Last fall several high-profile college campuses descended into turmoil. Fighting for what they thought was racial justice, Red Guards and Brown Shirts did their best to prevent anyone from learning anything. They protested against microaggressions, demanded diversity training for everyone and to have their universities join the struggle against white privilege. Political correctness was being imposed on students, by force.
Minority students were struggling to keep up with their course work. Many were obviously mismatched. Thus, they needed to find someone to blame and they lit upon white people, students, faculty and administration.
The larger picture, as I pointed out at the time, was simply that the Obama presidency, the most diverse presidency in American history, was clearly a failure. Now the task was to find someone to blame.
On several campuses administrators rushed out to make concessions to the rebellious and righteous students. They fell over themselves to accommodate the absurd demands. Faculty members mostly remained silent. They understood that standing up to the mob might well cost them their jobs.
It look as though no one was left to stand athwart history, as William Buckley wrote, to say: Stop!
As many of us noted at the time the only real and effective counterforce to this madness had to be: alumni. If there is no cost for such administrative cowardice, the demonstrators will simply get what they are demanding. As long as alumni fund these places and as long as they want their children to matriculate, the domestic terrorists will have won. I do not use the term lightly: leftist student activists are not interested in debate and deliberation. They want to get their way and if they do not get their way they will threaten and intimidate, even make education impossible.
As of now, there has been very little alumni and parental blowback. Too much of the country has learned that it is best not to utter the least discouraging word about what is going on in America’s universities and what is happening to America’s children.
Except for the University of Missouri. You recall the damage done to that university last Fall by out-of-control demonstrators. You recall that they forced the resignation of the president and chancellor of the university and that they turned an institution of higher learning into an indoctrination center. You recall that the football team declared that it would go on strike. You also recall now-former professor Melissa Click calling for more “muscle.”
You are less aware of the backlash, from parents and alumni. It is less dramatic and has not been reported very widely at all. Now, Jillian Kay Melchior has collected the evidence and I am happy to pass it on. We are heartened by the large number of people who stood up to the politically correct bullies. We are heartened to see that Melissa Click was fired, that freshman enrollment has plummeted, as have alumni contributions.
The 7,400 pages of emails, reviewed exclusively by these two publications, reveal how Mizzou overwhelmingly lost the support of longtime sports fans, donors, and alumni. Parents and grandparents wrote in from around the country declaring that their family members wouldn’t be attending Mizzou after the highly publicized controversy. Some current students talked about leaving.
This passionate backlash doesn’t appear to have been a bluff. Already, freshman enrollment is down 25%, leaving a $32 million funding gap and forcing the closure of four dorms. The month after the protests, donations to the athletic department were a mere $191,000—down 72% over the same period a year earlier. Overall fundraising also took a big hit.
We get the best sense of the parent and alumni backlash by examining some of the emails received by the administration.
Melchior quotes them at considerable length. For the record, Mr. Butler was a student who went on a hunger strike to insist that his demands be fulfilled. The football team went on strike in support of Mr. Butler:
Nov. 9: A parent writes: “It is only a matter of time before the remainder of Mr. Butler’s demands are implemented with the mob’s threats not so subtly in the background, demands that range from totalitarian to insane. … I have two sons at Mizzou. I will be immediately searching for alternatives for both. I do not trust the education they might receive at such a school.”
Nov. 9: A donor writes “to finalize my 40 year history with the Athletic Department of the University of Missouri.” He adds: “For the last 10 years, I have attended between 60-85 athletic events per year… always bought a ticket, program (if available), two hot dogs and a small diet coke. … Now, I have a hole in my heart that you could can drive a truck through. … I pledge from this day forward NOT TO contribute to the [Tiger Scholarship Fund], buy any tickets to a University of Missouri athletic event, to attend any athletic event (even if free), to give away all my MU clothes (nearly my entire wardrobe) after I have removed any logos associated with the University of Missouri, and any cards/helmets/ice buckets/flags with the University of Missouri Logo on it.”
It was not merely alumni and parents:
Nov. 10: A senior internal recruiter for TEKsystems, an information-technology company that hires hundreds of new college graduates a year, writes to the director for student-athlete development: “With everything that is going on at the school, I regret to inform you that we are unable to attend the career fair today.”
Other alumni also wrote to say that they will cease contributing to the university:
Nov. 10: A 2015 graduate of the UM law school writes: “I am ashamed to say that I graduated from the University of Missouri. I will be revoking the pledge I made upon graduation, and I will not be making any future monetary donations. I know I am not the only alum who feels this way.”
One parent was seriously upset by the racialism that had infected the campus:
Nov. 11: A parent paying full tuition for his sophomore son writes: “Free speech is under assault on campus by immature, spoiled, thin skinned punks. … I am seriously considering removing my son after this semester. I will never allow him to take politically correct ‘racial sensitivity training’ if required.”
Others were severely offended at having a guilt trip laid on them:
Nov. 11: An MU fan writes asking for a refund for his ticket purchase: “Two good men lost their jobs, extremists are running around the campus, and now I have a label of white privilege. Nothing screams white privilege like sitting in donor seats and parking in donor lots.”
And the backlash continued:
Nov. 13: Member of the Missouri 100, an advisory group supporting Mizzou, writes: “From the alumni I talk to there appears to be a backlash building that is not good for future support of the university. One classmate told me that he changed his trust yesterday to delete a gift to MU, others just do not understand the football players ‘striking.’ A couple have said it was time to take a play form the Ronald Reagan playbook on how the air traffic controllers were handled.”
The vice chancellor for advancement responds: “We have a lot of these messages of pulling support.”
Nov. 16: Grandmother writes that she will “pull every dime” from her granddaughter’s tuition trust “before I allow her to set foot on your campus.” She continues: “What is occurring there is a national and academic disgrace and embarrassment! Absolutely disgusting!”