The University of Missouri AKA Mizzou reportedly suffered a devastating 35% drop in freshman enrollment – a lost of almost $16.6 million in annual tuition which will continue for years until this cohort graduates – largely as a result of protests which included illegal actions aided and abetted by faculty two years ago.
As a result, it has been forced to close 7 dormitories next year, and will eliminate 400 positions at the university.
This should be a matter of considerable concern to other institutions of higher learning, since Mizzou is a public flagship university with a well recognized name which has seen enrollment grow virtually every year since 2000, suggests public interest law professor John Banzhaf.
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This crisis is not surprising since a Harvard study of what some have called the “Melissa Click effect” – named after a former faculty member who assaulted a student during the protests – shows that scandals such as the Mizzou protests can cause precipitous drops in enrollment and huge financial losses.
At Mizzou, the protests and related activities spiraled out of control, and both the Missouri system’s president and the Mizzou chancellor gave in to student pressure and resigned. Before doing so, the President yielded to most of the demands of the small student group leading the protests.
All this shows that yielding to demands by small groups of militant students may not be an effective technique for preventing serious harm to a university’s future, and that not taking firm and effective action when protest activities became illegal may have prolonged the problem, including the adverse publicity which triggered to enrollment drop, suggests Banzhaf.
While some other colleges have also yielded to legal as well as illegal protests by small student groups, and may likewise suffer losses to their reputations and in their enrollment figures, some have declined even to discuss so-called student “demands,” and a few have even disciplined students when their activities went beyond lawful protest, and improperly or even illegally disrupted campus activities.