A college dean I admired once said: “There is no free lunch.” I remembered this while listening to protesters at universities across the country. Like the youthful Wall Street protests, passionate student demonstrations may illuminate the structural flaws now infecting many public universities caused by adopting a corporate business model: rising tuition and debt, expanding bureaucracy, strict hierarchical controls on speech and behavior, and the smothering of civility with political correctness.
Student protests that have clear focus are powerful — recall the anti-war demonstrations following the Kent State shootings in 1970 that affected one-third of the nation’s campuses. Blurred, fuzzy messages — such as demands to be protected from offensive speech or from nebulous behavior of others — are counterproductive. Once speech and behavior can be controlled, those in governance can stifle anyone they choose for whatever reason. Seize the day! — but focus on the tough, real problems.
“There is no free lunch.”
Dan Biezad, San Luis Obispo
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