The Corner

Culture

The University of Missouri Pays a High Price for Its Public Meltdown

It turns out that when the public comes face-to-face with university radicals, it’s unimpressed. The University of Missouri is experiencing a very real public backlash. First, applications are down — especially from the key out-of-state applicants who pay much higher tuition:

Fewer freshmen are applying to the University of Missouri for fall enrollment than a year earlier, and race protests that put the Columbia campus under a national spotlight contributed to the drop, according to an internal email from MU’s director of enrollment.

So far, the university has received 18,377 freshman applications, compared to 19,318 applications last year . . . The applicant decline is entirely from out of state, with applications from Missouri even with last year. The fall applications included a drop of 78 black students compared with last fall, but an increase of 24 compared with two years ago.

Transfer applications also dropped, down by 94 compared with last year but up 17 from two years ago.

It’s hardly a shock that fewer black students applied. After all, campus activists unceasingly portrayed it as a racist hellhole. The activists are demanding increased diversity at the same time that they’re driving off black applicants.

But the backlash is hardly limited to applications. It turns out the donors are substantially less enthusiastic about giving to the athletic department:

The Missouri football team delivered a second straight SEC East title in 2014, and happy MU fans opened their checkbooks. They donated more than $685,000 to the athletic department in December 2014.

A year later, the era of good feelings was over.

The football team suffered a tumultuous losing season that included a player boycott in support of the Concerned Student 1950 protest group. The day after Coach Gary Pinkel sided with his players — who threatened to sit out practices and games, including an upcoming matchup against BYU — University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe resigned, per the group’s demands.

After the controversial boycott, donations plummeted. The athletic department recorded only $191,000 in cash donations in December.

That difference of $494,000, a 68.7 percent decline, was partially made up when January receipts increased $264,000 compared to January 2015. But for the three complete months since the players announced their boycott on Nov. 7, cash contributions to the athletic department were down 24.3 percent compared to last year.

It’s not just athletic programs. December giving to the university’s academic programs plunged:

The decline in donations is being felt by the academic side of university fundraising, as well. New pledges and donations overall fell $6 million in December, usually one of the biggest months because donors are planning their tax deductions.

Campus radicals have long benefited from public ignorance. Only a tiny fraction of the population (including donors) pays any attention to campus controversies. Consequently, administrators tend to feel pressure only from the protests — not from the public. But when Missouri’s football team voted to boycott a game in solidarity with campus radicals, the university’s meltdown made national news. 

We’re still a long way from imposing true accountability on the campus leftists, but Missouri’s troubles are an important start. It has lost millions of dollars and hundreds of applications – a just and fitting punishment for administrators who lost their spines.

David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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