from the Wall Street Journal, Mizzou Pays a Price for Appeasing the Left by Jillian Kay Melchior
He was not alone. Thousands of pages of emails I obtained through the Missouri Freedom of Information Act show that many alumni and other supporters were disgusted with administrators’ feeble response to the disruptions. Like Mr. Vaughn, many promised they’d stop attending athletic events. Others vowed they’d never send their children or grandchildren to the university. It now appears many of them have made good on those promises.
Donors, parents, alumni, sports fans and prospective students raged against the administration’s caving in. “At breakfast this morning, my wife and I agreed that MU is NOT a school we would even consider for our three children,” wrote Victor Wirtz, a 1978 alum, adding that the university “has devolved into the Berkeley of the Midwest.”
As classes begin this week, freshmen enrollment is down 35% since the protests, according to the latest numbers the university has publicly released. Mizzou is beginning the year with the smallest incoming class since 1999. Overall enrollment is down by more than 2,000 students, to 33,200. The campus has taken seven dormitories out of service.
The plummeting support has also cost jobs. In May, Mizzou announced it would lay off as many as 100 people and eliminate 300 more positions through retirement and attrition. Last year the university reduced its library staff and cut 50 cleaning and maintenance jobs.
Mizzou’s 2016 football season drew almost 13,000 fewer attendees than in 2015, local media reported. During basketball games, one-third of the seats in the Mizzou Arena sat empty.
Universities have consistently underestimated the power of a furious public. At the same time, they’ve overestimated the power of student activists, who have only as much influence as administrators give them. Far from avoiding controversy, administrators who respond to campus radicals with cowardice and capitulation should expect to pay a steep price for years.
This rejection of political correctness and campus illiberalism is the same force that helped propel Trump into The White House.
If college was free there would be no market force to fight this illiberalism. Price and value are moderating mechanisms that reflect what consumers want. It is as true for college as it is for any other service.