Bonfire of the AcademyPosted: November 11, 2015
As liberal adults abdicate, the kids take charge on campus.
By bonfire of the academy we mean a conflict of values about the idea of a university that now threatens to undermine or destroy universities as a place of learning. Exhibit A is the ruin called the University of Missouri.
In the 1960s—at Cornell, Columbia, Berkeley and elsewhere—the self-described Student Left occupied buildings with what they often called “non-negotiable” demands. In the decades since, the academy—its leaders and faculties—by and large has accommodated many of those demands regarding appropriate academic subjects, admissions policies and what has become the aggressive and non-tolerant politics of identity and grievance.
This political trajectory arrived at its logical end this week at Missouri with the abrupt resignation of the school’s president, quickly followed by its number two official. The kids deposed them, as their liberal elders applauded either out of solidarity or cowardice.
The cause of President Tim Wolfe’s resignation is said to be his failure to address several racially charged incidents on campus and the threat by its Division One football team to boycott this weekend’s game unless he stepped down.
The university’s campus, in Columbia, is not far from Ferguson, Mo. Among the charges against President Wolfe was that his response to the shooting of Michael Brown was inadequate, which is to say, he did not sufficiently take the side of the protesters or rioters. Since Ferguson, the left-wing Black Lives Matter group has come to prominence and intimidated even presidential candidates. This has been accompanied by successive claims of racial grievance against public and private institutions.
In the United States, by now the instinct of the overwhelming majority of people is to address such complaints in good faith, investigate them and remediate where necessary. Only the tiniest minority would wish to see racial grievances bleed indefinitely. Yet the kids assert that America is irredeemably racist.Behind the headlines was also a festering dispute between the school administration and graduate students over cutbacks to their health-care coverage. Student Jonathan Butler listed among the reasons for his hunger strike that “graduate students [were] being robbed of their health insurance.”
Less noted in the news coverage is that an August posting on the website of the university’s division of graduate studies explains in detail that the health-insurance cutbacks are the explicit result of the Affordable Care Act. ObamaCare’s regulations forbid employers, such as universities, from paying for their grad students’ health insurance. Another case of progressives eating their own….(read more)