“Mizzou Effect” Hits Evergreen College; Whites Will No Longer Be Banished From Campus
WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 20, 2018): Evergreen State College in Washington has finally been forced to discontinue a controversial program under which white students and faculty were asked to leave the campus for a “Day of Absence.”
The remedy was not the law suit which forced the college to pay $500,000 as a settlement to a professor whose vocal objections led to a near riot and his departure, nor was it that a policy based upon race such almost certainly a violation of the First Amendment as well as of Washington's anti-discrimination law, but rather that it hit the college hard in the pocketbook, says public interest law professor John Banzhaf.
As a result of the wide-spread negative and derogatory publicity it received, the college experienced a 20% decline in admissions, resulting in a $2.3 million shortfall.
Such sharp declines in admissions and tuition revenue can be devastating for a college since, unlike most businesses which can lay off workers if there is a dip in demand, colleges have huge fixed expenses which they generally cannot make up by trying to lay off tenured faculty members when demand for their product tanks.
While this sharp decline in revenue also harms members of Evergreen's faculty, Banzhaf notes that many on that faculty not only joined students in seeking to have the professor fired simply for voicing an unpopular opinion, but also urged the college not to punish the students for clear violations of what they termed was "the misguided language of the current Student Conduct Code."
So perhaps turnaround is fair play, or there is karma even on college campuses, quips Banzhaf.
This is only the latest example of the spread of the so-called "Mizzou Effect" where extreme violations of academic norms, and particularly violations of freedom of speech, hold the institutional up in a very unfavorably light which in turn leads to fewer students wanting to be educated in that climate.
Thus, as a result of similar instances of stifling free speech over racial issues at the University of Missouri and the resulting public outcry. the first year class at the University declined by a shocking 23% in the first year, followed by a 16% decline subsequently.
As a result, Mizzou was forced to cut some 400 jobs, raise student tuition, and shut down seven dormitories - thereby sending a very strong warning to other colleges.
Ironically, the biggest decline at Mizzou was among first year applicants who are black [42%] compared with the overall decline of 23%.
So the very group which was supposed to benefit from the violations of academic freedom, physical violence, and other outbursts on campus appears to be hurt and dissuaded from attending the most.
Moreover, a tuition increase can be expected to adversely impact black students more than others because more of them come from families with lower incomes.
Some recent reports suggest that concern about losing donations from alumni, particularly from those who are very wealthy - and therefore more likely to be conservative, and to be more upset by what they see as political correctness taking over their campuses and stifling free speech - may also be a force pushing universities not to chill free speech by giving in to small groups upset by the messages being send which offend them, and/or which they claim are racist, sexist, or simply "hate speech."
For example, the publication Inside Philanthropy reports that "donors chafe at what they consider to be school administrators' unwillingness to check political correctness run amok."
Also, the New York Times sums up the situation, and provides additional examples, in an article entitled: "College Students Protest, Alumni's Fondness Fades and Checks Shrink."
Banzhaf says that just such a concern appears to have played a significant role in helping to pressure his own university not to expel a student for very briefly displaying on campus a religious symbol which might be mistaken for a Nazi swastika.
He notes that Forbes magazine, at the conclusion of a long article severely criticizing GWU for violating free speech in this way, suggested: "Individuals wanting to promote vibrant dialogue on college campuses often donate to their favorite university, maybe funding, say, a lecture series. Perhaps instead GW alumni should consider giving their funds to independent groups promoting free expression and adherent to First Amendment principles."
Banzhaf puts it more succinctly: "People don't want to give if the inmates have taken over the asylum, even if they graduated from it."