Hanson laments a decline in American higher education

Victor Davis Hanson writes at National Review Online about the college bribery scandal and its implications for American higher education.

This fraud was also the logical, if extreme, expression of university admissions systems. Universities rarely disclose exactly how they select students for admission — despite the fact that even private colleges and universities are supposed to be publicly accountable and transparent, given that they receive billions of dollars in taxpayer grant money and benefit from federally guaranteed student loans.

The reason the pay-for-play fraud went on so long, and will likely soon grow to encompass more coaches and universities, is that schools, using a variety of euphemisms, have long ignored merit. Their doctrine apparently suggested to the less-than-ethical that everyone was finding some sort of edge and that therefore there would be little liability in doing the same.

After all, is this growing scandal of doctored résumés and phony documents all that much worse than turning down a better qualified applicant, with far higher test scores and grades, because he is of the wrong race? Is it worse than quietly and without a peep accepting a rich kid over a welder’s son in Bakersfield with better credentials because the former’s dad gave millions to the university — an institution loudly committed to equality, social justice, and dethroning “privilege”?

The admissions scandal follows a growing pattern of questionable behavior on the part of our universities. For all practical purposes, campuses have decided that in order to advance their own politicized agendas, their unwoke students, guests, or occasional conservative faculty don’t really need the protection of the U.S. Constitution.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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