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TCF’s Outrageously Dumb Campus Moments of the Week (Jan. 27th)

The College Fix presents a roundup of the top scandals, screw-ups, and stupid decisions involving college campuses. This week, the occupation of common sense continues…

3). Students aligned with the Occupy Wall Street movement at the University of California, Davis, took a long-overdue evolutionary step on Tuesday, setting up camp inside an actual building. These sell-outs are living life like the 1%, with heat and good lighting and everything. The building is currently unused by the university, and administrators don’t see a reason to kick the kids out just yet. According to one of the occupiers:

“The building will take the place of a tent encampment as the center of operations for the campus Occupy movement, said student Artem Rafkin.

“We are going to be permanently occupying it,” Rafkin said.

The group’s goals include reorganizing the police force, firing the university’s chancellor, and making tuition free for everybody. Serious demands for serious minds, no doubt.

2). In arguably related news, a survey of business leaders found that college graduates don’t make for very impressive workers–the second such survey in recent months to reach this depressing conclusion. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, some businessmen faulted universities for failing to impart students with practical skills. So perhaps the occupiers demanding free tuition are on to something after all: Why pay for a college education when many employers think you’re wasting your time anyway? Then again, if OWS students spent more time in class and less time whining, maybe employers would think better of them. In any case, the “dumb moment” here is deciding to spend thousands and thousands of dollars on a college education, not learning anything useful, demanding the money back, and failing to get a job. All in all, quite dumb.

1). The previous two “dumb moments” were admittedly harsh to students, so here’s one where I can take their side. The state of Illinois is spending 12% more on higher education funding this year, but students won’t see a dime of it. According to The Huffington Post, the money will go directly into the pensions of public university employees. Though the universities are getting half a billion dollars more this year, less of it will go to classrooms. Tuition, of course, will continue to climb dramatically.

Students don’t deserve free tuition, but they don’t deserve unaffordable tuition, either. The point of public universities is not to fund every science project imaginable, or build the most futuristic libraries, or employ any and every person unfit for the private sector. The point of public education is to educate young people. But for some reason, making sure higher education is actually available to the very people for whom it is intended is the lowest possible priority for most college presidents, boards of regents, and legislators.

Even President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are sick of it. In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, Obama threatened federal funding cuts for universities if they don’t keep tuition costs down. And last week, Biden blamed high employee salaries at universities for being a contributing factor to high tuition–condemning, in a sense, the very sort of thing Illinois is doing by putting the needs of university employees (including non-teaching administrators and bureaucrats) before students.

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