The unfolding disaster at the University of Missouri: the University doubles down

The scandal from last November has led to:

  • Nationwide mockery
  • A possible decrease in state funding
  • A big loss in enrollment, which will lead to much greater loss in revenue

So what has been the reaction to these events? There are some new developments showing that even in a worsening situation, the University refuses to change its course.

  • The Human Resources Department is reported to be hiring additional staff to handle the rush of inquiries about retirement from faculty and staff.
  • The drop in enrollment, our spies say, is greater than the MU administration has acknowledged.
  • There is a new requirement. To graduate, students must have passed a new three-credit course in diversity. This has been promoted for decades by radical faculty. It is in addition to the diversity indoctrination required of all incoming freshmen. What will all this cost? Will this increase flagging enrollment?
  • The University System, which manages the four campuses, has created a new position, Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer. It pays $235,000 p.a.

The Legislature is currently deliberating a proposed cut of nearly $8 million from the UM System’s appropriation and $1 million from the Columbia campus’s. Although the projected cuts may well be restored, this has produced the expected cries of doom. These “reactionary budget cuts” will hurt students and staff. We must be “unwavering” in our support of the University system. And so on.

A $1 million cut for MU (the Columbia campus) is a drop in the bucket, far below one percent of the annual state support. At this moment the Legislature has only a blunt instrument with which to try to get the University to come to its senses. The proposed cut will not hurt students unless MU foolishly increases tuition rates. What hurts much more is the loss of tuition revenue from the expected drop in enrollment, which spies tell us is greater than the administration is willing to acknowledge. This will probably hurt staffing. But so would cutting out the bloat. MU along with similar research universities is exposed to loss in enrollment because it has long been overcharging undergraduates in order to subsidize other operations.

To support a university does not involve just money. We support it best when we reform and improve it with student learning in mind. A bigger cut, which we recommend, should not be considered punitive, but as a greater stimulus to reform. Let us not fall for the common rhetorical technique of confusing the institution with the students’ educational needs, which can be satisfied at other institutions and in other ways. We have long recommended changing the funding model, so that state financial support goes through the students and their parents in addition to directly to institutions. This introduces competition among institutions and gives students greater opportunity and choice.

Diversity is a pernicious worldview common among left-wing academics. It has long held a foothold at MU and the UM System. The MU Chancellor’s Diversity Initiative is an example. The radical nature of some courses and the enforcement of political correctness by the MU Equity Office could also be cited. The new Diversity Officer will initiate a system-wide review of the issues under his purview with a view towards satisfying the demands of ConcernedStudent1950 and the hiring of more minority faculty and staff (as if these goals have not been obsessively pursued for decades.) This will cost $921,000, in addition to the cost of the new Officer’s salary and that of his new staff of well over half a million. In other words, MU and the UM System have learned nothing. Complaining about the cuts and yet spending more, they are merely repeating their mistakes with increased vehemence.

We recommend:

  • The required course on diversity is not academic in that it will not consider alternatives to or weaknesses in the diversity worldview. Graduation requirements for non-academic courses should be rescinded.
  • To start to improve the campus climate, which is oppressive for those not infected by political correctness, the Legislature should immediately mandate that state-supported institutions of higher education must tolerate diversity of intellectual thought and may not punish or discourage speech that is legally permitted. It is not the job of a university to attempt to correct thought and speech it finds ‘inappropriate.’ It must practice the tolerance it proclaims.
  • Improve the state funding model by adopting the recommendation above.
  • Begin structural reform by creating a state-wide board governing all post-secondary education for state-supported institutions. The parameters under which this Board is to operate to be determined by a blue-ribbon panel named by and reporting to the Legislature.
  • Specify the rules under which all demonstrations will be permitted to take place. The Coordinating Board of Higher Education already has this power under existing statute.     Troglo

Troglo (L. H. Kevil)

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