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Conservative in College

Many pundits wonder aloud about the value of a college education that often looks more like indoctrination. One that comes at an exceptionally high price. This perception is reinforced by studies like a recent one from College Pulse. In an online survey of Republican college students, 73% reported they had hidden their political views out of fear it would negatively impact their grades.

Charlie Copeland, President of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, (ISI) understands these type of trends very well. His organization is centered around teaching the principles of individual liberty, limited government, and personal responsibility. ISI was founded by William F. Buckley Jr. in 1953. The goal of the organization is to fill the gaping hole in higher education driven by an increasingly progressive influence.

I asked Charlie how the higher education environment would embrace Gen Z. Especially since they appear to be leaning more to the right. He predicts there will be blowback against what he refers to as the “diversity bureaucracy” on campus. This collection of administrators and professors will find it increasingly difficult to enforce their written and unwritten rules.

He gave the example of University of Missouri Adjunct Professor Melissa Click who famously called for some “muscle” to remove a cameraman from a student protest. The video of this exchange went viral as did the coverage of protests on campus. The following year, the school saw a 25% drop in enrollment.

This coincides with an overall drop in enrollment at the collegiate level. As of 2018, undergraduate enrollment had dropped for the sixth straight year in a row. It is expected to continue as the number of high school graduates declines due to lower birth rates. Copeland believes this will cause smaller private schools without a clear or compelling mission to close. He asserts schools like Oklahoma Wesleyan, with a niche offering that includes an education focused on critical thinking with a religious foundation, will continue to thrive in this environment.

He does believe the environment on campuses will change as the financial pressures of lower enrollments increase the competition among colleges. However, Copeland says the changes will be slow:

The diversity bureaucracy that strives to control speech or compel behavior on campus is not going away any time soon.

According to the Copeland, a fundamental characteristic of the bureaucracy is the New Left. Their ideology equates speech with violence. In other words, hurt feelings are no different than getting punched in the nose. This causes campuses to limit speech and behavior. It also emboldens student activists. This has resulted in the doxing of right-leaning students on campus and other ways of outing students as being conservative.

There are resources for students who want to pursue a college degree and worry about receiving a well-rounded education. ISI maintains a network of over 3,000 conservative and libertarian professors on 37% of campuses nationwide. Copeland says a student must be invested in doing the research and utilizing the network to find the classes that will challenge them and encourage robust, open discussion. The good news is they do exist. Information for students and parents evaluating schools can be found by joining the student community.

ISI also provides its own ongoing programs and education. Alumni of the programs include Justice Neil Gorsuch and entrepreneur Peter Theil. The organization’s 14th Annual Gala for Western Civilization is taking place on September 19, 2019, to honor Sir Roger Scruton in Philadelphia.

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