Scenes from the College Meltdown

Partly because COVID led many graduating high school students to defer applying to college last year, this year’s college application numbers set a record. This may turn out to be a last hurrah for the old college model, however, as colleges are on the brink of a demographic cliff. The decline in the U.S. birth rate that accelerated during the housing finance crash of 2008 is expected to diminish the pool of college-bound students starting in the next few years. And if Democrats succeed in making community colleges and state colleges cheaper or free, how will private tuition-dependent colleges fare? Likely not well.

But there are other more immediate storm clouds. My favorite story of the week concerns the certifiably insane Evergreen State College in Washington, which has had a year-long search underway to replace its current president, George Bridges, who is very likely the worst college president in America. As with most such organizational searches,  Evergreen had narrowed the selection down to three finalists.

Last Friday, all three finalists withdrew from the search. Say what?

Everyone is being tight-lipped about what is behind this startling outcome, with some speculation that Evergreen State’s trustees disliked the three finalists, while there is other speculation that the finalists were shaken by their late interactions with the faculty and the trustees, and realized they were boarding a sinking ship crossed with an insane asylum. Evergreen State’s enrollment has fallen by one-third since the disgraceful episode a few years ago that led to the ouster of premier faculty members Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying, who expressed dissent from the campus’s “anti-racism” agenda.

We’ll try to keep an eye on this story, but there is one comment in the Chronicle story linked above that sums it all up:

I graduated from TESC in 1989 and returned “for fun” in 2015. What a difference 30-years makes! The place is a disaster!!!! There is NO learning taking place. NO teaching taking place. There is only elitism and justification for what we now call cancel culture. I’ve got stories that would shock even the most liberal of alumni. Truly the inmates are being allowed to run the asylum, and the teachers are afraid of them – afraid of what might be said in their evaluations. . . the inmates are running the place into the ground.

Meanwhile, there is some evidence that what might finally cause colleges to adopt some common sense is . . . liability insurance rates. According to several reports, liability insurance rates for colleges are soaring right now.

Gee—I wonder why? Could it be their no-due-process kangaroo courts for Title IX? By one count, there are currently over 700 lawsuits against colleges for violating students’ due process rights in Title IX matters, and there have been numerous costly settlements that several colleges have had to make for their heedless trampling of basic civil rights.

But Title IX is only one part of the increasing liability exposure of colleges today. Here’s another notable story from March:

University of Iowa officials who wrongly de-recognized a Christian student group for objecting to same-sex relationships can be held personally liable for their unconstitutional actions, a federal appeals court has said.

The decision came in a second lawsuit relating to the university’s treatment of campus religious groups. A three-judge panel with the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals on March 22 overturned part of a lower court’s decision which held that dean of students Lyn Redington, assistant dean Thomas Baker, and Iowa Memorial Union executive director had qualified immunity. Instead, the panel said they could be ordered to pay damages for treating the Christian group Business Leaders in Christ more strictly than other student groups, the Associated Press reports.

And then of course there was the Oberlin lawsuit, reported before here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Let a thousand Oberlin-style lawsuits bloom! (Like this one at the University of Virginia.) Colleges won’t rid themselves of the many repulsive ideologues who have ruined them until the pain gets too great for their boards of trustees to tolerate.

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