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Thursday, November 17, 2016

Thursday, November 17, 2016

After the Election

President-elect Trump did not spend much time on the question of higher education (unlike Bernie Sanders or even Hillary Clinton) during his campaign.  But some things seem clear.  As articulated by Virginia Foxx, likely to be the new Chair of the House Higher Education and Workforce Committee, there will likely be reduced oversight of for-profit colleges and universities, increased emphasis on college completion, decreased regulatory oversight, and little if any expansion of Federal funding for higher education.   We can also expect the Republicans push to give banks greater control over student loans, and to cut federal support for research.

The most immediate issue concerns the support and protection of students.  President-elect Trump has made no secret of his desire to increase deportations and is likely to attempt to eliminate the "Consideration for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals" (DACA) program.  Over 1.5 Million people are presented under the DACA program, not surprisingly with a large percentage in California.  It is essential that Colleges and Universities find ways to honor their commitments to these students and work to enable them to complete their education in peace.  Faculty and students at many institutions are pushing for their colleges and universities to declare themselves sanctuary campuses.  In California CSU Chancellor Timothy White has already declared that CSU will not cooperate with Federal efforts to identify and deport undocumented students (if they occur).  At yesterday's Regents' Meeting President Napolitano indicated that she had appointed a task force to prepare the University to help protect and support undocumented students.  But unlike White she has not committed to non-participation with any Federal immigration crackdown.  This is an issue that the Faculty needs to take up.

We must also recognize that the Trump Administration will likely show little interest in supporting Title IX efforts.  Already we have seen multiple incidents of both racial and sexual harrasment on campuses since the election.  As Hank Reichman has recently observed, it is time to reconsider the debate over so-called "safe spaces."  The concept of safe spaces has been denigrated by many purporting to defend academic freedom over the last few years.  Implicit in these criticisms has been the idea that minority and female students have overstated the extent to which they have not been granted equal access to the civic and intellectual space of colleges and universities.  Critics of safe spaces have too often conjured up fantasies of a Kantian space of equals and ignored the real disparity in the situations that different sorts of students face on campuses.  It is not a denial of individual or free thought to recognize that institutions and faculty have a responsibility to create the conditions that will enable students to grow as scholars.  In that sense, as Brad DeLong has put it "a university is: first of all, a safe space for ideas. second a safe space for scholars."  I would only add that it can only be the first if it is the second and that we must explicitly recognize students as scholars.

The Trump Administration, combined with the ascendancy of Republican power in Congress and the States poses longer term challenges for the very idea of the university.  The Presidency will be held by an authoritarian populist, one house of Congress will be led by an acolyte of Ayn Rand while the other is directed by a walking embodiment of what the eighteenth century would have thought of as "Old Corruption."  Controlling the Presidency and Congress means that the Antonin Scalia's replacement on the Supreme Court will be a representative of the Right.  Given the age of both Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer it is possible the Court will move even further to the Right in the near future.  On the level of the states a similar pattern is in place.

Mr. Trump's campaign articulated a vision of a nationalist America focused on whites, in which the market was liberated from the regulation of the state,  and in which women and minorities were deferential and subordinate.  Indeed, Trump's movement combined with Brexit and the rise of authoritarian nationalist movements in Europe and elsewhere reveal a deep alienation from the universities and colleges.  It is that vision, combined with his administration's political power that must be addressed.

But I will turn to that in a future post.


walto said...

Please don't say "Trump administration". I'm not ready.

California Policy Issues said...


By the way, as I have pointed out, a lot of federal money comes into UC:

Ever see the Friedrich Dürrenmatt play, "The Visit of the Old Lady"? (Also a movie "The Visit") Plot summary if not:

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