The Corner

Stop Paying for College

I have a proposal: Let’s turn the whole damn campus into a “space of healing.”

Such “spaces,” we learn in Rich’s excellent column on the Mizzou mau-mauing (to be read in conjunction with similarly insightful columns by Kevin and our friend Roger Kimball on last week’s Yale mau-mauing), are what university administrators failed to “create” so the coddled children could grieve over … well … everything.

As always, there are pretexts aplenty – purported racial insults (you’ll have to forgive me – or not, who cares? – if I won’t believe these incidents happened as described until that is convincingly proved) and, of course, the killing of a teenager who was attacking a police officer right after knocking off a convenience store. Speaking of Michael Brown, Columbia Law school students who claimed to be too “traumatized” by the Ferguson grand jury’s decision not to indict the police officer he attacked were permitted to postpone their exams – evidently, a classroom with a test placed on the desks is no longer a “safe space” on the American campus.

Can we please stop pretending that this is anything other than what it is? As an institution taken over by the hard Left, “higher education” simply wants to confiscate more of our money and obliterate any remaining vestiges of meritocracy. The agitators know that if they agitate enough, no matter how trifling the pretext, they will get concessions.

So let’s stop paying for it.

Let them have the “safe space.” Let them figure out how to keep the “spaces of healing” without the support of the society they want to destroy – once they’ve squeezed the last thin dime out of it.

The university is a terrible deal for the country and for too many students. It is no longer a center of learning and the promotion of reason. It is a cauldron of hard Left indoctrination and victim narratives where reason no longer has a home. I believe in free expression, so I don’t favor the coercive shutdown of such places (in the way that they would favor shutting down, say, National Review). But I don’t believe we should pay for them or pretend that they are something they are not.

What I am saying is not controversial for anyone who believes deeply in education. As the invaluable Glenn Harlan Reynolds has been pointing out for years (see, e.g., The New School and The Education Apocalypse), there are viable, economical alternatives to the nigh-obsolete four-year campus model of higher education. Whatever worthwhile remains at today’s colleges, these alternatives – especially online education – can provide it better and much cheaper.

Shifting from the campus to the Internet can eliminate the universities’ administrative bloat – the billions of public dollars progressive politicians sluice through the system to underwrite hard Left thought police in sinecures ostensibly devoted to “diversity,” speech regulation, campus “community responders,” etc. It can give parents and students more choice and more excellence since online education would weed out lots of the mediocrity – and worse – that dominate the campus. And the pressure of competition would dramatically improve whichever of today’s schools survived the transition.

As Professor Reynolds explained yesterday at his Instapundit blog on PJ Media, the transition is already happening. Mizzou’s football squad apparently thinks threatening to boycott a game is better publicity than losing the game (as they’ve been doing regularly this year). But the real story is that more students today take at least one course online than attend a college with a varsity football team. There are more undergrads taking at least one online class than the combined number of graduate students in Masters and PhD. programs.

It is past time to accelerate the transition. The best way is to stop paying for our own destruction.

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