Here is where I would recommend legislators start: eliminate as a matter of law all non-essential designations in hiring and university admissions. In short, forbid asking anyone what their race or religion is, and forbid maintaining such designations, even in private databases, on the penalty of law. Including the US census.

We can imagine the crying and gnashing of teeth which the race hustlers (“anti-racists”) will emit when faced with such a development. And we know where the great mass of Americans of all colors and faiths will land on such a question. What we do not yet know is whether or not our legislators will stand for the color blind world they claim to desire. Let’s find out.

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Oct 2, 2022·edited Oct 2, 2022

Before you charge into the lion's den you need to think about your opponent's strongest weapon and how you plan on countering it. In this case the Left superweapon and undefeated heavyweight champion of American politics and discourse is the Bigotry Accusation.

Every person who thinks about getting involved in any of this needs to prepare for what comes next and how they will react: what do you do when social media unleashes its avalanche of Bigotry Accusations? When your wife/husband says all their friends think you're a "racist"? When all your kids' friends and future colleges think their parent is a "racist"? When you're tarred till death with the scarlet R?

Anyone paying attention to either American academia or letters in the past say 25 years (I'm thinking from the Sokal Hoax onward) knows that Left academia has taken over dept after dept and successfuly deconstructed and dismantled so much of our cultural heritage (and the transmission thereof), but no one has had the nerve to launch a frontal attack and get skunk-sprayed by the inevitable charges of Unbearable Whiteness and causing harms to the poor sad marginalized (cue ASPCA commercial soundtrack).

No Republican in any major capacity, even ones from states under complete Republican control, has had the stomach for cleaning out our academic madrassas and their cadres of Victim Studies jihadists, except maybe DeSantis recently. Instead every single Republican governor, legislature and trustee have sat back thinking about tee times while an entire generation was taught to despise them and the entire history of our country.

And if they try to fight now to get the cow back in the barn years after it's been sold to McDonald's and digested by its customers, they'll either use a dull meat cleaver where a delicate scalpel is needed, or they'll run and hide the moment the local news tries to make them wear the Klan hood.

But I sincerely hope I'm wrong.

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The elite universities are a lost cause. Too demoralized and even the wealthy trustees are too cowardly to do anything about it. The best course of action is to start new academies like UATX. https://yuribezmenov.substack.com/p/how-to-rank-the-top-npc-universities

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The assumption that all democrats are progressive, and all republicans are conservative belies the fact that progressivism has seeped into every aspect of our lives making progressivism as impossible to remove without destroying conservativism as it is to remove the weeds from wheat crops without ruining the crop. Our very language is compromised.

What we call liberal is not liberal. What we call progressive is not progressive. What we call inclusion is actually exclusion. What a progressive calls conservative is not recognizable to a conservative, nor is what a conservative calls progressive recognizable to a progressive. Our language has become a weapon in what we now think of politics as warfare.

Political debate, if not all debate, has turned into who chants their slogans the loudest. Democracy has become mob action. Rioting has turned into a public disturbance as a cover for looting, made even more effective when police do the rioting.

Cleaning up the universities sounds like something attainable top down, but it shouldn't take academic research to discover that top down is the least effective method of reform. Universities did not and do not deteriorate from the top. They deteriorated by trying to educate everyone, and everyone is not equally endowed with a mind capable of academic work.

The result of the explosion in enrolment far exceeded the number of academically qualified professors, resulting in an explosion of teaching positions, filled with inadequately qualified professors, teaching inadequately intelligent students, creating a huge demand for coursework which the new teachers and new students could possibly master without obviating in inevitable explosion of worthless degrees.

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Thinking Republicans are going to do anything other than lower taxes and serve as a blocking coalition is an indication on how little one understands US politics. The bureaucracy will operate as usual, any "reformers" will be marginalized by the McConnell wing (akin to how AOC is marginalized by Pelosi and co), and things will just become normalized to the point where future generations will just see the current state as the way things are. The most adamant fighters of all this will be weeded out overtime as this is currently happening with purges, and the left who has access to all information gathering and recording points will simply rewrite history to a point where this is simply what America is. That is the future despite objections because the time for objections has long past. They don't call it a cultural revolution for nothing. It is effectively a sea change. Masculine republics --> Feminine democracies --> Tyranny. The cycle repeats itself.

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This is one of those "what could go wrong?" proposals. I couldn't escape the cognitive dissonance of two simultaneous reactions: 1) yeah, this is absolutely what needs to happen, and 2) the Republicans are absolutely not the party to do it.

They may try. They will fuck it up.

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The proposal I'm most skeptical of is getting CRT/Gender theory out of general education courses. That would essentially result in bureaucracy gaining more power over academics regarding instruction in the academic's field. Protecting viewpoint diversity and neutrality is a legitimate goal for the state; deciding which scholarship in a particular field is valuable or valueless is not.

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Oct 2, 2022·edited Oct 2, 2022

I like your thinking.

I disagree with other commenters that Republicans can’t be trusted. We have to play a long game here, and I believe over time those of us in the “politically homeless” camp can reign in Republicans to shift from pandering to the far right to pandering to us. The only other option is to create our own independent institutions, but that is far more costly in terms of both time and money.

Anyway, I have hope with the existence of groups like FIRE. They have the potential to grow in power and gain influence through lobbying.

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I applaud you, Mr. Yang, for trying to be solution oriented and while I think Mr. Shampling has identified some real challenges, I think most of his suggestions will create more harm than good.

I think in order to come up with a solution, one needs to correctly diagnose the root causes. Below are the problems I see and some suggestions on how fix them. I'd love to hear feedback. Is any of this resonating? What did I get wrong?

How to break academia:

1. Create incredible profits from heavy demand for degrees + government cash and favors.

2. Use cash to fund ever larger administrative class within universities

3. Fill admin class with ideologues who value pursuit of social justice mission over original truth seeking mission of the university

4. Self-reinforcing cycle brings in more ideologues while others leave

5. Lack of accountability: public is slow to notice drift from mission and will tolerate higher and higher prices for lower quality education. Government finances the whole thing.

Making rules or new laws about permissible behavior/speech at universities seems problematic to me for multiple reasons. Even if they are effective in places, they mostly addresses symptoms and not the structural causes.

So, what can be done? Hold them accountable by:

1. Reducing the demand for degrees from these schools who have drifted from their mission

2. Reforming government money and favors that flow to them

This will create incentives for the universities to return to their core mission on their own.

REDUCE DEMAND for degrees from schools whose mission has been compromised:

1. Encourage alternatives to college degrees. The rise of code schools and other alternative credentials is a good sign. Many industries are already doing this on their own. I think tops-down, one-size-fits-all mandates from government, as Mr. Shampling suggests, will be counter productive. Industry can figure this out, provided government gets out of the way and allows for non-degree solutions.

2. Scrutinize the value of the degrees and graduates. Are schools producing graduates with valuable skills or are they creating ideologues? Hiring managers and organizations have a role to play.

3. Create competitors - offer a college experience that is aligned with truth seeking and enlightenment ideals. The University of Austin seems to have great traction and is popular.

REFORM government money and special favors to universities:

1. Reform federal student loan financing. Without federal student loans, which leave some borrowers in debt for decades, universities wouldn't be able to charge so much for tuition. Perhaps make loans dischargeable in bankruptcy and paid by the institutions where the bills were created? That would make the schools have skin in the game and make borrowers' lives better. Cap the amount available as loans? Get the federal government out of student loans all together?

2. Explore reforms to tax exempt status. Universities get billions of dollars in preferential tax treatment thanks to their tax exempt status. Explore changes to property taxes, taxes on endowments and tax-deductible donations.

3. Reform research grant rules. Tax payers are paying for basic research. Why is so much of that money going to people who are hostile to enlightenment ideals in the form of administrative "overhead" (often 50+%)? While we're at it, scrutinize executive branch departments' research budgets. Much of this research is worthless.

With increased scrutiny from the public and lower demand for low-value degrees, combined with reduced special favors and financing from government, I think we have a chance to "unbreak" universities. They will have powerful incentives to return to their core mission.

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I think we need to create alternatives that are not modeled on existing universities. See https://arnoldkling.substack.com/p/white-paper-for-network-based-higher

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I understand your sense of desperation but trusting federal or state GOP legislators to actually improve the situation rather than make it even worse is an extremely unpromising and dangerous strategy. It is, of course, one of the reasons we're in the situation we're in already in. The image of a bull in the china shop comes to mind. To the extent changing laws is needed, the effort is best left to the courts. Legislatures in these polarized and thoughtlessly partisan times are blunt instruments. Ultimately, academia and its stakeholders have to come to their senses, fight the good fight and right the ship themselves. We can cheer them on as best we can but calling in elected politicians will only be cause for regret down the road.

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I worked as a soft money researcher (I had to scrounge up my own money, but was well paid and had freedom) at a Research I university. Good gig. The problem with tenure, as I see it, is that times change. We had one dept with 6 full professors and more tenured faculty. However, their field had crashed and they had no undergrad program and a dozen or so grad students. They sucked up a lot of resources and added pretty much nothing to the university or knowledge. Just give long term contracts... 5, 10, 15 years dependent on how good they are and how strong the dept is.

I do like the idea of cutting into admin. Every year there were 2 or 3 new vice presidencies created. The number of students and faculty never really increased, but admin just kept growing. As someone who was actually bringing in money, I never felt that my overhead was justified. In fact, I often felt that the admin was actively thwarting research and teaching just to look busy/relevant.

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Oct 5, 2022·edited Oct 5, 2022

While university administrations are genuinely afraid of legislative oversight in their home (red) states, it has been easy for them to to run circles around local politicians. The 'progressive' agenda has been reworded into innocuous sounding euphemisms, much of it conducted between the lines and without paper trails; promotions are given to ideological cronies, nonSJWs and not-intersectionally-privileged candidates are never interviewed for jobs (and hence can't be discriminated against) and a lot of the agenda is delegated to student activists as a cover for extremism among university leadership.

It's sneaky, opaque and impossible for the outsider to comprehend, let alone control. Humanities studies were captured 5-10 years ago, there have been no survivors. STEM/Medicine/Law are almost gone. A couple of activist loud mouths among the junior faculty and students is all you need to sway an institution. Conniving administrators angling for the next job are the norm - to move up, you have to demonstrate you've been part of the club all along.

Legislators must make senior leadership personally accountable for ideological balance and DEI abuse. No way around it. There should be audits of classes and admissions policies, whistleblower programs and a total commitment to transparency and merit.

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Legislatures should enact laws preventing DEI administrators from punishing people for committing microaggressions. The response to any microaggression should be limited to a private disclosure informing the alleged aggressor that their statement or behavior might have been considered offensive to someone. That should be the extent of their authority. No bias response teams etc. and no allowing students to post an accusation on social media. Any reporting of a microaggression has to be done in confidence in a polite, constructive and non-accusatory way and it has to assume that the accused was not acting in bad faith. And when assessing the microaggression, the right to speak or act has to be valued over the right to be free from harm which means that in order for the DEI administrators to take real action the harm has to be material. Hurt feelings do not quality as material harm.

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Has anyone considered that the best solution is simply walking away? When Oxford locals wouldn't budge some Dons went off to East Anglia once...

The new UATX institution could be one of many. Once the workplace finds out that graduates from such institutions are more useful as employees the weight of enrollments will inevitably follow. The weight of money will inevitably follow.

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The simplest solution would be to end all government student loan guarantees, and make student debt dischargeable in bankruptcy. Universities which react to the cutoff of funds by deemphasizing research and instruction (more than they have already) will implode.

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