It’s August. Nationwide, university students from all levels of society are set to return to or begin their studies at an American university.
Nonetheless, many students are entering environments that operate as independent police states within the authority of a state legislature or a multi-billion-dollar endowment fund. And, of course, this characterization is to refer to college administrations for private and public campuses.
In recent years, the higher education workforce has seen a bloat in administrative staff across the country. One projection argues that over a multi-decade period from 1978 to 2008, the increase of administrators rose substantially to match the population of full-time faculty members. Add the affairs of the present day, and the administrative bloat reaches even higher numbers as dozens of campuses across the United States have taken up the calling to establish deanships in diversity, multicultural affairs and inclusion.
I believe that the intentions behind this trend are entirely well-founded and should be commended; however, the increased campus bureaucracy is now directly trampling on the freedoms of students and professors.
For this, these university administrations affect the cost of tuition, the curriculum of the campus and even the culture. Yes, liberal and conservative professors aren’t the most understanding people when it comes to dissenting opinions in their classes; however, the case of the administrative bloat threatens the existence of academic inquiry, debate and diversity of views also.
Take the case of Yale University. We The Internet TV ran an excellent video expose on how freedom of speech and belief on campus are threatened by an administrative hierarchy that perpetuates one societal narrative over the other. The result, according to the expose, resulted in the removal of professors who challenged the student body with subject material that broke through the societal narrative of the campus. In turn, more administrative staff were hired to address the apparent “triggering” of the campus community.
However, what should’ve been done is to remind these students why they are in college: to learn and be exposed to a variety of opinions and beliefs — especially those related to politics, religion and economic justice. The situation could have played out differently.
Consider other cases of where administrations — in efforts to benefit the majority of the campus culture — repressed and exploited students and professors for speaking their minds. One particular instance that comes to mind is when I covered the weeklong “deconstructing whiteness” seminar at Northwestern University for The College Fix in 2016.
Despite the university contending that the workshop was optional, the case for it derived from a diversity department leader wishing to exercise the training in social justice education she received during her degree program. Attendees to the event, I am sure, had fascinating debates; yet, the program persisted at the expense of tuition dollars.
In the public sphere, universities have created “bias response teams.” In fact, these organizations are structured in a manner that seems to counteract to the concept of diversity of opinions. Yes, no one should ever experience discrimination or violence; however, debating topics like feminism, LGBTQ rights, or institutionalized racism and disagreeing with them is not a crime.
Administrations use these bias response teams as a thought police. And, when these teams operate at a public institution, it’s your tax dollars and tuition dollars being used to perpetuate a narrative that isn’t receptive to challenges.
For example, University of Oregon has made headlines multiple times for this type of behavior from unaccountable administrators. Now, not too far from Oregon’s campus is Oregon State University mandating social justice education for first-year students, student staff and residents.
Here, a team of administrators determined that it was the best option for students to undergo this type of education as a requirement for a degree — even when a student’s degree program may not even pertain to the subject matter of this education. Rather than giving the students the choice to chart out their educations, it was done for them. While, in the background, the administration grew and brought on a new position whose primary role is to lead the campus bias response team.
Plus, we can’t forget the amount of power these administrators have over students and professors. Almost every deanship in the country carries a level of discretion in hiring and firing staff; expelling and suspending students; and dictating campus policy. College presidents and chancelleries stand by letting their giant machine work without any oversight.
I’ll repeat it. Administrations operate like police states. We can’t control what a private institution will do without significant pushback; however, we can fight hypocrisy on public campuses. The only challenge, in this regard, is that the campus — in a limited capacity — has its own laws and arbiters of those laws.
When the law gives a select few who share one ideology the power to make or break a student’s college career or a revered professor’s reputation, you have actual inequity. And from that, the real minorities of the American college campus are intellectual honesty, academic freedom and the First Amendment.
Many students and professors are afraid. They think things like this:
“Will I be expelled for something I asked in class?”
“Will my students be willing to learn this concept without feeling offended?”
“Are my classmates going to attack me for voting for a man?”
“Are my colleagues going to support my differing opinions on climate change?”
“Will the administration punish me for thinking like this?”
The key takeaway from this is to stand up to the activists running your campus and spending your money on programs and staff that seem irrelevant and threaten your rights as a human — and this goes for everyone (regardless of ideology, gender, sexual orientation, religious belief or economic status).