The dangers to our university are non-faculty bureaucracy and student activism. These are clear and present dangers to the original idea of a University. Perhaps the first purpose of a university came from Socrates who said, “Never cease from the practice and teaching of philosophy”. But he also disclaimed any involvement in politics and the struggle for power.
Another problem is that our youth approaching the University lack discipline. No one doubts the truism that after two years of military service the person was better for it. High schools which have a universal job program for all for an hour in the morning produce more disciplined students.
The non-faculty bureaucracy and student activism are pushing for dangerous developments in the university:
- The ascension of narrow ideological fields of study, usually at the expense of study of the great events and ideas of world history.
- The erosion of the due process of the rights of faculty and students.
- Denying the special place America represents with its freedom and justice and the 1st choice of most immigrants.
- Dangerous efforts to regulate permissible limits of classroom discussion.
- Unwelcome ideas are condemned as is “hate speech” by some.
Every needy student activist asserts demands that require expansion of the bureaucracy. The new bureaucracy encourages and facilitates the student agitation.
Example: The students demand that the name “Calhoun” be changed for one of Yale’s residential buildings because Mr. Calhoun owned slaves at one time.
Result: Under President Salovey a board convinced a study group and agreed to change the name.
Pres. Salovey announced the creation of a “Name Calling Committee” and a budget of $3 million dollars was included so that a proper consensus could be reached with student approval for their demands.
Opinion: This spineless “give in” to student demands, produced new student life coordinates, more officers, more diversity deans, more sexual climate professionals, more non-faculty bureaucracy.
A weak leadership will create still another diversity and an inclusion study group to avoid elitism, to force diversity, to improve access to academic programs and alumni networks to outsiders not connected to Yale, to end legacy admission, to increase equal opportunity, and to increase economic and social mobility.
Note: Most of the above are pet projects of the new head of Yale’s Board, C atherine Hill, who was “let go” from Vassar (President from 2006. Debt was $172 million. By 2015 the debt rose to $254 million).
Sometimes the new bureaucrats promote activist causes directly. At a well-known midwestern college the vice president and dean of student life (formerly the college’s special assistant to the president for diversity, equity, and inclusion) was found to have been directly involved in a student effort to libel and injure a local business on fabricated charges of racism!
Thus, this new non-faculty bureaucracy and student activism seek to change education as we knew it. How did we get there? Yale’s mission statement before 2016 was; “Yale has as tripartite mission: to create, preserve, and disseminate knowledge”. This statement is just about right. But in 2016 President Salovey announced a new longer statement. Here are two representative sentences:
“Yale is committed to IMPROVING the world…. Yale educates aspiring leaders worldwide who serve all sectors of society…”
The focus on knowledge is gone, replaced by leadership, practice and world-improvement. The shift is from inquiry and deliberation to institution of assertiveness and action.
Universities do not exist to implement the conclusion of our social, cultural, moral or economic debates. Maintaining that distinction between inquiry and action has always been crucial to academic freedom. It is the totalitarian who rejects this distinction, who insists that society may regulate opinion as it regulates action. The Gestapo or Inquisition are good examples.
Now the ambitions of our university staff are greater: the achievement of diversity, inclusion and equity, avoid elitism, restore regulation of the for-profit sector, regulate economic and social mobility, get rid of legacy admissions.
The dreaded Title IX has metastasized into a vast bureaucracy that oversees orientations, investigations and mandatory bystander training, amounting to a re-education which is a new part of the University’s business. The university is changing from the teaching of philosophy and inquiry to the service of social change.
This cancer begins with the new “professional admissions” departments. These admissions professionals are not interested in traditional academic criteria but flashier virtues such as “the need for change, activism, leadership, or overcoming adversity”. In the old days under President Kingman Brewster it was simpler. “Welcome to the privilege of Yale.” vs. Now.
Inquiry vs. activism Speech vs. conduct
Process of understanding the world vs. impose our will on it.
Authority with the faculty vs. non-faculty bureaucracies
How do we change it back to where it was?
- The faculty has to wake up.
- Trustees should demand detailed outlines of jobs they offer.
- Alumni should become wiser in their philanthropy and limit gifts to a year, subject to direction and results.
- Enforce restrictions on charitable gifts.
- Clean up admission process (intellectual virtues over activism)
- Clean out the mass of activism and bureaucracy.
Those who seek to politicize the University to collapse the distinction between educational inquiry and action claim that the old university is a “shield for the privileged” and “justice is paramount”. These activists have a morose self-loathing of the past and seek to recast our constitution and academic principals into their enlightened power. It will FAIL.
Our newest arrivals have already voted with their feet. Immigrants by the hundred thousand at the border are eager to learn and embrace our national traditions. Our university’s purpose was and is to teach students in methods and habits of free inquiry – in deliberation assessment of evidence and the expansion of knowledge. Universities did NOT exist to implement the conclusion of our social, cultural, moral, or economic debates. -1-
John Allen Franciscus
1. This whole article quotes much and leans heavily on the Remarks of Judge Jose A. Cabranes on the occasion of the 2019 Philip Menall Award by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni. Washington D.C.
Also we refer to – Selection of Articles and Quotes 8 Oct 2019 from Catharine Hill in the Media: Boilerplate Mag. 18 Jan 200. New York Time 2016. Poughkeepsie Journal. 20 July 16.
Yale Alumni Association – 2011 assembly Peter Salovey Leadership Advancing Yale’s Mission. Belonging at Yale, Supporting Diversity, Equity, and inclusion on Campus.