by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Anthony Hennen of the Martin Center devotes a column to a new tool in the fight against college campus craziness.
Inane occurrences on college campuses tend to parachute into national news headlines every week or two. Those glimpses, however, cannot do justice to the reality of the collegiate atmosphere.
To do so, a recent satire on higher ed—Original Prin by Randy Boyagoda—captures that atmosphere well for those outside the academic bubble. It’s light-hearted rather than biting, coming from a writer who is clearly fond of academia but still critical. That fondness comes from his life in academia; Boyagoda is a professor of English at the University of Toronto and served as the president of PEN Canada from 2015-2017.
Readers won’t find many sensitive snowflakes or club-wielding social justice warriors in the author’s cast of characters, though: Boyagoda focuses on self-interested faculty and administrators more than students. He uses hyperbole (or is it only minor exaggeration?) to show the rot within higher ed that threatens its existence.
In Original Prin, Princely St. John Umbiligoda (Prin for short) is an English professor in Toronto (an expert on “representations of seahorses and other marine life in Canadian literature”) whose small Catholic college (UFU, short for University of the Family Universal) faces financial ruin. To save the college, its leaders need cash fast. They have two options: Work with Chinese condo developers to make the school an assisted-living facility where professors teach the elderly residents, or partner with Dragomans, a fictional Middle Eastern country, to build an online degree program for its people.