Hitting higher education where it hurts – right in the wallet.
Over the last year, colleges across the country have bent over backwards to accommodate student protests but they’re now finding out there are consequences for that.
Many alumni donors are making their disapproval known by withholding donations and that should be setting off alarm bells in the office of every college administrator.
The New York Times reports:
College Students Protest, Alumni’s Fondness Fades and Checks Shrink
Scott MacConnell cherishes the memory of his years at Amherst College, where he discovered his future métier as a theatrical designer. But protests on campus over cultural and racial sensitivities last year soured his feelings.
Now Mr. MacConnell, who graduated in 1960, is expressing his discontent through his wallet. In June, he cut the college out of his will.
“As an alumnus of the college, I feel that I have been lied to, patronized and basically dismissed as an old, white bigot who is insensitive to the needs and feelings of the current college community,” Mr. MacConnell, 77, wrote in a letter to the college’s alumni fund in December, when he first warned that he was reducing his support to the college to a token $5.
A backlash from alumni is an unexpected aftershock of the campus disruptions of the last academic year. Although fund-raisers are still gauging the extent of the effect on philanthropy, some colleges — particularly small, elite liberal arts institutions — have reported a decline in donations, accompanied by a laundry list of complaints.
Alumni from a range of generations say they are baffled by today’s college culture. Among their laments: Students are too wrapped up in racial and identity politics. They are allowed to take too many frivolous courses. They have repudiated the heroes and traditions of the past by judging them by today’s standards rather than in the context of their times. Fraternities are being unfairly maligned, and men are being demonized by sexual assault investigations. And university administrations have been too meek in addressing protesters whose messages have seemed to fly in the face of free speech.
One Yale alum who’s quoted in the story, recalls the campus berating of Nicholas Christakis by angry social justice warriors.
Scott C. Johnston, who graduated from Yale in 1982, said he was on campus last fall when activists tried to shut down a free speech conference, “because apparently they missed irony class that day.” He recalled the Yale student who was videotaped screaming at a professor, Nicholas Christakis, that he had failed “to create a place of comfort and home” for students in his capacity as the head of a residential college.
“I don’t think anything has damaged Yale’s brand quite like that,” said Mr. Johnston, a founder of an internet start-up and a former hedge fund manager. “This is not your daddy’s liberalism.”
“The worst part,” he continued, “is that campus administrators are wilting before the activists like flowers.” Yale College’s alumni fund was flat between this year and last, according to Karen Peart, a university spokeswoman.
John Sexton of Hot Air dutifully collected some of the best comments on the article:
Todd Stuart writes: “Good for the alumni. It feels like these institutions have lost their focus. Their historical mission was to educate in the liberal tradition. That tradition is based on presenting ideas, challenging and sometimes difficult ideas to students. It goes back to the days of Socrates. But recently students have decided they are entitled to pick and choice which ideas they want to hear, and need safe spaces to recover from exposure to the hard ones. This is combined with a shocking lack of understanding of free speech. Why would anyone who believes in the true mission of education support the current institutions financially. To do so is tacit approval of their present condition.”
Frank L writes: “I am much closer in age to this millennial generation than the alumni described in the article but I sympathize with the latter. This absurd mindset of victimization, needing “safe spaces” and feeling vulnerable to “triggers” starts to look like a pathology. They should savor their victories on the campus while they can because the real world will not rearrange itself to quiet their tantrums and outbursts.”
If this story isn’t causing panic in university development offices, then higher education in America is in worse shape than we thought.
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