13-06 "Morning Musings", Vedder:

"While I am affiliated with the American Enterprise Institute, I consider Cato to be an important and constructive force in America. Yet I learn yesterday that I am being disinvited as a participant at the Cato conference, not because they are mad at me, but because Charles Miller, Commission chair, would not participate if I were included. If true, I find Charles's behavior more than a little annoying, since I have been a good and loyal member of his commission, being the first to actually indicate a willingness to sign the report. The Texas ego maybe got the best of Charles. But I was more disappointed in Cato for this rather shoddy treatment of a long time friend and ally. They apparently put conference attendance ahead of loyalty, honor, and principle. I will not be attending the Cato conference."

09-25-06 "Charles Miller Is Right on Pell Grants", Vedder:

"Charles Miller's interpretation is exactly the same as mine." "Allow me this opportunity to say, as the Spellings Commission ends its formal mission, that Charles Miller has been an extraordinarily effective chair. Without his leadership, no report with any meaningful recommendations would have been approved. While the final report does not go far enough in my opinion, it is nonetheless a step in the right direction, a step that takes someone with Charles's leadership to pull off."

Lady Justice said...
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TC said...
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superhiker said...

Re the foreign students at the University of Illinois: In all likelihood, they are paying full tuition and subsidizing the in-state students.

ciscoblog said...

North American online casino gamblers constitute 48 percent of the overall Online Casinos Extreme gambling business and research indicates that this might shrink to 36 percent by 2010.

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