As the Kavanaugh confirmation saga nears its end, some news out of Harvard raises an interesting question. The fabled university, either under pressure from activist students or of its own volition, announced that Kavanaugh won’t be returning to teach a course he’s been teaching there since 2005. The only rational conclusion is that the university made this decision because of the accusations of sexual assault made against him by several women.

Harvard is, of course, free to act however it wishes, barring contractual strictures and obligations with its employees, but as Alan Dershowitz points out in the linked article, it is apparently acting solely on uncorroborated and unsubstantiated allegation (worse – allegation that has withered under scrutiny). What Harvard teaches and who teaches it is up to the people running the place, and Harvard runs with the progressive pack. If the Left has decided that Kavanaugh is guilty based on accusation alone, evidence or the lack thereof be damned, Harvard’s not where I’d expect a contrary stance. Lest we forget, Harvard ran its president, Lawrence Summers, out on a rail after he dared suggest that there might be a biological reason that there were more men than women at the top levels of science and engineering. This isn’t quackery or gender-bigotry, it’s based on something called the greater male variability hypothesis, which posits that the bell-curve distribution of various traits is wider and flatter for males of a species than for females. In other words, a higher percentage of men will be at both the very top and very bottom of the intelligence scale, for one.

Being a theory that’s been around since Darwin, it warrants legitimate research, debate, and discussion, especially since it does correlate with the lack-of-women phenomenon Summers commented on. But, rather than take his suggestion as a clarion call for that research, debate, and discussion, those at the fore of social justice and political correctness, who know that this theory either cannot or must not be the case, demanded Summers’ head. And they got it. That was a dozen years ago, and academia hasn’t gotten any more tolerant of dissenting thought since then.

Three years ago, the University of Missouri (aka “Mizzou”) drew national attention over racially-charged protests, and became emblematic of the growing rift between Left and Right. Today, Mizzou is suffering financial hardship due to substantially decreased enrollment, born of the school’s handling of the protests and what many perceive as an increasingly toxic atmosphere of PC intolerance.

Two broader trends are also germane. First, college tuition costs continue to outpace inflation, as they have for the past 40 years, and average student loan debt is nearing $40K at graduation. Second, it’s becoming more commonly known that there are viable career paths, lucrative ones, that don’t involve formal tertiary education, and those paths aren’t just limited to the trades.

The latter trend breaks the “common knowledge” that, to have a shot at a real future, kids have to go to college. The former trend puts countervailing pressure on kids out of high school to explore alternatives to college. The toxicity of college campuses to non-conforming thought, as illustrated by the Kavanaugh, Summers, and Mizzou examples noted here, and countless others, is a growing factor in students’ decision as to whether bother with college at all.

Private universities have long benefited from the double-whammy of “everyone must go to college” and expansive government-backed or government-encouraged financial support. They’ve had a cornered market for decades, and that has enabled all sorts of bloat and all sorts of do-as-we-wish embrace of progressive conformity. But, that market monopoly is cracking just as the toxicity to contrary thought is peaking, and that may lead to a shockingly rapid crash.

We are already witnessing a decline in college enrollment, and an acceleration in the rate of failure of colleges, especially smaller ones. Some have predicted that half of all private colleges and universities might fail in the next dozen years. Academics are certain to ignore the role that closed-mindedness and slavish adherence to the demands of progressive activists play, but that’s a willful blindness that’s helping guide them over the cliff.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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