Education Policy: Can America Learn from Germany?

At Power Line, Steve Hayward quotes from a Wall Street Journal report about how college does not improve the typical student’s skills at critical thinking.

Freshmen and seniors at about 200 colleges across the U.S. take a little-known test every year to measure how much better they get at learning to think. The results are discouraging.

At more than half of schools, at least a third of seniors were unable to make a cohesive argument, assess the quality of evidence in a document or interpret data in a table, The Wall Street Journal found after reviewing the latest results from dozens of public colleges and universities that gave the exam between 2013 and 2016.

At some of the most prestigious flagship universities, test results indicate the average graduate shows little or no improvement in critical thinking over four years. . .

For prospective students and their parents looking to pick a college, it is almost impossible to figure out which schools help students learn critical thinking, because full results of the standardized test, called the College Learning Assessment Plus, or CLA+, are seldom disclosed to the public. This is true, too, of similar tests.

Then Hayward makes a very good point. This level of failure and deception in other industries might easily be deemed unlawful and a form of consumer fraud.

[T]his deliberate opacity and failure to deliver the promised service would attract the attention of the Federal Trade Commission and other government “consumer protection” agencies. But the higher education cartel is too well wired politically for this to happen.

A big part of the problem here is the American notion that everyone has a ‘right’ to go to college, even though it’s an evident fact of life that most people have neither the need nor the aptitude to pursue higher academic study. A more practical system is that of Germany, where students at an early stage are placed on one of three tracks that can loosely be described as academic, technical, and trade.

Some people think the US might be able to learn something from the German system. Eric A. Hanushek, an economist at the Hoover Institution, pours cold water on that idea, but I don’t find his arguments very convincing.

Over half of young Germans enter apprenticeships, which can lead to certification in more than 300 different careers. Many are blue-collar jobs ranging from construction to baking, but apprenticeships also cover white-collar fields like information technology and engineering.

An apprenticeship generally involves two to three years of work and study after secondary school. In Germany’s “dual system,” apprentices work on the job for three or four days a week and spend the rest of the time in academic instruction paid for by the government. This setup has been shown to ease a student’s transition into work. Openings in apprenticeships are based on employers’ demands for workers, youths who’ve earned a vocational certificate are readily hirable.

Sounds good. So what’s the problem?

Workers enter the job market with skills that often become obsolete as industries change. The early-career advantage is offset by disadvantages later in life. Research shows that after age 50 German workers with general education do better than vocationally trained ones, many of whom leave the workforce.

But in Germany the people with ‘general education’ are generally those with jobs requiring cognitive ability. We would naturally expect them to do better after age 50 than those who rely on more physically demanding types of work.

Furthermore, an ‘early-career advantage’ that doesn’t go away until age 50 sounds pretty good, and a lot better than nothing. If a worker graduates from an apprenticeship at age 21 or 22 and keeps his job until age 50, that’s a good 28 or 29 year career. Many of America’s unemployed and unemployable youth can only dream of having a good job for 28 years.

Germany and the European Union recognize the need to retrain people whose earlier skills become obsolete. There are continuous calls for “lifelong learning.” Unfortunately, governments have not figured out effective ways to retrain older workers, and companies often don’t see the advantage of doing so.

Even if the U.S. succeeded in expanding apprenticeships, the problem of skill obsolescence remains. The American model of providing vocational training to those who do not like or do not do well in the general curriculum does not augur well for adaptation when new skills are required.

It sounds like Hanushek is arguing that no training at all is better than having to someday be retrained, which is absurd. I’m sure Germany does have a problem in retraining their certified workers when their skills become obsolete. In America, in contrast, nobody talks of having to ‘retrain’ our college-graduate Starbucks baristas because they were never trained for anything in the first place. The girl who cleans the toilets at my gym is a college graduate (art) as was the guy who delivered my bedroom furniture (business).

[In Germany,] [t]raining over the course of a career is significantly more prevalent among workers with a general education.

Again, in Germany these are the people with generally more academic and cognitive ability. So not surprisingly, these people are more adaptable and easier to retrain.

The largest problem of skills in the U.S. today isn’t a shortage of young workers with specific competencies. Instead it is a need for more general cognitive skills that give workers the ability to adapt to new circumstances and new jobs.

But American 4-year colleges are neither teaching ‘specific competencies’ nor improving ‘cognitive skills,’ at least for a large proportion of students. For many of these students, learning some kind of competency would offer a dramatic improvement over the current system, which does nothing except burden students with enormous student-loan payments.

The Arrogance of Campus Crybullies: Evergreen Edition

In a post below about George Bridges, the feckless president of Evergreen State College, I embedded a video report by Michael Moynihan of VICE News. The report has been getting a lot of attention, and for good reason–it offers a revealing look at the student protestors creating havoc on campus. The image put forward by the protestors is not a pretty one. They come across as intolerant, unreasoning, arrogant, and entitled to a degree that almost defies credulity. It really has to be seen to be believed, and is worth examining in some detail. Washington State taxpayers in particular should look closely at the chaos depicted in the video and ask themselves if their tax dollars are being well spent at Evergreen.

Evergreen State College Controversy (HBO)

The object of the protestors’ ire is Professor Bret Weinstein, a liberal, who quite reasonably objected to their attempt to ban people from campus, at least for a day, on the basis of race. Student protestors accosted him and disrupted his class. When Professor Weinstein tried calmly to reason with students and to engage them in debate, they responded only with insults and vulgarity.

The students have every right to disagree with Weinstein and to challenge his views. But Weinstein doesn’t deserve this sort of abuse. Frankly, he deserves an apology from everyone involved; the students, and the administrators who allowed this to happen. Some people are wondering if Evergreen will fire Weinstein. I’m wondering when he gets his apology.

The first protestor the video identifies by name (2:22) is “Hadley” a tatted girl I prefer to call Mademoiselle Defarge. She thinks that Weinstein should be fired for disagreeing with her.

The only evidence of uncivil and unprofessional behavior, however, has not come from Weinstein but from the students. Weinstein should go on offense and demand that the disruptive students be suspended or expelled.

Why bring up the professors sex, race, and sexuality? How is any of that relevant to the argument? Who would believe so, other than some kind of bigot?

Weinstein, who I believe is Jewish, has ‘validated Nazis’?

Huddled in their lair, the crybullies then argue that free speech should not protect death threats.

But this is a straw man, because nobody is arguing that death threats are free speech. In fact, anybody who knows anything about the relevant case law knows that the First Amendment does not protect threats of violence. So thanks for that profound insight, snowflakes.

Who appointed Mademoiselle Defarge Grande Inquisidora with the power to ‘weed people out’? The fact is that the college has a great many stakeholders–taxpayers, alumni, donors, faculty, staff–many of whom have been affiliated with the college a lot longer, and have contributed a lot more, than has Mlle. Defarge. Yet she acts like she owns the place. The arrogance is breathtaking.

The crybullies pose as victims, but they’re actually the victimizers. The real victim is Bret Weinstein, along with the serious students on campus who had their education interrupted when the crybullies shut down the campus.

If the crybullies succeed in getting Bret Weinstein fired, he should hire a junkyard dog lawyer and sue the college for wrongful termination and sue the crybullies for defamation.

University Presidents, Then and Now

1968: Far-left goons threaten to shut down San Francisco State, and President S. I. Hayakawa springs into action to stop them so that the majority of students can continue their education uninterrupted.

[Hayakawa] drew nationwide publicity when he climbed onto a sound truck from which protestors were shouting obscenities through a microphone, knocked a protestor to the ground who stood in his way (Hayakawa weighed only 145 pounds), and ripped out the wiring of the sound equipment, which the protestors were unable to repair. On another occasion Hayakawa brought a bullhorn to the protest, and shouted back at demonstrators. He also did not hesitate to call in police in large numbers to arrest protestors who disrupted classes. “In a democratic society,” Hayakawa said in justifying his recourse to the police, “the police are there for the protection of our liberties. It is in a totalitarian society that police take away our liberties.” He took activists at their word that their demands were “non-negotiable,” and refused to negotiate…. “We have a standing obligation to the 17,500 or more students—white, black, yellow, red and brown—who are not on strike and have every right to expect continuation of their education.”

2017: George Bridges, president of Evergreen State College, tries to appease a mob of far-left students, making concessions and ordering campus police to stand down. The resulting chaos shuts down the whole campus, interrupting the education of the 95% of students who are not protesting.

The funniest—and also the saddest—of the videos might be called the Homework Video, or perhaps the Gumbo Video. Viewed more than 86,000 times on YouTube, it recorded the events of a May 24 meeting with Bridges in his office, which the protesters had invaded and taken over, blocking the exits while some of them checked their phones and helped themselves to what appeared to be university-supplied pizza as they sat at the college president’s conference table. The 66-year-old Bridges, balding, pudgy, bespectacled, and given to sporting bow ties on dressy occasions, had the misfortune of visually calling to mind Bobby Trippe, the adipose city slicker raped by hillbillies in John Boorman’s 1972 backwoods horror flick Deliverance. Subconsciously—or perhaps archetypally, since none was alive when Deliverance was ringing up the cash registers during the early 1970s—the Evergreen protesters similarly seemed to smell blood with the eager-to-please and ultimately hapless Bridges. He had already had an encounter with them the day before, when they stormed his office at 4:30 in the afternoon not long after their successful disruption of Weinstein’s biology class. Their greeting, also captured in a video, had been: “F— you, George, we don’t want to hear a God-damned thing you have to say.” One protester had demanded that Bridges “disavow white supremacy.” Bridges had meekly agreed: “I will disavow white supremacy.”

The Evergreen State protesters at the May 24 meeting, munching their pizza slices while a jacketless, white-shirted Bridges stood abjectly before them holding a multipage list of their written demands, clearly regarded such solicitude for their sensibilities as so much contemptible weakness. The meeting opened with this exchange between a female protester and Bridges:

“All of us are students and have homework and projects and things due. Have you sent an email out to your faculty letting them know? What’s been done about that?”

“It’s the first thing I’ll do. I have not done it yet, I will do it right now.”

“So they need to be told that these assignments won’t be done on time, and we don’t need to be penalized for that.”

Jeers and general derision followed, as Bridges tried to shush them with his free hand and make himself heard.

“Y’all can’t keep doing these pointing fingers,” a female student reprimanded him, after he had apologized and meekly placed the offending hand in his pants pocket.

A few minutes later Bridges pleaded over the din to let him please adjourn the meeting so he could read the list of demands: “You have to give me some privacy, folks. . . . I have claustrophobia.”

The meeting ended with the Gumbo Potluck Demand. A male student standing behind Bridges informed him that if he didn’t respond to the occupying students’ list by 5 p.m. that Friday, May 26, “you need to pay for a potluck.”

Bridges was amenable to that order, too: “We’ll be paying for a potluck anyway,” he replied.

“We want gumbo!” another student shouted.

A knot of students on the other side of the table turned that into a chant: “We want gumbo!”

The opening sentence of Bridges’s statement in response to the students’ demands set the tone and the tenor for everything that followed:

“I’m George Bridges, I use he/him pronouns.”

What followed was Evergreen-predictable. Apologies to the Native Americans whose “land was stolen and on which the college stands”? Check. That “mandatory sensitivity and cultural competency training” for faculty? Check and check. “We commit to annual mandatory training for all faculty beginning in fall 2017,” Bridges said. And there was more: the creation of an “equity center.” A “Trans & Queer Center coordinator.” A “position that will support undocumented students.” And more free food, after the meeting adjourned at 6 p.m.

The Long-Term Rise in College Tuition: Justifiable or Not?

Our friend Mark Perry possesses a unique talent for producing interesting graphs of economic data. Recently, he produced one regarding the long-term increase in college tuition and fees.

Mark’s point is that tuition has been rising faster than it would have in a purely free market, mostly due to intervention by government in the form of grants and subsidized student loans. Mark implicitly assumes that in the absence of these malefic interventions, we would expect tuition to rise no faster than the overall average level of prices. This assumption, however, is not correct, and contradicts Mark’s own explanation for another compelling graph he produced last fall.

At the time, Mark was asked by the Washington Post to explain why prices of some goods in his graph had fallen while others, including education, had risen dramatically. Here was Mark’s answer, which is essentially correct.

“The ‘miracle of manufacturing’ delivers lower prices all the time, and would explain why those prices [of manufactured goods like TVs] have decreased significantly over time, relative to overall price increases,” he said in an email.

On the flip side, things like education and medical care can’t be produced in a factory, so those pressures do not apply.

That’s right. Because education is not produced in a factory, we would expect the price, even in a free market, to increase faster than the average level of prices. It follows that the CPI does not provide a valid benchmark for evaluating the price of tuition. The sole fact that tuition has increased faster than the CPI price index does not provide sufficient evidence to conclude that tuition has risen too rapidly.

In contrast, prices of manufactured goods tend to fall, or rise less rapidly, over time due to cost savings fostered by improvements in productivity. For instance, before Henry Ford revolutionized the auto industry, a car cost more than a house. By introducing more efficient factory techniques, in just 8 years Ford was able to slash the price of a car by half. Similarly, if car prices during the past 20 years have not increased significantly, as shown in Mark’s graph, the reason is primarily due to increased automation and expanded use of industrial robots.

Because education is not produced in a factory, however, increasing productivity is not so easy. In fact, aside from a few adornments like Power Point slides, a classroom lecture or lesson is essentially produced today the same way it was hundreds of years ago. The primary cost factor driving the price of education is, as it always has been, the salaries and benefits paid to instructors. It follows that the only way to substantially increase productivity is to somehow economize on the use of classroom instructors. Maybe online classes will eventually achieve those economies, but that remains to be seen.

The fact that the prices of labor-intensive services like education or health care can be expected to rise, even in a free market, faster than the average level of prices is known as ‘cost disease,’ and was first explained decades ago by economist William Baumol.

So, can cost disease alone, without considering interventions by government, explain the long-term rise in college tuition?

First of all, Mark’s first graph uses the tuition price that is ‘posted,’ but that’s not the price that students actually pay because they receive substantial discounts euphemistically known as ‘scholarships.’ We therefore need to subtract scholarships to obtain the so-called net price.

In a subsequent tweet, Mark referenced data from the College Board on the net price of tuition, fees, room, and board (TFRB) over the past 20 (not 50) years.

That College Board data, available here, indicates that, adjusting for inflation, TFRB increased from $8,730 in 1996 to $14,210 in 2016. As Mark notes, this implies an increase of 63 percent.  Price indexes, however, tend to overestimate the rate of inflation. In particular, Michael Boskin says that the CPI overestimates inflation by about 0.8 or 0.9 percentage points per year. Shaving 0.8 points off the inflation rate puts 1996 TFRB, in terms of 2016 dollars, at only $7,440, not $8,730. Now the inflation-adjusted increase in TFRB looks even bigger: 91%!

But we have not yet accounted for cost disease, which implies that prices should rise in the long term approximately as fast as labor productivity. From 1996-2016, labor productivity increased about 49 percent. So cost disease alone would have increased TFRB from $7,440 to $11,090. This figure gives the correct benchmark for judging if tuition increased faster than would be expected in a free market. Turns out that it did, because $14,210 is greater than $11,090. As a percentage, however, today’s figure exceeds the benchmark by 28%, or only a little more than one percent per year. This rate of increase is far less dramatic than implied by Mark’s first graph.

Finally, to complete the picture, we would need to account for changes in the quality of higher education. Students today perhaps receive better service than they did in the past. Even if the classroom experience hasn’t improved, casual observation suggests that housing, food, and athletic facilities have improved considerably. The excess price increase of just over one percent per year could possibly reflect these improvements.

In short, the long term increase in tuition is much more nearly justifiable than most everyone believes.

The Demise of Higher Ed: Yale Gives Awards to Infamous Crybullies

As just the latest milestone in the ongoing devolution of higher education, the formerly-great Yale University has bestowed a graduation award on the infamous snowflake student mocked by The Simpsons. The episode satirizes the notorious 2015 confrontation at Yale between campus crybullies and college master Nicolas Christakis. At the time, video of that confrontation went viral online.

The videos that Tablet exclusively posted last year, which showed a further 25 minutes of what was ultimately an hours-long confrontation, depicted a procession of students berating Christakis. In one clip, a male student strides up to Christakis and, standing mere inches from his face, orders the professor to “look at me.” Assuming this position of physical intimidation, the student then proceeds to declare that Christakis is incapable of understanding what he and his classmates are feeling because Christakis is white, and, ipso facto, cannot be a victim of racism. In another clip, a female student accuses Christakis of “strip[ping] people of their humanity” and “creat[ing] a space for violence to happen”…

That line is quoted at the 0:55 mark of the Simpsons excerpt below.

The Simpsons – SJWs at Yale

Of Yale’s graduating class, it was these two students whom the Nakanishi Prize selection committee deemed most deserving of a prize for “enhancing race and/or ethnic relations” on campus. Hectoring bullies quick to throw baseless accusations of racism or worse; cosseted brats unscrupulous in their determination to smear the reputations of good people, these individuals in actuality represent the antithesis of everything this award is intended to honor. Yet, in the citation that was read to all the graduating seniors and their families on Class Day, Yale praised the latter student as “a fierce truthteller.”

This, for a hysterical liar who accused one of the university’s most distinguished academic minds of inciting “violence” upon his own students.

What Yale ought to have done, as I wrote back when the original conflagration surfaced in November 2015, was instruct its students to “grow up.” Because the university failed to do this, thereby offering its implicit endorsement of the scurrilous charges hurled against two well-regarded members of its faculty, Nicholas Christakis eventually resigned as Master of Silliman College and his wife quit teaching at Yale altogether. And now, to add insult to injury, Yale has decided to award their tormentors as paragons of communal healing. It is a fittingly disgraceful coda to one of the most disgusting chapters in Yale’s recent history.

At this point, most of so-called higher education is at best a huge waste of resources, and at worst, a hub of political power for the radical left that is poisoning and degrading America’s culture and polity. The political right, if it were smart, would leave academia free to indulge its worst instincts until in eventually implodes.

How to Destroy Higher Education

A couple of weeks ago, we reported that the University of Arizona was using taxpayer money to pay students to police the speech of their fellow students. Now comes news that also UCLA is adopting similar measures against campus freedom.

The University of California-Los Angeles is offering to pay students to serve as “Social Justice Advocates” who will “educate” their peers about “systems [of] oppression.”

The Social Justice Advocates program seeks students who want to help their classmates “navigate a world that operates on whiteness, patriarchy, and heteronormativity as the primary ideologies,” and comes with a quarterly stipend, the amount of which has yet to be determined.

In a critique at pjmedia.com, Tom Knighton summarizes the program’s objective as follows.

UCLA’s focus will be on really hammering home the “white men suck and should probably be dead” message. In case the students hadn’t heard it yet that day.

Sounds about right.

And what is the source of funding for UCLA’s version of the Red Guards?

The program is funded through the Bruin Excellence & Student Transformation Grant Program (BEST), which receives funding from the university’s Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion and from Gold Shield, Alumnae of UCLA.

Thanks, ladies!

Meanwhile, in a remarkably authoritarian piece at Time magazine, Lisa Wade, PhD, advocates banning campus fraternities.

I make no claims that it will be easy. Fraternities have dominated campuses, defied authorities and rebuffed efforts at suppression for nearly 200 years. But in that time we have ended slavery, given women the vote and put men on the moon. Of course we can get rid of fraternities. College presidents, administrators and trustees just have to muster the will to do it. As for the rest of us, we need to keep pressure on them to do so, and keep counting the bodies until they act.

Well, if feminists like Lisa Wade succeed in making college campuses inhospitable to men, then men are going to stop attending. The college experience is a good, produced and marketed by an industry, and sold to a consumer. If feminists keep ramping up the hostility to men, at some point, men are going to drop out of the market for the college experience. And if men stop attending, then straight women are not going to want to attend either. That won’t leave sufficient demand to sustain the system of higher education as we know it, and so eventually, the system will collapse.

Right now, the universities are one of the primary power bases of the political left. If the political right were smart (lolz), they would be actively seeking some way to destroy the universities. A direct political assault would meet with stiff resistance. But here’s a strategy that would work:

Step 1. Let radical feminists take over the universities.

Step 2. Wait.

Step 3. Winning.

U of Arizona Using Taxpayer Money to Employ Red Guards

The Red Guards were gangs of students empowered by Chinese authorities in the 1960s to terrorize the population by enforcing ideological orthodoxy. Fifty years later, the University of Arizona is launching its own version of the Red Guards.

Administrators at the University of Arizona are now accepting applications for “social justice advocates,” whose job it is to snitch on other students accused of bias. They’re also expected to hold educational programs about “the mosaic of diversity, multiculturalism and inclusivity” and maintain “social justice bulletin boards” in student residence halls.

The job, which officially calls (archived link) for the advocates to “report any bias incidents or claims to appropriate Residence Life staff,” pays the student workers $10 an hour. They’re expected to work 15 hours a week, which means they could be making as much as $600 a month to police their fellow students.

Reminder: The University of Arizona is a state-sponsored institution, which means the university is governed by the Bill of Rights, including the First Amendment, which protects free speech. Under the laws of the United States, therefore, it is unlawful for the University of Arizona to police the speech of its students. In fact, such an organized attempt to police speech constitutes a ‘conspiracy to interfere with civil rights,’ which under 18 U.S. Code § 241 is a federal felony. Furthermore, 42 U.S. Code § 1985 enables victims to sue for damages in federal court.

Personally, I would encourage any students whose rights are violated by the 21st century Red Guards to sue their university from here to Timbuktu.

Also, it is long overdue that the Justice Department step in to protect the rights of Americans on campus. During the Obama Administration, federal bureaucrats famously issued a Dear Colleague letter to universities regarding sexual assault. At the very least, Justice needs to start by sending a Dear Colleague letter reminding universities that suppressing free speech is a federal felony.

Or at least that’s a possible strategy if we still believe the universities are worth saving. Otherwise, an alternative would be to just leave the universities free to continue to discredit themselves until they implode. Because in the long run, parents are not going to willingly shell out tens of thousands of dollars for their children to attend Maoist indoctrination camps where they’re encouraged to play the role of Red Guards, repressing the rights of their fellow students.

I also don’t believe that citizens should or would willingly allow their hard earned tax dollars to be spent on employing Red Guards at $600 per month.

Call me an optimist, but I gotta believe the universities implode before they go full Maoist.

College: Watered Down

Blogger Audacious Epigone (A. E.) has been mining data from the General Social Survey, and he uncovered a remarkable downward trend in a measure of the literacy of college graduates. GSS for decades has been administering a test called Wordsum to its survey takers. To facilitate comparison over time, the test has never changed, and consists of just ten vocabulary words. The test, available here, is not particularly hard, and most educated persons should be able to score at least nine out of ten.

Indeed, A. E. shows that, forty years ago, roughly half of college graduates between the ages of 25 and 40 did score 9 or 10 out of 10. Performance, however, has steadily deteriorated over time, so that now only about one in six can make that score.

A. E. attributes the decline to over-expansion of higher education causing a decline in the average level of student talent. Forty years ago, only a relatively more select group of academically talented people went to college. At that time, only 12% of the population had degrees. Now, 33% do. Just as an individual school cannot generally increase enrollment without lowering standards, neither can higher education as a whole.

Letting more people into college was supposed to lift them up, but instead, they have brought college down to their own level. It’s fair to say that the expanded college population has changed college more than college has changed them.

If you follow the link to the test, it really consists of words that any literate person should know. I hesitated a bit over only one of the words. The fact that five out of six college graduates gets two or more wrong is frankly appalling.

This evidence concurs with my anecdotal experience of running into young college graduates who don’t seem to have learned anything. For instance, I recently met a young lady with an art degree (not from UD) who didn’t know what a fresco was.

She also has about $100,000 in student loan debt.

All this evidence points to the fact that higher education is massively over-expanded due to government subsidies. As a result, our current system of higher education involves an incalculably huge waste of resources. Government subsidies need to be eliminated so that the whole system can be substantially scaled back.

Hunger Strike: How does it work?

At the formerly-great Yale University, graduate students are engaging in a ‘symbolic hunger strike’ over benefits.

That “collective fast” they’re embarked upon has been described as a “hunger strike.” In reality, though, it’s only a virtual or symbolic hunger strike. That is, the students stand around in front of President Salovey’s house whining, holding signs, and feeling sorry for  themselves only until they feel hungry.

Then they go eat.

You misspelled ‘ludicrous.’

The grad students are protesting the oppressed state of their existence as PhD students at a world-renowned university. Here are the meager rations that Yale provides them:

  • A full tuition waiver
  • $30,000 per year stipend
  • health insurance

Huh. When I was a PhD student a generation ago, I also got the tuition waiver, but my stipend wasn’t $30,000. Using the Social Security Administration’s wage index to covert my stipend to today’s dollars yields…$12,000. We also did not get health insurance, and in fact I went several years without health insurance. During those years, there were a couple of occasions when I incurred medical bills and needed insurance but didn’t have it. Both times I had to negotiate a payment reduction with the provider and pay the rest out of pocket.

So as a PhD student, my stipend was only 40 percent of what the Yale snowflakes are paid, and unlike them, I had no health coverage. Somehow, I never considered going on strike:  hunger, symbolic hunger, or otherwise.

This phony hunger strike is just more evidence, as if more were needed, that the leftist mind is unusually at ease with phony poses and personal hypocrisy.

But maybe, after all, there’s still hope for Yale yet.

Reminder: Campus Violence that Suppresses Speech is a Federal Crime

A New York Post editorial offers a good roundup of prominent speakers who have recently been prevented from giving speeches by what Ace calls the “feral humanoids” who infest university campuses.

UC-Berkeley this week canceled an April 27 Ann Coulter speech, fearing riots….

Masked, rock-throwing thugs prevented a February speech by Milo Yiannopoulos….

Berkeley’s move follows the Black Lives Matter disruption of a UCLA speech by the Manhattan Institute’s Heather Mac Donald, and efforts to muzzle her the next night at Claremont-Pomona College….

Last month, goons stopped American Enterprise Institute scholar Charles Murray from delivering a moderately conservative talk at Middlebury College, with Professor Allison Stanger hospitalized by the violence.

Of course, only speakers on the political right are muzzled; the commandant of a North Korean gulag could probably speak unimpeded, as did Iran’s Ahmadinejad at Columbia a few years ago. And the excuse given by university officials is always the same: safety. Here, for instance, is Berkeley’s statement on nixing Coulter.

“We have been unable to find a safe and suitable venue,” said the letter from Vice Chancellor Scott Biddy and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Stephen Sutton. “Given current active security threats, it is not possible to assure that the event could be held successfully.”

“Active security threats,” you say? And where might those threats be coming from? ISIS? North Korea? Why no, the threat of violence is coming from Berkeley’s own students and employees. So what the Berkeley Vice Chancellors are saying is that they cannot maintain order among their own people. This is a huge admission of failure on the part of the university administration.

The primary mission of the university is to maintain an environment of free intellectual inquiry. But instead of fulfilling that mission, the university administrators prefer to run their institutions as left-wing indoctrination camps. The administrators probably have it within their power to maintain order. The universities (scandalously) even have their own armed police forces. They could arrest, and subsequently suspend or expel students who engage in disorderly conduct. As Thomas Lifson points out,

There are plenty of law enforcement resources available to the University of California if it wished to preserve the tradition of open inquiry upon which the many public (i.e., taxpayer) subsidies and privileges available to U.C. are premised. When Governor Ronald Reagan faced a campus insurrection at Berkeley, he called in the National Guard and tear-gassed the protesters in Sproul Plaza – the very place the anti-Milo rioters used to destroy property and threaten lives.

If they took action, Berkeley officials could insure freedom of speech and assembly. But they choose not to. They willingly allow the Heckler’s Veto to censor speech, because they agree with the hecklers.

Unless these universities restore free speech and inquiry, they are not worthy of continued support from the public. Maybe a few lefties are willing to pay tuition and taxes to support far-left camps posing as institutions of intellectual inquiry, but most people are not. It is high time that taxpayers and their elected representatives insist that universities clean up their act. When administrators like Berkeley’s Scott Biddy and Stephen Sutton claim that they cannot allow speech–because safety–the state legislature should respond by asking for their resignations. Or as the New York Post put it,

Increasingly, US campuses are the exact opposite of the bastions of free thought and debate they’re supposed to be. If the schools can’t save themselves, society has every right to demand new management.
[Emphasis added.]

Not only should people lose their jobs, but the civil rights division of the Justice Department would be justified in launching a criminal investigation, particularly in the case of Berkeley. Many of these schools including Berkeley are state-run institutions, which means they must abide by the First Amendment. Back in February, Berkeley city and university officials let rioters run wild, making no arrests, even though they were beating people and causing over $500,000 in damages.

Moreover, complicity in violence and intimidation that prevents people from exercising their Constitutional rights is a crime under 18 U.S. Code § 241.

If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same;…They shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years…

Every time campus leftists organize to use intimidation to shut down conservative speakers, they haven’t just been rude or unsporting, they have committed a federal crime. It is a crime, and long overdue that the Justice Department start treating it as such.

I also agree with Professor Glenn Reynolds that President Trump would be justified in sending in the National Guard to protect campus speakers, as Eisenhower did in Little Rock to allow black students to safely attend high school. Both cases involve not just public safety, but also an essential issue of Civil Rights.