Before leaving office, then-President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned of the Military-Industrial Complex — a union of formidable forces bent on reaping profits from the destruction of human life in places such as Vietnam.
If he were alive today, Ike might well warn of something else — which while not as destructive is menacing all the same: It’s what I like to call the University-Industrial Complex.
The forces at work with it seem to be both money-oriented and politically motivated, including the rising costs of receiving a higher education and an increasingly predominant environment on campuses which discourages exchanges of free thoughts and ideas.
One example came this week when a scheduled appearance by conservative political commentator, writer and lawyer Ann Coulter at the University of California-Berkeley was cancelled over concerns about potential unrest. There have been other examples of this across the country in which planned visits by non-left-leaning figures deemed politically incorrect were cancelled or negatively targeted.
All part of my argument that universities today are largely Marxist training grounds for the New World Order that advocates open borders and puts certain other interests above those of rank-and-file Americans.
I would think parents’ chief wish in sending children to college nowadays is making sure they receive an education that will allow them to get good jobs and otherwise pursue the American Dream.
After all, this is coming at a huge price. Every time you turn around, it seems some university is raising tuition rates, maybe just 3 or 4 percent, but which adds up over time. Attending even public universities has become unreachable for many families, not to mention private colleges.
The average cost of tuition and fees for the 2016–2017 academic year is $33,480 at private schools, $9,650 for state residents at public colleges and $24,930 for out-of-state residents enrolled in public universities, according to the College Board.
The expense of higher education has jumped more than 500 percent since 1985, way above medical costs, for example (surging more than 286 percent during the same period). College costs 4.5 times more than in the mid-1980s.
All this seems to be a reflection of universities’ fight to be at the top of the heap in attracting students willing to pay such exorbitant prices in the quest for success, not only to maintain their little empires but construct additional buildings left and right.
Regardless of the motivation, the higher costs have forced more students to take out loans to achieve those coveted sheepskins. The Federal Reserve Bank reported just this month that graduates in 2015 left college with an average of $34,000 in debt.
It’s easy to understand why former Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders was able to gain so much traction with his call for free college tuition.
Yet whether it’s free or ultra-expensive, students should be confident of receiving an education to prepare them for a chosen career field — along with “well-rounded” instruction. What I mean by that is much of what’s learned at a large four-year institution is picked up not in the classroom, but interactions among students in the activity center or soaking up sunshine on the quad.
They deal with others from all walks of life, geographic locations and nationalities, but despite their cultural or other differences universities traditionally have encouraged students to be who they are and accept contrasting viewpoints.
But lately that’s changed.
It seems people, both students and visiting speakers, still may say what they want on campus — as long as it conforms to the liberal agenda. There is a conscious effort afoot to suppress any opinions that might somehow hamper the Marxist brainwashing of our youth.
Here again, we’re talking about college campuses — public-funded venues where people should be allowed to exercise constitutionally protected free speech, not Nazi concentration camps or similar places one would expect to be oppressive.
In Ann Coulter’s case, her appearance at Berkeley was canceled amid mounting concerns about potentially violent protests in reaction to her coming there.
So is this going to become a regular excuse for denying conservative speakers? If so, the American collegiate landscape is reverting to tactics used by Hitler’s Brownshirts in spreading terror and intimidation to silence anyone with opposing views.
If liberal university administrators and faculty members truly believe their philosophies and beliefs are so solid, they shouldn’t fear competition.
Tom Joyce is a staff writer for The Mount Airy News. He may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.