By Richard Vedder
Loye Young is today's hero. He has been fired by Texas A and M for lowering the self esteem of six cheaters in his class. Meanwhile, of course, the "F" grades he gave the students have been put on hold. At least that is what INSIDE HIGHER ED tells us this morning.
This is shameful and contemptible. Mr. Young warned students on his syllabus that he would do precisely what he actually did --humiliate and fail students who cheat and plagiarize. Students allegedly cheated, so Mr. Young followed his own policy, announcing his actions on his web site. A and M pointed out, no doubt correctly, that Young violated the Buckley Amendment designed to protect the privacy of students.
The net result: enforcers of academic dishonesty are punished, the perpetrators of the dishonesty are likely to be only lightly punished if at all, and the integrity of the academy has taken another hit. My advice to Governor Rick Perry -- threaten to punish A and M big time financially if this grave injustice is not corrected. If more people had the the balls and principles of Loye Young, the moral decay brought about by academic dishonesty would be dramatically reduced, the academy would be more faithfully fulfilling its mission, and the public would be more supportive of the universities that have grown rich, arrogant, and morally suspect.
The reason the market sector is efficient and works while the not-for-profit sector is relatively inefficient and does not work is explained by incentives. In private business, good is rewarded and failure is punished. In higher ed, the incentives are all perverse --don't anger anyone, no matter how destructive their behavior, and don't reward principled enforcement of standards (rather, punish it if it is too agressively followed). Loye Young went a tad far in publishing the names of cheaters, perhaps, given the law, but he was fundamentally right --humiliation is an effective form of punishment. I suppose the students now are going to sue Mr. Young for damaging their self-esteem. Maybe it is time to move to Australia -or Mars.
Shame, shame, shame for Texas A and M. All those Aggie jokes have validity, and long live Loye Young and the University of Texas, a real university.