But the reality is that while college administrators might affix ‘down with the man’ stickers on their office doors – many prop up a system that is severely unfair to American students and professors – a shocking number of whom struggle to make ends meet. Even the most elementary level of political science instructs that politics is about power. Power in America is about money: who has it? Who does not have it? Who is accumulating it? Who is losing it? Where is it going?
Four hundred faculty members at New York University – one of the nation’s most expensive schools – recently released a report on how their own place of employment – legally a nonprofit institution – has become a predatory business – hardly any different in ethical practice or economic procedure than a sleazy storefront payday loan operator. Its title succinctly summarizes the new intellectual discipline deans and regents have learned to master: ‘The Art of The Gouge.’
The result of their investigation reads as if Charles Dickens and Franz Kafka collaborated on notes for a novel. Administrators not only continue to raise tuition at staggering rates but they burden their students with inexplicable fees – high cost burdens and expensive requirements like mandatory study abroad programs. When students question the basis of their charges – much of them hidden during the enrollment and registration phases – they find themselves lost in a tornadic swirl of forms – automated answering services and other bureaucratic debris.
Higher education wears the cloak of liberalism but in policy and practice it can be a corrupt and cutthroat system of power and exploitation. It benefits immensely from right-wing McCarthy wannabes – who in an effort to restrict academic freedom and silence political dissent – depict universities as left-wing indoctrination centers.