That is the question I talked about on a special report by Mike Slater on The First TV: “That’s a troubling question that 2, 3, 5 years ago, nobody would’ve asked, you go for the degree, you go for the name on your resume. But it’s so toxic on these campuses that I don’t know if I would”
Earlier this week I taped a segment for a special report by Mike Slater on The First TV, Campus Chaos: America’s Radicalized Universities.
Among other things, Mike asked the question: Should parents send their kids to prestigious universities anymore?
Here’s the full 45 minute show, marked to start with my segment at 8:45.
Warning, I was having really bad hair and lighting day.
Transcript (auto-generated, may contain transcription errors)
Slater: William Jacobson is a fellow professor at the Ivy League Cornell University. He’s the founder of Legal Insurrection, the Equal Protection Project, and also CriticalRace.org. Three wonderful websites. Professor, how are you, sir?
WAJ: Great. How are you,
Slater: Roger, here? If you had a 17-year-old son or daughter, would you send your kids to an Ivy League school today?
WAJ: Well, I have to tell you, I’d think very long and hard about it. I think I’d want to understand what their goals are, what our goals are for that child, and whether that’s a good fit.
And that’s a troubling question that 2, 3, 5 years ago, nobody would’ve asked, you go for the degree, you go for the name on your resume. But it’s so toxic on these campuses that I don’t know if I would, unless my son or daughter were super left wing and super woke in which case these might be good places. But if it’s just your average kid who wants to get ahead in life, I think that’s a real question.
Slater: It’s really amazing. because who would’ve ever thought that that would ever be true <laugh> That would ever be, that we would ever question, like if you got a free ticket to Harvard or whatever, how would you not take that? But I think we’re getting to the point where more and more people won’t, it may just not be worth the, I think there’s a lot of employers, we spoke earlier about some employers who are like, nah, the drama’s just not worth it. You never know what you’re gonna get with an Ivy League grad these days.
WAJ: It’s true. The brand was so strong. I mean, I went to Harvard Law School and I would’ve taken it, this is 40 years ago, over any other school just because of the brand. I don’t think we’re going to get that anymore.
I think Harvard’s brand is severely tarnished, whether it’s permanently tarnished remains to be seen. A lot of people are using the Bud Light analogy that it was a super strong brand who thought they were above everybody else and thought they couldn’t be touched and proved wrong. I don’t know if Harvard will end up being the Bud Light of the Ivy League, but its brand is definitely tarnished. And I think you’re right. A lot of employers, and I’ve heard this from a lot of people anecdotally in the law field, they don’t want to hire from Harvard and Yale and Stanford because they’re getting a certain attitude from the students that that’s not healthy.
Slater: Hmm. What do you say to the people listening now and they’re like, professor, Slater, like, I don’t, I don’t care. I’m not in college. My kids are outta college. It doesn’t matter to me. This is just a dumb Harvard problem. It all stays in the bubble. What do you say to that?
WAJ: Well, it does matter because these are the kids who go on to run the high tech businesses. They’re the ones who are the censors at Twitter and elsewhere. They’re the ones who go into government. They’re the ones who do a lot of things in life, including journalism, that impact us all. So you can’t take the attitude that what happens on campus stays on campus, because we know that’s not true. We’ve seen what’s happened with the attacks on conservatives via high tech and big tech, and that a lot of that comes from these students who are only four or five, six years out of Oberlin College. And they’re in a sense, running our lives. So we do need to care about it, whether you’ve got a kid going into college or not.
Slater: Yeah. And they’re going to medicine and all these professions that control everything about us, it’s horrible. Because we always thought I was mistaken. I thought they would grow out of it. Or, you know, they go into the real world and they get smacked in the face of the real world. But that just never happened. They never stopped. And now there’s these surveys out, there’s a recent one from Harvard. It was, 18 to 24 year olds and there was 79% of them think that white people are oppressors. And you’re like, wow, that’s a problem when you have that many people and will they grow out of that?
WAJ: I don’t know. But you know, we’ve been warning about this for many years long before people paid attention to it. And it starts now in kindergarten. The racialization of education really from kindergarten on up is really so destructive of our society. It’s setting people against each other. It’s reinstituting racism in our society, but with different targets. And that’s not healthy. this is not going to end well if we stay on this trajectory. But these students have never known anything else.
We all think this is just a higher ed problem. It’s not. It’s in K through 12. Now look at the stuff your kids are studying in school. Look at what they’re being taught. They’re being taught a different type of racism, and it’s the norm for them. They don’t know any differently after 14 or 15 years of schooling. So this is a problem. I don’t think it’s going away. We’ve really got ti fight it at every level of education.
Slater: Yeah. And education’s not the priority anymore. I think we have a tweet from Elon Musk here where he talked about how there’s been a demise in here…. So have you noticed that in your years in the Ivy League?
WAJ: I think it’s a little hard to generalize. I think if you asked most professors, they would say they have seen a generalized decline. Of course in my own teaching, I have very small classes, so you can’t really judge that. But I do hear that from a lot of professors that they just don’t feel the quality of student, and it’s not just at Cornell, it’s elsewhere, is what it was a few years ago. The test scores may be the same, but there seems to be something missing. Perhaps it’s a critical thinking. It’s a questioning. It’s challenging of authority, the students seem to just go along with the prevailing ideology right now. Again, that’s a generalization, but it’s a generalization that I’ve heard many times from many professors at many different schools.
Slater: What’s the problem with grade inflation? Saw a report the other day is like 80% of Yale classes are A’s or A minuses. Who cares? Why does that matter? What does that do to the student that they then take with them for the rest of their life?
WAJ: Well, it matters if you believe that those sort of assessments should have meaning, for example, in the hiring process. Are they a measure of anything? And I think the answer is nowadays, given the statistics you cited, and I’ve seen that elsewhere, I’m not sure grades are really a measure of anything anymore. And that’s a problem because how do outsiders, how do employers, how do others, judge whether someone has done well in school or not?
And I think the answer from the social justice folks on campuses is you shouldn’t be judging people. The mere fact that they’re graduating from our school should be enough for you and you should use factors other than merit, other than talent, to hire people. So that’s a factor. This is just an endless and relentless tearing down of meritocracy, an endless tearing down of competition as if competition is a bad thing. It’s not a bad thing, it’s something that allows the people who are competent and who have personal qualities and knowledge to accel. One student doing well in a course is not demeaning another student in the course. It’s just a way of measuring things.
But we can’t measure things anymore because somebody’s going to do better than somebody else, and that’s going to make them feel bad. And the most important thing in higher education now is that nobody feel bad.
Slater: Yeah. Amazing. Sothat’s sort of speaking in the graduation side. What about the getting in side? What does it take to get into an Ivy League school today?
WAJ: Well, I don’t sit on any admissions committees. I’ve never been in that process, but I think we’re all generally familiar that it’s a lot more than grades and SATs now. It’s ethnicity, it’s race, it’s other things. That’s what the whole Harvard case that went to the Supreme Court exposed, that depending on your race and ethnicity you may be getting favored. And it’s not the way we used to think about it where white candidates were favored, they’re actually disfavored now. The most disfavored are Asian candidates, candidates of Asian background, statistically that’s true. The Harvard case proved that beyond any doubt. So it’s a whole lot more now. It’s really race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, all sorts of other things that have nothing to do with academics and your likelihood of succeeding in an academic environment.
Slater: I understand. Real quick, about 30 seconds, we shared a quote from James Hill. He is a professor of philosophy, I believe, at DePaul University. He went as far to say that our higher education institutions are a national security threat. And there was that article in the Wall Street Journal about how all the problems in America can be traced back to the root of them that were born out of our academia. Those are pretty strong words. How do you characterize the state of higher education today?
WAJ: I’ve said this for a while. I’ve been giving speeches about this for three plus years, that the racialization of education is a threat to our nation. It is a threat to the cohesiveness of the nation. It’s a threat to the success of the nation. It’s pitting students against each other, pitting students against professors, pitting students against their parents, and pitting them against their country. This is a national security threat. What is happening in higher education And also K through 12.
Slater: Professor William Jacobson, start at the website Legal Insurrection, make it a part of your daily routine. Professor, wonderful to talk to you as always, sir.
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