My wife was recently wondering if she should make a donation to her alma mater. As a conservative, she does not want to give financial support to liberal causes. She had heard that her old college had become quite liberal.
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Then, we got a hold of a copy of a letter written to his colleagues by a professor who serves as the president of the faculty senate at the college. The letter is a lamentation, grieving over the selection of House Speaker Paul Ryan to give the commencement address. Here are some of the "highlights" of the alleged grievances in that letter:
1. The professor objects to Ryan because he is a Republican and Republicans in his state are responsible for "cutting hundreds of billions of dollars from the university system's most recent budget."
Since the entire annual budget of this state's government is less than $50 billion, the protesting professor engaged in hyperbolic exaggeration by claiming "hundreds of billions" of cuts. (Thank goodness this professor isn't teaching in the mathematics department!) I did a little research and found that 14.2 percent of Wisconsin's budget is devoted to higher education, compared to 12.3 percent six years ago. Perhaps the stingy/evil GOP lopped some millions off of hoped-for increases, but there have been no draconian cuts.
2. "The shifting of college costs to students through reduced public funding... over the past several decades has, as we are all painfully aware, been an important part of the serious problem of student debt."
The claim that public funding on higher education has been going down in recent decades is risible. Even in constant dollars, such spending has risen sharply. (In the professor's defense, he doesn't teach history or economics either.) The real problem for students has been the soaring cost of higher education, attributable to many factors, not the least of which has been too many overpaid professors and administrators. The professor is masking his own dismay that his cushy, subsidized, privileged position is being smacked in the face by the economic reality that a college education has become overpriced. His gravy train is on increasingly thin ice, and he is panicking.
3. Ryan is a member of the party that "denies the science of climate change."
No, Republicans are not opposed to climate science, but rather to the politicization of science as manifested by the other party threatening to prosecute anyone who does not accept their version of truth. The left believes so fervently in government infallibility that they want the state to have a monopoly on truth and the politically decreed truth to be a compulsory orthodoxy. The real repudiation of science is the fascist political thuggery that aims to suppress debate, squash inquiry, and outlaw independent thinking.
4. The professor objects that the "commencement speaker isn't engaging us in dialogue, he is speaking down to a captive audience..."
No commencement address is a dialogue. They are monologues by their very nature. Ah, but to have to sit captive and listen to someone who is a Republican, that can't be fair, can it? Well, since this professor and many of his colleagues on the left have those students as captive audiences in their courses for a minimum of a semester at a time, somehow I can't worry too much about the unfairness of providing the opportunity to listen to a speaker coming from a different point of view for 20 minutes or so. (Besides, they don't have to listen. They can always put cotton in their ears and read "The Communist Manifesto" during the address.) Apparently, this professor views such traumatic experiences as listening to a Republican as a micro-aggression, for he suggests, "We might also consider reaching out to students who may be troubled by what Mr. Ryan's honored role in their graduation implies." Yes, by all means, supply emergency counseling for them (as long as it's funded by the taxpayer, of course).
This poor professor must wonder what darkness is descending on America that students graduating from his college are subjected to having a Republican speaker at this year's commencement ceremony. Hey, relax, fella. I'm sure there's a Democratic commencement speaker in your college's future. Meanwhile, I think most of us wonder what has gone wrong with America that a professor will "have a cow," to borrow the Simpsonian phrase, over such an inconsequential occurrence. All that this professor accomplished with his letter of protest was to provide another vivid example of why the American taxpayer should get some relief from subsidizing such intellectual silliness. And, for the record, my wife will not be making a donation to her alma mater.
This article has been updated.
Mark Hendrickson is Fellow for Economic and Social Policy with the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College.
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