Peter Berkowitz Opinion: Campus Dysfunction Easy To Recognize, Difficult To Cure – Florida Daily

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Machiavelli observed in “.PrincePolitics sometimes shows the challenges that doctors face: “…in the beginning of the disease, it is easy to cure and difficult to identify, but over time, when the disease is not recognized and treated at the beginning.” It will be easier to identify and harder to cure.” So it is for higher education in America: At this late stage, the problem with our universities—and the damage it has done to the country—is easy to recognize, but the damage has been difficult to treat.

of Hamas The jihadists’ Oct. 7 massacre in southern Israel may have sparked a watershed for higher education in America. The solidarity of students and faculty against mass murderers, the initial confusion and missteps of university administrators, and the explosion of anti-Semitism on campus forced many who turned a blind eye to the divisions and misunderstandings of our universities. But as most university administrators, professors, wealthy donors, left-of-center analysts, and politicians of both parties prolong the damage without holding higher education institutions accountable or warning the public, only dramatic and costly interventions offer hope. Fixing the pathological clusters that plague American universities this time around.

The evidence that it is now permissible to talk about the terrible state of our universities in polite society comes from New York Times Comment page. Since October 7, The Times has published several pieces that say our universities have gone terribly wrong and are taking steps to fix them.

These comments are welcome, but decades overdue. They fail to identify the main problem. They ignore major obstacles to reform. They suggest a Band-Aid-like fix for bruised wounds and broken limbs. And they see the complicity of the mainstream media in ignoring, minimizing, or dismissing repeated warnings from a quarter-century ago — mostly, but not exclusively, from conservatives — that our universities are attacking free speech, undermining the public interest, eliminating due process, and politicizing and politicizing the curriculum.

In “The Moral Defects of Liberal Education,” October 16. Ezekiel Emmanuel He declared that we had failed. Vice Provost for International Initiatives and Professor of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at University of PennsylvaniaEmanuel sees the defeat as both personal and professional: Our universities have been turned into boot camps for teaching progressive ideas about social justice and disdain for other viewpoints that continue under his watch.

Emanuel said that students who blamed Israel for the massacres by Hamas and praised terrorists “showed their moral ignorance and lack of education.” But the deeper problem is not them. It’s what they’re learning – or more specifically, what they’re not learning. Universities “could not give them the moral foundation and moral compass to know the basics of humanity.”

A bioethicist, Emanuel calls for a two-course ethics requirement and, more generally, the restoration of a curriculum built around required courses (he doesn’t say which ones). He added that professors need to stop practicing isolation, which consists of refraining from challenging a student’s opinion for fear of angering or offending the student. Its aim is to “rebuild primary education by developing critical thinking skills and moral and logical reasoning so that students emerge as engaged citizens.”

Emanuel’s steps are in the right direction, but they are insufficient for the challenge because they recognize how true liberal education itself provides and refines the mind and provides an ethical foundation and moral compass. The center of a liberal education in America must include the study of the principles of liberty—moral, economic, and political—on which the nation was founded and institutionalized and maintained, and the intellectual and moral character of the constitution. Those principles and virtues have a history and should be studied where they are part of the wider Western civilization. Because Western civilization revolves around the tension between individualism and our common humanity, a liberal education includes the study of other civilizations.

On November 8, “How are students expected to live like this on campuses?” Member of the New York Times Editorial Board Jesse Wegman He noted that the numerous incidents of “offensive speech directed mostly at Israel, Jews and Jewish students by the students and teachers” raised pressing questions about freedom of speech. Wegman asked, “How should a university respond when the university expresses a sentiment that conflicts with the values ​​the school is trying to inculcate without increasing human decency?” he asked. As long as his answer was good. “Speech should be allowed tentatively, as a fundamental principle of free inquiry and academic debate,” he asserted.

But are university administrators and faculty prepared to ensure freedom of speech? Are they competent to draw the necessary lines? Are you ready to face the crowd? Wegman answered these questions.

Universities have admitted to eroding free speech on campus by setting campus speech codes and endorsing campus orthodoxies on controversial political questions. His main recommendation is mandatory free speech training for first-year students to build a “basic culture of respect and listening.” But who teaches the teachers?

By undermining the respect for others and the art of listening by leading—or by silently acquiescing—to diminishing dissent for over a generation, the current crop of administrators and professors seem to have failed to apply training in fashion and free speech. Furthermore, free speech is taught not through didactic lectures and seminars, but through the practice of considering competing ideas in a manner that can challenge one’s assumptions and arguments. But where are the professors who can lead such conversations? Which faculty members understand the other side and can understand their argument?

In the year Nov. 16, “Universities are inclusivity,” Times columnist David Brooks also took a scathing, post-Oct. Travel Point 7 Facts: “Jewish students on American campuses are confronted by people celebrating the mass murder and rape of Jews.” Brooks blames higher education for denying its mission. “Universities should be centers of inquiry and curiosity—places where people tolerate diversity and learn about other perspectives,” he wrote. Instead, many have become zones of brutal ideological warfare.

“How on earth did this happen?” “He’s been teaching on college campuses for 25 years,” Brooks asked. He faulted “the rigid ideological framework that is being disseminated in high school and college, through social media, diversity training seminars, and popular culture.” Although they say the framework has no name, it does show a postmodern progressiveness. He holds that group identity is more important than shared humanity; The basic social and political difference is between the oppressors and the oppressed; A person in one group cannot understand a person in another; Racism and bigotry are rampant in America; The principles of freedom – freedom of speech, due process, meritocracy – are tools of oppression. And affirming these dogmas of postmodern progressivism precedes the acquisition of knowledge and the development of intellectual independence and integrity.

Brooks argues that campus diversity, equity, and inclusion bureaucracies that divide people along racial and ethnic lines, prioritize group memberships, and express differences of opinion cannot be undermined. Instead, he advocated a genuine diversity education based on the remarkable discoveries of American pluralism. To help students understand that they “live in one of the most diverse societies in history” and prepare to engage with other backgrounds and alternative perspectives, courses should “explore diversity, identity, and history from a pluralistic framework” and “classify. Various books on social and moral skills to see people differently.

Brooks is rightly wedded to the study of diversity in America and ways to preserve and enrich it, but he makes the same mistake as Emanuel and Wegman. All three specialties—on ethical thinking, free speech, and diversity—are the antidote to the ills of our universities.

A liberal education itself is the best way to cultivate tolerance and decency, virtues that are lacking at the forefront but are essential to freedom and democracy. Sciences and social sciences should not be neglected. But a rigorous study of literature, history, and philosophy—at once inquisitive and rigorous, patient and inquisitive, and determined to understand before criticizing or exaggerating—provides an unrivaled lesson in the complexity and continuity of moral and political, competing concepts of the good. Life, and fundamental rights and fundamental freedoms inseparable from human dignity.

That campus crisis is now easy to recognize, but difficult to heal, does not negate our obligation to do what we can to repair America’s colleges and universities by providing students with the liberal education they need and deserve.

Peter Berkowitz is the Thad and Diane Taube Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. From 2019 to 2021, he served as Director of the Policy Planning Staff at the US State Department. His articles are posted on and can be followed on Twitter @BerkowitzPeter. This article was originally published by RealClearPolitics and via RealClearWire.

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