Current news reports are rife with reports of mobs of students and other agitators shouting down speakers with whom they disagree. Very recently, cowardly top administrators at the University of Missouri quickly resigned when they were merely accused of being insufficiently sensitive to the hurt feelings of certain student groups. Inevitably, protestors with similar goals are sprouting up at colleges around the country, including Yale and other institutions.
College students in various locales are protesting in favor of “free” tuition, forgiveness of student loans, and racial quotas for student admissions and faculty appointments. They lack the critical thinking skills to recognize how elitist and self-absorbed their positions are. They also fail to discern the long-term impact of their demands.
Somebody would have to pay for “free” tuitions and forgiveness of student loans. Those “somebodies” are the taxpayers, including those who forego college to enter the workforce.
Historically and on average, four-year college graduates make roughly twice as much in lifetime income as those who do not hold four-year degrees. (That comparison is changing as society and employers revisit the value of four-year degrees. That, however, is a subject for another day.) Thus, the college student protesters would have taxpayers who go to work after high school instead of attending university subsidize the degrees that allow the grads to boss, and exceed the incomes of, those they would have help pay for their educations.
The result: perpetuation of the earnings gap between grads and those in the working class. These demands from college students constitute blatant elitism and yes, class warfare. These self-identified “liberals” either do not grasp their hypocrisy, or they do not care.
The college protesters’ demands for racial quotas in admissions and faculty appointments is self-defeating. Learned studies over many years consistently show that black students’ academic achievement on average lags corresponding figures for white students. Asian scholastic numbers exceed those of whites overall. People can disagree about the bases for these differences, and in fact, frequently do. One conclusion is not subject to debate, however. Black applicants are already given breaks in consideration for admission in academic institutions all over the country, justified by the rubric of “affirmative action.” Even with this tilting of the college admissions playing field, blacks are still not admitted relative to their gross numbers in the population. Also, and predictably given their favorable consideration at the admissions stage, blacks graduate at lower percentages than their white, and in particular their Asian, fellow students.
If the current student protesters were to get their way, and they might, this gap between academic potential and achievement would be further exacerbated. The inevitable result would be cheapening of the prestige and reputation of their degrees.
Three of the criteria in the annual rankings of American colleges and universities are their students’ board scores, the percent of applicants who are accepted for admission, and the graduation rates of those who matriculate. For every break that lesser-qualified applicants and matriculants receive, these relatively objective evaluations of the excellence of colleges and universities decline. Those protesting on college campuses in favor of such dispensations fail to consider the long view—they are trying to lessen the prestige and marketability of their own degrees.
Phil Van Hoy grew up in Charlotte and attended Charlotte-Mecklenburg public schools. After graduating from law school, he served a short period of active duty as an Army officer. He went on to practice employment law as an attorney in the Duke Power legal department and in private law firms before co-founding Van Hoy, Reutlinger, Adams and Dunn in 1989. The firm specializes in employment law and litigation, representing employers and executives.