If you're like me, your college alumni association floods your inbox with email invitations to contribute, often adding invites to football games and lectures by famous alums or popular professors. Except for the moment when an appeal made directly by an administrator turned out to be a multi-page swoon over Obama, most of these imprecations are politically content-free and were designed to play on my nostalgic memories of a college as it once was, not as it is today.
Both my husband and I are very grateful to our university. Without scholarships neither of us would have had an opportunity for higher education. Overall, the university and its law school gave us a lot. Out of gratitude we regularly contributed but I reduced our contribution when the alum association was unable to get from the admissions officers statistics to show whether or not they were discriminating by race in admissions, and later we decided to give directly to high school students in need of further preparation for college and college religious associations. News about what's going on in colleges and universities around the country suggest to me that more alums should pay closer attention to what's occuring there before they open their wallets.
The evidence of widespread racism in admissions is substantial. This was most recently underlined by the open letter "To (All) the Colleges that Rejected Me" by Suzy Lee Weiss that appeared in the Wall Street Journal. Hans van Spakovsky commented in the National Review this week:
Suzy Weiss and many other high-school seniors across the United States are being discriminated against because of their skin color or because they have an epicanthic fold in their eyes. Such racial and ethnic discrimination is morally wrong, and neither "diversity" nor anything else can justify it.
Attempts to disguise discrimination with high-sounding talk about "holistic" reviews just won't wash. And the claim that such discrimination provides different points of view is, itself, racist. Apparently, America's institutions of "higher" learning believe that your skin color determines how you think.
In 1965, that would have gotten you rightly condemned as a bigot. In 2013, it makes you "progressive."
But that's just a small part of the anti-American insanity you are being asked to underwrite with your alumni contributions. Here's a brief summary of the latest campus hires.
Many of them -- including Columbia University, the University of Illinois, Northwestern Law School, NYU, University of North Carolina, John Jay College, and Albany Law School -- are hiring leftist terrorists, what amount to career criminals.
Kathy Boudin, a professor at Columbia University, was named the 2013 Sheinberg Scholar-in-Residence at NYU Law School. In 1984, Boudin, a member of the Weather Underground, a violent, oafish association of upper-class "revolutionaries," pled guilty to second-degree murder in association with the infamous 1981 Brinks armored car robbery in Nyack, New York. Babbling in the language of anti-racism and anti-imperialism, Boudin assisted in ending the life of three people, including Waverly Brown, the first black police officer on the Nyack police force, and left nine children fatherless. She was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison. In 2003, Boudin was released; by 2008 she had landed a coveted teaching position at an Ivy League university.
The most famous Weather Underground bombers-cum-professors are, of course, Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn (also a former Sheinberg Scholar-in-Residence at NYU, which must consider bomb-making skills when making its selection), whose infantile politics and tenure on the FBI's Most Wanted List never dented the confidence of the University of Illinois or Northwestern University.
The goal was to blind, maim, and kill.
According to Jamison, "two credible eyewitnesses-both former left-wing radicals tied to the Weathermen-gave detailed statements to investigators in the 1970s alleging that Dohrn and Howard Machtinger, another member of the group, were personally involved in organizing the deadly attack."
It might not surprise you that, before retiring, Machtinger was a professor at North Carolina Central University and Teaching Fellows Director at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill's School of Education.
Or take former Black Panther party grandee Ericka Huggins, who is now a professor of women's studies at California State University, a professor of sociology at Laney and Berkeley City College, and, according to one official biography, a "human rights activist." In 2011, students at the University of Kentucky could receive extra credit for attending a lecture by Huggins, described as a "political prisoner and human rights activist." It does not seem to bother these universities that in 1970 Huggins was brought to trial on charges of "aiding and abetting" the murder of Alex Rackley, a fellow Panther they wrongly believed to be a police informant. She was acquitted.
But a few salient facts aren't disputed: After days of "interrogation," Rackley was brutally tortured-beaten mercilessly, boiling water poured on his naked body-and left to marinate in his own blood, urine, and feces. As a warning to other "traitors," one torture session was audiotaped. In the scratchy recording recovered by police, Huggins can be heard recalling when she "began to realize how phony [Rackley] was and that he was either an extreme fool or a pig, so we began to ask questions with a little force and the answers came out after a few buckets of hot water." During the session, Rackley was tied to his chair with a gun pointed at him. As he shifted nervously, Huggins snapped, "Sit down motherfucker. Keep still." (A copy of the tape was recently discovered in a Connecticut house and can be listened to here).
Warren Kimbro shot Alex Rackley in the head. He later confessed to the murder and was sentenced to life in prison, but only served four years. By 1975, he was an assistant dean at Eastern Connecticut State University.
After years on the run, having been indicted for her involvement in the Brinks robbery and murder in Nyack, Weather Underground member Susan Rosenberg was caught in 1985 moving "740 pounds of dynamite and weapons, including a submachine gun," according to The New York Times, from her car into a storage locker. After 16 years in prison, her sentence was commuted by President Bill Clinton and, not long after, the self-identified "human rights activist" took a position teaching at John Jay College. After her contract wasn't renewed, she found a perch at Hamilton College, though furious opposition by some faculty members forced the administration to withdraw the offer. But no hard feelings from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice Interdisciplinary Studies Program, which in 2011 invited students "to a celebration of Susan Rosenberg" upon the release of her memoir.
Former Weather Underground member Eleanor Raskin, who fled after being indicted for bomb making in the 1970s, is an associate professor at Albany Law School. In 1981, Raskin and her husband were arrested in connection with an explosives cache uncovered two years earlier by New Jersey police (her husband was placed on probation; the charges against Raskin were dropped). After years in hiding, Mark Rudd, a Weather leader who also fled indictment and went "underground," turned himself in 1977 and was sentenced to two years' probation. He later taught at Central New Mexico Community College.
When they aren't hiring leftist criminals to teach your children, they are hiring and promoting charlatans like Elizabeth Warren, who lied about her Indian heritage and fudged her academic research to get a plum job at Harvard Law School from which she launched her campaign for the U.S. Senate. Or another fake Indian and leftist plagiarist, Ward Churchill.
So... they are not admitting the most qualified students nor are they hiring the best exemplars to teach. The courses they are offering grow more ridiculous (and more expensive) every year and the administrative branches of the universities have grown more and more bloated and extravagantly overcompensated as federal loan programs generously provide a hidden subsidy to the universities, encouraging bad management and a monstrously unsustainable student debt load.
In this week's Wall Street Journal, David Feith details the tale of another person who, like me, was fed up with academia and was shutting his wallet. In this case it was the philanthropist Thomas Klingenstein from whom Bowdoin's college President Barry Mills had been trying to coax a contribution. Turned down, Mills had implied that Klingenstein was a racist and that had occasioned the refusal. Klingenstein instead commissioned an independent study and this is Feith's summary of what it found:
[T]he report demonstrates how Bowdoin has become an intellectual monoculture dedicated above all to identity politics.
The school's ideological pillars would likely be familiar to anyone who has paid attention to American higher education lately. There's the obsession with race, class, gender and sexuality as the essential forces of history and markers of political identity. There's the dedication to "sustainability," or saving the planet from its imminent destruction by the forces of capitalism. And there are the paeans to "global citizenship," or loving all countries except one's own.
The Klingenstein report nicely captures the illiberal or fallacious aspects of this campus doctrine, but the paper's true contribution is in recording some of its absurd manifestations at Bowdoin. For example, the college has "no curricular requirements that center on the American founding or the history of the nation." Even history majors aren't required to take a single course in American history. In the History Department, no course is devoted to American political, military, diplomatic or intellectual history -- the only ones available are organized around some aspect of race, class, gender or sexuality.
One of the few requirements is that Bowdoin students take a yearlong freshman seminar. Some of the 37 seminars offered this year: "Affirmative Action and U.S. Society," "Fictions of Freedom," "Racism," "Queer Gardens" (which "examines the work of gay and lesbian gardeners and traces how marginal identities find expression in specific garden spaces"), "Sexual Life of Colonialism" and "Modern Western Prostitutes."
Regarding Bowdoin professors, the report estimates that "four or five out of approximately 182 full-time faculty members might be described as politically conservative." In the 2012 election cycle, 100% of faculty donations went to President Obama. Not that any of this matters if you have ever asked around the faculty lounge.
"A political imbalance [among faculty] was no more significant than having an imbalance between Red Sox and Yankee fans," sniffed Henry C.W. Laurence, a Bowdoin professor of government, in 2004. He added that the suggestion that liberal professors cannot fairly reflect conservative views in classroom discussions is "intellectually bankrupt, professionally insulting and, fortunately, wildly inaccurate."
Perhaps so. But he'd have a stronger case if, for example, his colleague Marc Hetherington hadn't written the same year in Bowdoin's newspaper that liberal professors outnumber conservatives because conservatives don't "place the same emphasis on the accumulation of knowledge that liberals do."
The full report is here.
As Feith notes, there is no reason to confine this criticism strictly to Bowdoin. It's true of many old-line liberal arts colleges and large universities and colleges around the country.
In the 1600s, before the U.S. was even a sovereign nation, civic-minded people set aside funds to educate the succeeding generations, an act both generous and necessary for the continuing life of the community. Generations which followed chipped in to keep these establishments thriving, and state and federal governments, added to the growing wealth of these institutions. In recent decades they have been corroded from the inside by greedy overpaid officials and feckless and spineless boards of trustees while the student admission policies, the curricula, and the academic hiring process have been corrupted by the left.
Snapping your wallets shut now is the last option left to us to retake these now failing institutions and remake them into what the nation needs -- places where capable students are taught, at reasonable cost, how to provide the goods, services, and civic skills to carry on our great democratic republic.