A new academic year is upon us. Students, parents, and faculty are excited. But they are also nervous. These are difficult times for higher education in America.
At all but the nation's top colleges and universities, enrollments are down and budgets are strapped. Many explanations have been offered about why higher education is floundering: wasteful administrative bloat and a reckless construction frenzy make almost every critics' list.
Rightly so. After all, how many assistant deans and new athletic fields does a college really need? Far fewer than academic bureaucrats seem to think, in my humble opinion.
The heavy-headed use of racial and ethnic preferences in student admissions, financial aid, and faculty hiring is also to blame, but almost nobody ever mentions that. The explanation for the conspiracy of silence about affirmative action is easy to identify: As this year's entering class will quickly learn, higher education is dominated by the Left and racial preferences are the sacred cow of the Left.
Worse yet, critics of racial preferences are often retaliated against in both subtle and not so subtle ways. (Opposition to preferential treatment is not well received at faculty meetings, to put it mildly.)