Education

The University of Missouri Still Pays the Price for Campus Craziness

Remember the overblown, hysterical protests that roiled the University of Missouri in 2015? Remember how professor Melissa Click called for “muscle” to boot the press from protest sites? Remember how ESPN previewed its Colin Kaepernick lovefest with its fawning coverage of the football team’s threat to boycott a game? Well, it turns out that lots of people still do, and that’s not good for the university. Here’s the Chronicle of Higher Education:

This fall the University of Missouri at Columbia will welcome its smallest freshman class in nearly two decades. As of this month, just 4,009 first-time freshmen had made enrollment deposits, a decline of 35 percent from the 2015 class of 6,191 students.

The precipitous drop is striking for a public flagship with a prominent national brand, one that has seen enrollment grow almost every year since the turn of the century.

In 2015 the student population reached a record high of 35,448. Come August, Mizzou plans to enroll about 30,700 students over all. Seven of its residence halls will be closed temporarily.

University officials claim that a “negative public perception” of the school is the “main reason for the drop” (Missouri’s population is also stagnant.) I’m not surprised. The Southeastern Conference is not the Ivy League, and the student/parent constituency is very different. The school found itself trapped between radical minority students who described it as hell on earth (why would a black student want to come to Mizzou?) and a more moderate population that thought the entire affair was absurdly overblown. 

The Chronicle doesn’t note this, but the football gods were displeased as well. In 2013 and 2014 the team was a powerhouse. It had two consecutive 7-1 records in the SEC, it won the Cotton and Citrus bowls, and it’s combined record was 23-5. In 2015 and 2016 the team went 1-7 and 2-6 in the conference and finished with a combined record of 12-20. But Mizzou football was even worse than the record indicated. At times the offense was the single most painful sight on television until the absurd Twin Peaks reboot. 

The lesson, as always, never mess with SEC football. The consequences are too awful to contemplate. 

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and an attorney.