by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The latest commentary from the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy features Thomas Lambert’s reaction to recent shenanigans at the University of Missouri.
Nearly three months have passed since student protests upended the institution where I teach law, the University of Missouri (Mizzou). There have been several changes on the Columbia campus.
We now have a highly regarded African-American interim president, Michael Middleton, who has a long history at the university. Our interim chancellor seems far more attuned to the campus climate and hosts weekly “chats with the chancellor” to foster a more open atmosphere. On the surface, things seem to have returned to normal or perhaps even improved.
Recent trends, however, suggest that post-protest Mizzou is likely to experience three adverse developments.
First, a great university needs well-qualified students and the financial resources to hire and retain top faculty. Capitulating to the protesters has impaired Mizzou’s ability to secure both.
Not surprisingly, applications are down significantly. According to a leaked internal memorandum, undergraduate applications for the 2016-17 term dropped by five percent from the previous year. Graduate applications fell a whopping 19 percent.
In particular, applications from students with high ACT scores (30 or above) were down 7.7 percent, and the number of African-American applicants plummeted by 19 percent. …
… Second, free speech and open inquiry will suffer.
Mizzou officials responded to the repugnant racist expressions that sparked last fall’s protests by restricting speech that some people might find “hurtful.” …
… Finally, and most ironically, the protesters’ success is likely to worsen race relations at Mizzou.
As noted, an apparent result of the protests has been a disproportionate reduction in applications from black candidates. Following last fall’s turmoil, however, there is tremendous pressure on admissions officials to increase the percentage of black students.
To achieve that with a “whiter” pool of applicants, the university will have to admit a higher percentage of black candidates than in the past, but that will require lower admissions standards for black students. The result will be to increase the discrepancy between the credentials of Mizzou’s white and black students.