College: Intolerance and a Waste of Money
Just what is being accomplished on university campuses? Is anyone learning anything or are US universities just indoctrination camps? John Ellis writes for the Wall Street Journal, “What then is the disease? We are now close to the end of a half-century process by which the campuses have been emptied of centrist and right-of-center voices.”
So, you parents who are conservative or libertarian, you should know, (a) your kids will be preached to in virtually every class from a leftist/collectivist point of view, (b) they really won’t learn anything worthwhile that they don’t already know, but (c) as a college graduate they will possibly make 70% more than non-graduates.
In 1969 the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education found that there were overall about twice as many left-of-center as right-of-center faculty. Various studies document the rise of that ratio to 5 to 1 at the century’s end, and to 8 to 1 a decade later, until in 2016 Mitchell Langbert, Dan Klein, and Tony Quain find it in the region of 10 to 1 and still rising.
It gets worse, Ellis writes,
In most humanities and social-science departments—especially those central to a liberal education, such as history, English and political science—the share of left-of-center faculty already approaches 100%.
Since there is no opposition on campus, the professoriate can call anyone who opposes their ideas, “racists,” and “fascists.” Thus, speakers who are not necessarily controversial, like Ben Shapiro, Ann Coulter, Charles Murray, even FEE’s Lawrence Reed, are demonized and booed off the stage or forced to cancel their talks due to threats of violence.
Reed attempted to speak to students at the University of Colorado-Denver about the “Lessons from Ancient Rome,” not a topic that should make students grab torches and pitchforks. However, as Reed writes, “What I saw from a minority of radicalized students in the audience, however, was an appalling microcosm of the smug, arrogant, self-righteous, politically-correct, campus insanity that you see on TV with increasing frequency these days.”
Reed is anything but bombastic. He’s thoughtful and congenial, but was met with heckling and repeated interruptions from students who went on lengthy diatribes. One student held up a sign that read, “Bullshit!” And when all else failed they accused him of racism.
Again, his speech was about ancient Rome for crying out loud.
Townhall reports that 19% of college students support the use of violence against a speaker they view as controversial (someone who says things they don't agree with). Christine Rouselle writes, "The poll also found that nearly 40 percent of students do not believe that the First Amendment covers "hate speech" (which it does), and that slightly over half of the students surveyed believe that it is okay to shout down a speaker who is making controversial comments so that they cannot be heard."
Meanwhile, these students who act like they know it all aren’t getting a thing out of college, writes Bryan Kaplan in his forthcoming book “The Case Against Education: Why the Education System is a Waste of Time and Money.”
You need to ask: How often do academics successfully broaden students’ horizons? Empirically, the answer is bleak: while great teachers can turn students into Shakespeare fans, Civil War buffs, avant-garde artists, and devoted violinists, such transformations are rare. Despite teachers’ best efforts, most youths find high culture boring--and few change their minds in adulthood.
But employers pay graduates more money. Thus, getting a college degree is a good investment. Kaplan says the reason is signaling. Employers aren’t paying for the knowledge gained by the applicant in college but the degree is a signal as to the student’s productivity.
The George Mason economics instructor is not trying to convince his readers that no knowledge is gained by students or that a degree’s benefit is entirely signaling: Just maybe 80%.
Governments spend a trillion dollars subsidizing education, with the mistaken notion that if everyone has a degree, everyone will make more money. This is a Fallacy of Composition, explains Kaplan, what’s true for the part must be true for the whole. Kaplan uses the example of standing at a concert to see better. If you’re the only one standing, yes, you see better. But, when everyone else stands with you, your view is no better.
While today’s college students are standing, too many are ignorant and intolerant. And, will remain that way.