College Aid: Next time you hear about students attacking a conservative speaker, check the school's tuition costs. Odds are you'll find that they are attending an elite college that caters to the rich. Money can't buy love, but it can, apparently, teach intolerance.
In early March, distinguished author and social scientist Charles Murray was scheduled to talk at Middlebury College, a Vermont school that charges $64,000 a year in tuition. Several students erupted in noisy demonstrations that ended up with the 74-year-old Murray being shoved and Middlebury political science professor Allison Singer in a neck brace.
The attack was so vicious and unwarranted that even some liberals — who normally ignore such outbursts when they target conservatives — were shocked.
They should hardly have been surprised. Elite schools that cater mainly to the children of wealthy parents have become havens for militant, narrow-minded and often-violent bigots.
Researchers at the liberal-leaning Brookings Institution looked at 90 attempts by college students to disinvite speakers — who tend mostly to be conservative — since 2014.
What they found was that these attempts to squelch free speech came almost exclusively from schools that catered to rich kids.
"The average enrollee at a college where students have attempted to restrict free speech," they found, "comes from a family with an annual income of $32,000 higher than that of the average student in America."
The authors note that when Murray spoke at St. Louis University — where the median income of the parents is half that of Middlebury — students didn't attack him or even try to shout him down.
This isn't just about disinviting speakers.
Earlier this year, for example, a Hampshire College student physically attacked a visiting girls' basketball team because the white players had their hair in braids, which the Hampshire student considered "cultural appropriation."
Hampshire College costs $63,000 a year to attend. The girls who were attacked came from Central Maine Community College, which charges about $1,400 a year.
What's worse is that these elite schools often encourage ignorance and bigotry. This week, in fact, professors at Wellesley College — $66,000 a year to attend — sent a memo to faculty arguing that the school shouldn't invite speakers who they believe would "bully the relatively disempowered."
The example the professors cited to justify their memo: Laura Kipnis, a Northwestern University professor and self-described feminist, who committed the sin of criticizing Title IX and the "culture of sexual paranoia" on college campuses, topics apparently too difficult for Wellesley students to ponder.
When asked about this memo by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, Kipnis responded that "protecting students from the 'distress' of someone's ideas isn't education, it's a $67,000 baby-sitting bill."
Normally, we wouldn't care about rich people flushing their own money down the drain to protect their delicate flowers from diverse viewpoints. But the fact is that a lot of taxpayer money — earned by hardworking families — is helping to pay these baby-sitting bills.
In fact, more than two thirds of students who attend private nonprofit four-year colleges get some form of federal aid, as do almost half of those students whose parents make more than $100,000, according to the Department of Education.
Clearly it's time to rethink how this federal college aid money is being allocated.