How can we stop the long march of political correctness on college campuses? How can we put an end to the nonsense about trigger warnings and microaggressions? How can we shut down the policing of thought and speech that now infects so many college campuses? ? How can we overcome the absurdity of college students being told that if they will be downgraded if they use correct English grammar?
What can be done about colleges who spend their time worrying about whether men can use women’s locker rooms? What can be done about college teachers who have no compunction about indoctrinating their students in the ideology of oppression and white privilege? And what can be done about the advent of administrative proceedings—instigated by the Obama administration—to deprive those accused of sexual assault of due process of law?
Recently, a group of radicals at Oriel College in Oxford University decided that a statue of Cecil Rhodes, a man whose money had funded the college, had to be taken down. The movement was called Rhodes Must Fall. You see, Rhodes was a racist, and therefore his statuesque presence was preventing black students from realizing their full potential.
Well, the college just decided to reject the demands of the disaffected students, a decision that ought to shame a certain number of American college presidents, beginning with Peter Salovey at Yale. You recall that Salovey could do no better than to cave in to radical student demands.
By way of contrast, the chancellor of Oxford University, Lord Chris Patten told the protesters that if they did not like the statue they should go get their educations elsewhere.
Why did those who run Oriel College at Oxford decide to keep the statue? Why did they decide to cease their consultations with the Rhodes Must Fall group?
The answer is: college alumni began to withdraw their financial donations. The college depends on these donations to balance its books. How about that? With money goes power. For all the spirited debate that takes place in the marketplace of ideas, what really matters in venerable Oxford University is alumni donations. Call it the power of the purse.
Many years ago Irving Kristol suggested that the people who have the power to tamp down on political correctness and other forms of leftist radicalism are the alumni who shower these places with money. And, let’s not forget the state legislatures who fund many of the state run institutions.
Since an alumni donation is freely given, it can be freely withdrawn. It’s very easy to change one’s will to write out one’s favorite college.
You might call it a return to rationality, but you might better follow Glenn Reynolds and say that it’s a return to “adult supervision.”
In any event, the Daily Telegraph reported on the price Oriel College paid for even considering removing the Rhodes statue:
The governing body of Oriel College, which owns the statue, has ruled out its removal after being warned that £1.5m worth of donations have already been cancelled, and that it faces dire financial consequences if it bows to the Rhodes Must Fall student campaign.
A leaked copy of a report prepared for the governors and seen by this newspaper discloses that wealthy alumni angered by the “shame and embarrassment” brought on the 690-year-old college by its own actions have now written it out of their wills.
The college now fears a proposed £100m gift - to be left in the will of one donor - is now in jeopardy following the row.
The donors were astonished by a proposal to remove a plaque marking where Rhodes lived, and to launch a six-month consultation over whether the statue of the college’s biggest benefactor should be taken down.
But Oriel College confirmed in a statement to the Telegraph: “Following careful consideration, the College’s governing body has decided that the statue should remain in place.”
At a meeting on Wednesday the governing body was told that because of its ambiguous position on the removal of the statue, “at least one major donation of £500,000” that was expected this year has been cancelled.
In addition, a “potential £750,000 donor” has stopped responding to messages from the college, and several alumni have written to Oriel to say “they are disinheriting the college from their wills”.
One of those who has already cancelled their legacy was going to leave a “seven figure sum” and the college is aware that “another major donor is furious with the College… whose legacy could be in excess of £100m”.
The report warns that there will now "almost certainly" be "one or two redundancies" in its Development Office team because of the collapse in donations. And it has cancelled an annual fundraising drive that should have taken place in April. The report also warns that Oriel's development office could now make an operating loss of around £200,000 this year.
So, if you want to assign blame for the lunacy that is currently infecting so many of America’s best college campuses, don’t forget to point a finger at the alumni whose generous donations are funding it. The power lies with the purse.