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College Mob Rule: The Nuclear Option

Campus protests over the past couple of years have escalated in scale and seriousness, with appalling acts of violence and intimidation against visiting conservative lecturers. In Washington State, Evergreen State College has mounted its Day Without White People, with threats and intimidation directed against those who refused to absent themselves. In the New York Times, even the very liberal Frank Bruni now demands that “These Campus Inquisitions Must Stop [1].” Critics of such actions denounce the climate of intolerance, but university authorities effectively do nothing, rarely even imposing mild disciplinary procedures. The implication is that there really is nothing worthwhile that universities can do, even if they chose to act. The public, it seems, should keep their racist, sexist, transphobic, mouths shut, while continuing to write the tuition checks. 

If only there were some way to restore sanity and decency on campus! Actually, there are multiple opportunities to do so. Most obviously, public universities (like Evergreen State) depend on state legislatures for most or all of their funding, and could be hit hard by concerted action by elected officials.

Now, that recourse would not be available for private schools, like Yale or Middlebury College. Does that make them immune from external pressure or sanction? Well, actually no.

Unknown to most non-academics, there is in fact a deterrent of nuclear proportions that can be invoked in circumstances of extreme and egregious misbehavior. So fearsome is this weapon that, if deployed, it would assuredly induce academic authorities to clean up their act. If you are not an academic administrator, you know next to nothing about accreditation. If however you are, even invoking that unspeakable thirteen letter word causes grown adults to blanch. American universities rely on public ignorance of that fact.

So what is this nightmare beast, accreditation? All academic institutions, public and private, are accredited by various private agencies, which vouch for the quality and effectiveness of schools and their programs. Accreditation can be granted to a whole institution, or to specific programs that it offers. Dozens of such agencies exist, and they differ greatly in how far they acknowledge each other’s authority. There is, though, a core of six regional bodies that really matter. These include the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). The NWCCU, for instance, accredits 159 universities and colleges, including Evergreen State; Middlebury is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).

Each of these agencies promulgates elaborate and quite draconian policies, covering minutiae of administrative policies, faculty qualifications, student support services, and student life. The language is expansive and designed to be legally enforceable. Institutions are reviewed regularly for compliance, and unadvertised visits and spot checks are a real possibility. Any institution or program found in violation of any part of these requirements is in deep trouble. Accreditation can be suspended, or schools can be reduced to probationary status during investigations, which are extremely long, expensive and time consuming. Literally, they can tie up a school and all its bureaucrats for years at a time. The ultimate nightmare is that a college can entirely lose its accredited status.

Why does this matter? Because if a school loses its accreditation, its degrees and qualifications no longer count for anything. It can no longer issue “degrees” that qualify for employment. Credits acquired from that school cannot be transferred. If we imagine the unthinkable—that Yale University lost its accreditation—then its degrees would count as much or as little as a diploma from the John Doe Academy of Astrology and Other Advanced Sciences. If an elite liberal arts college lost its accreditation, then its graduates would have spent a quarter million dollars (plus) for literally nothing. The college would be moribund, unless and until it regained accreditation.

No administrator would even risk such an appalling prospect. They would do anything to clean up their collective act, and to be seen to be doing so.

Now, as with most legal documents, accreditation standards do not literally and precisely address every eventuality that might arise. They do not, for instance, say that colleges shall prevent the mobbing and silencing of speakers, or shall prohibit flagrantly racist stunts by self-described social justice activists. Rather, they set out general standards, commonly framed in terms of safety, health and well-being, and academic freedom. The Southern Association of College and Schools demands that “the institution takes reasonable steps to provide a healthy, safe, and secure environment for all members of the campus community.” The NEASC (New England) specifies that, “The institution protects and fosters academic freedom for all faculty regardless of rank or term of appointment.” A member institution must “provide a safe environment that fosters the intellectual and personal development of its students.” All the accrediting bodies use similar boilerplate language about health, safety, institutional environment, and academic freedom.

But that general language can be applied expansively. To use an analogy, the vast Title IX apparatus that has emerged on college campuses is founded upon a very short and general legal text concerning sexual discrimination. Why should not the language of accreditation standards be treated similarly?

There is no conceivable way in which the recent campus horror stories can be reconciled with those lofty standards. In what sense can a campus be described as “safe” if the sober and respectful expression of mildly dissenting views invites physical assault? Can such behavior be reconciled with any concept of academic freedom? If colleges cannot be accused of directly fomenting or carrying out such acts, they assuredly can be blamed for failing to discipline perpetrators. They can likewise be faulted for not employing and training police forces to defend the liberties of individual students and faculty—in short, to create an appropriate institutional environment. If schools permit mob rule, they can and must be sanctioned, and the accreditation agencies are the critical protagonists in any such process.

If those agencies will not exercise that function, then we really need to know why that is. Appropriate pressure needs to be placed on them, whether from the U.S. administration, from legislators, or the general public. Make them do their job. Evergreen State would be a wonderful place to start.

Do we want to restore civility on US campuses? Then explore the potential of accreditation. Let’s start the debate.

Philip Jenkins teaches at Baylor University. He is the author of Crucible of Faith: The Ancient Revolution That Made Our Modern Religious World [2] (forthcoming Fall 2017).

40 Comments (Open | Close)

40 Comments To "College Mob Rule: The Nuclear Option"

#1 Comment By Major Wootton On June 13, 2017 @ 11:45 pm

Aren’t the teams that visit universities to check up on accreditation made up of people from other universities?

Do you think an accreditor from Evergreen is going to jump on Middlebury?

#2 Comment By Elim On June 14, 2017 @ 12:55 am

Given its history of protecting athlete rapists by intimidating their victims, Baylor would be an excellent candidate.

#3 Comment By Paul Deignan On June 14, 2017 @ 1:04 am

Wishing on a star.

Fighting social fights using complaints to accreditation bodies is like complaining to the NOAO about the weather.

At worst, they might try to change it.

#4 Comment By EliteCommInc. On June 14, 2017 @ 6:04 am

I think one would find that the accreditation community already on board with the whatever safe space social resistance is on play on campuses.

#5 Comment By Brett Champion On June 14, 2017 @ 7:32 am

That would probably work on lower-profile schools, but in the end I doubt schools like Yale would suffer much. What would likely happen is that Yale and the rest of the Ivy schools would set up their own accreditation organizations and set their own standards. Would-be college students give accreditation no thought in selecting a school, and the great majority of students couldn’t care less if the schools accredited themselves. And, much more importantly, perspective employers of Yale’s graduates wouldn’t care either so long as Yale still stayed Yale.

Perhaps a better threat is still through the legislature. Private universities might not get funding from state legislatures, but the legislature can set rules that such institutions have to follow if they want to operate in the state. Of course, there’s no way in blue blazes that Connecticut would ever actually shut Yale down. If it did, several other states would immediately grant Yale a license to operate under their jurisdiction. Having a university like Yale is like having an NFL franchise: it’s a status symbol that any government would be loath to give up. So much like an NFL franchise, the power in this situation lies with the university.

#6 Comment By bkh On June 14, 2017 @ 7:58 am

No. Leave accreditation out of it unless you are in some kind of constant state of violence and disruption. It is going to be bad enough for more religious colleges to maintain accreditation as the noose tightens from the hell-bent left in the near future.

#7 Comment By irksome1 On June 14, 2017 @ 8:38 am

What’s the idea? That we would bring public pressure against private accrediting agencies to act in a way that ultimately quells violent protests on campus? How do we do this in a way that does not ultimately transfer the mobs from the campus grounds of the university to the office park of the agency?

#8 Comment By Linen42 On June 14, 2017 @ 8:45 am

Yes, punish a majority of people for the actions of a vocal minority that you disagree with.

Potentially ruin the finances of hundreds or thousands of people who have spent money for an education, who may have already graduated, or who worked very hard to get into a university because of something you saw on the news.

This is such a terrible idea, but because it is revenge against liberals it will get published in TAC.

#9 Comment By polistra On June 14, 2017 @ 9:08 am

Not likely. Accred agencies have been at the vanguard of “progressive” nonsense. The few universities that lost accreditation in recent decades were tiny obscure colleges that were basically bankrupt. They would have closed anyway.

#10 Comment By DocBroom On June 14, 2017 @ 9:24 am

Oh MY! Professor Jenkins, you certainly have brandished that weapon magnificently! Hear, hear! The use of accreditation standards concerning intellectual development and academic freedom to restore sanity on campuses that are occupied by the regressive left’s shock troops is stunning in its simplicity. The only fly in the ointment would be that the accreditation teams themselves would have to become very brave as they would face the SJW hordes on their own campuses as soon as word leaked out of what they were doing. But I’ve got to hand it to you, perhaps even the discussion of this will have a salutary effect.

#11 Comment By fenster On June 14, 2017 @ 10:05 am

I agree with Jenkins that loss of accreditation is nuclear, that colleges are highly attentive to periodic accreditation review in consequence, and that the process is not well understood. I don’t agree with his description of the process in heavy duty compliance terms.

He writes:

“Each of these agencies promulgates elaborate and quite draconian policies, covering minutiae of administrative policies, faculty qualifications, student support services, and student life. The language is expansive and designed to be legally enforceable. Institutions are reviewed regularly for compliance, and unadvertised visits and spot checks are a real possibility.”

I’ve been on both sides of the table and that just doesn’t comport with my experience. Standards are loosely drafted, colleges have a lot of room to describe how they are being met, colleges are most often left alone between visits, accreditors tend to return to follow up on issues only when problems have been noted in a report, and they don’t roam the landscape like building inspectors looking for violations of detailed rules. Most importantly,colleges very seldom lose the important regional accreditation. Here’s a list of 18 from 2000 . . . has anyone even heard of these places?

[3]

That’s not to say the agencies are toothless They can and do use the process to prod in desired directions. As one might expect, however, when they do such things it tends to be in support of higher education’s generally shared values, especially on issues related to the creedal issues of diversity.

And this brings up the core issue here: the agencies may have their own staff, separate from colleges, but they are in essence “owned by” their constituent members. Accreditation teams are composed of faculty and staff from other universities, not agency staff, and their reports drive the process. And so one should not be surprised if in the end agency values are basically identical to the institutions they purport to regulate.

I do agree that accreditation has potential to be used to promote issues like free speech. After all if agencies can find Native American mascots in the emanations and penumbras of higher education values surely they could take a hard look at issues like free speech, which not only partake of constitutional issues in public institutions but are often kissing cousins to broader questions of free inquiry that ought to be central to accreditation concerns in all institutions, both public and private.

So I don’t disagree with the gist of Jenkins’ article. But I think he misdescribes how the process works. And I’d also point out that the agencies will never voluntarily adopt values at odds with the institutions that make them up. That would take a large federal hammer.

#12 Comment By Liam On June 14, 2017 @ 10:12 am

They function analogously to insurance companies, though the latter have the misfortune to largely be public limited liability entities (they worked much better when they were private general partnerships).

One way to imagine a shifting of many (not all) government regulations is to require enterprises to have certain kinds of insurance issued by insurers that are organized as a general partnerships (and reinsured by reinsurers that are organized as general partnerships). Imagine how risk might be reconsidered in such a context….

#13 Comment By Hypnos On June 14, 2017 @ 10:38 am

Another avenue that would hit the pocketbooks of private universities would be to shame big-money donors. Call out the people who have their names on buildings.

#14 Comment By Bob Jones On June 14, 2017 @ 11:26 am

Let me get this straight. The magazine that spent most of the past whining about how funding and accreditation could be used to force religious schools to conform to LGBT policies, now advocates using funding and accreditation to stifle speech on campus it doesn’t like?

So you would be OK with Baylor being threatened to lose its accreditation if it does’t allow gay couples to live together on campus?

You are asking for a precedent to be set that would effectively be the end of religious colleges. Do you really lack the capacity to use rational thought, or are you just so naive that you think tomorrow will never come, and when it does it will be the way you want it to be?

#15 Comment By Fran Macadam On June 14, 2017 @ 11:54 am

There has to be the political will to do something, and the ideology is all on the other side, so there is no possibility any status quo elite institution will lose any accreditation whatsoever. That punishment is to impose upon the religious colleges who are of a minority academic ideology.

#16 Comment By Dennis On June 14, 2017 @ 12:04 pm

But the whole accreditation process is in itself problematic. Private agencies arrogating to themselves the right to determine what is and isn’t a legitimate school and whose degrees are “worthless” or not.

Also, accreditation threats have been used in the past as a tool to bully religious or other schools that don’t toe the left the party line on political correctness, diversity, LGBT, and other left-wing shibboleths. Accreditation itself needs to simply be abolished, and let the market determine whose degrees are worthless and whose aren’t.

#17 Comment By G Harvey On June 14, 2017 @ 12:17 pm

That would be a good idea, if the people responsible for accreditation weren’t themselves almost all decidedly left of center.

#18 Comment By Dale Matson On June 14, 2017 @ 12:20 pm

I was a program director at my university and I was a member of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing and evaluated programs. Questions I would ask are, “How robust are the courses as evidenced by the Syllabi?” Are there specified outcomes? Are the students expected to attend classes? How is their performance evaluated? Additionally, universities need to develop a culture of evidence. Are follow up questionnaires sent to graduates? Employers and graduates should be interviewed. Are graduates properly prepared for jobs?

#19 Comment By Alexander On June 14, 2017 @ 12:48 pm

While I would agree that something must be done to combat violent reactions to speech on campuses, I worry wielding accreditation as a weapon will backfire. If a university’s accreditation is threatened when there are violent protests on campus and there are violent protests when controversial speakers are invited to speak, why invite controversial speakers? I worry that threatening accreditation in this way will only further stifle free speech on campuses, because there will be further disincentive to engage in intellectually challenging discussion.

Additionally, once the threat of accreditation revocation has been used to quell free speech dissent on campuses, which has recently turned violent, and bolster freedom of speech protections, what is to stop the left from invoking the same threat against private religious schools and universities who don’t provide what they would call a safe environment for LGBTQ students? As you said, the language requiring member institutions to “provide a safe environment that fosters the intellectual and personal development of its students,” can be interpreted quite broadly.

#20 Comment By Jason On June 14, 2017 @ 1:07 pm

While I agree that some means must be employed to reduce the amount of campus uproar and to discipline those who engage in it, I as a conservative Christian am not particularly fond of this route since progressives have already suggested it as a means of forcing conservative Christian colleges and universities to comply with gender and sexual ideology. While it is likely that they will continue to make such a push even if more conservative activists refrain from using it against SJW-types, they will certainly push for it if we do.

Further, I would suggest that these accrediting bodies are every bit a part of the larger progressive academic culture and cannot imagine that they have any more inclination to discipline the SJW’s than do college administrators.

#21 Comment By qvole On June 14, 2017 @ 1:48 pm

While it is the case that the accreditation agencies have the power to strip any university, including the Ivies, of its accreditation, it is in fact extremely unlikely that any agency would attempt any action against the elite universities. I would suggest that the legitimacy of the agencies is, at least in part, dependent upon the acceptance of the Ivies and other elite universities of their status.

If NEASC attempted to pull accreditation from Yale or if MSCHE did the same to Princeton, the damage would be to the legitimacy of the agencies. The proof of that, in my opinion, is that the Ivies regularly violate the rules of their accreditation agencies without being punished in any way. One example concerns what the agencies in their vulgar bureaucratized language call contact hours. It refers, more or less, to how many weeks per term and how many hours per week that courses must be taught. I know from my experience as a university professor at several non-Ivies that not abiding by the contact hours rules is cause for being written up in the accreditation evaluation. I also know from my undergraduate years at Princeton and from daughter’s current schedule at Brown that neither of those institution pay any attention to the contact hours rules. Those aren’t the only rules that the Ivies ignore. They don’t pay much attention to agency rules on assessment processes either, which is what now takes up a large percentage of faculty time at a regional institution like the one at which I teach.

I would also argue that expecting accreditation agencies to enforce civility rules at university campuses is a little like putting Lenin in charge of assessing Stalin’s Gulags. The peer assessors sent by agencies are faculty and administrators who generally think that it is a perfectly fine idea to shut down any opinion that doesn’t appear acceptable according to the bien pensant running the universities.

You’re much more likely to get the attention of administrators at elite universities by organizing their alumni to withhold contributions until the university in question starts acting like a university and not a re-education camp.

#22 Comment By KevinS On June 14, 2017 @ 1:56 pm

“Each of these agencies promulgates elaborate and quite draconian policies, covering minutiae of administrative policies, faculty qualifications, student support services, and student life.”

I have participated in several of these accreditations at my university and I have to say that I would not characterize it as you do. To me it seemed largely a charade about as rigorous as those ratings agencies like Moody’s that gave junk bonds their highest rating.

Yale losing its accreditation? Seriously? I hope you have a Plan B.

#23 Comment By Dave skerry On June 14, 2017 @ 4:06 pm

Me thinks Mr. Jenkins was drinking when he wrote this article.

#24 Comment By Lee On June 14, 2017 @ 4:23 pm

Nuclear option? I and many other Alumni have closed our wallets.

#25 Comment By Uzback On June 14, 2017 @ 5:31 pm

Two wrongs don’t make a right.

This isn’t elementary school, this is a university. So please try to think more critically before writing an article.

#26 Comment By Dale Matson On June 14, 2017 @ 7:22 pm

“I and many other Alumni have closed our wallets.” Me too but many universities have endowments so massive that they could close their doors to students and still exist in perpetuity. That would suit many faculty members just fine.

#27 Comment By EliteCommInc. On June 14, 2017 @ 8:20 pm

“This is such a terrible idea, but because it is revenge against liberals it will get published in TAC.”

This is just a tad nonsensical. I would agree that the accreditation agencies are probably alrady on board with what is happening on an incresing number of campuses. And it is not just in lrge schools. All throughout Ca, the press against anything that might actually cause intellectual stretch is on the march. It’s very strange.

But the author’s argument is not about revenge it’s about protecting the right of free speech and in fact, environments safe enough for conflicting ideas to co-exist to be considered and contended.

As clearly delineated, it would not require some kind of mass use of force. In fact, the author makes it plain that such actions to enforce fairness could be limited to very specific circumstances of the academia.

The more difficult problem exists with academic faculty itself. They are the encouraging and supporting a good deal of this. I suspect that the debates going on within faculty meetings is fairly intense. But the power of the APA, and the tentacles of NEA, as well as other unbeknownst networks of “revolutionaries” are going to make challenges of this nature tough.

In spite of the hurdles, and acknowledging the risk to careers, the authors contention makes perfect sense.

The best answer is that instructors would actually have the courage, skills and integrity to set more processes by which rhetorical dialect is engaged without resorting to violence.

#28 Comment By EliteCommInc. On June 14, 2017 @ 8:23 pm

“This is such a terrible idea, but because it is revenge against liberals it will get published in TAC.”

This is just a tad nonsensical. I would agree that the accreditation agencies are probably alrady on board with what is happening on an incresing number of campuses. And it is not just in lrge schools. All throughout Ca, the press against anything that might actually cause intellectual stretch is on the march. It’s very strange.

But the author’s argument is not about revenge it’s about protecting the right of free speech and in fact, environments safe enough for conflicting ideas to co-exist to be considered and contended.

As clearly delineated, it would not require some kind of mass use of force. In fact, the author makes it plain that such actions to enforce fairness could be limited to very specific circumstances of the academia.

The more difficult problem exists with academic faculty itself. They are the encouraging and supporting a good deal of this. I suspect that the debates going on within faculty meetings is fairly intense. But the power of the APA, and the tentacles of NEA, as well as other unbeknownst networks of “revolutionaries” are going to make challenges of this nature tough.

In spite of the hurdles, and acknowledging the risk to careers, the authors contention makes perfect sense.

The best answer is that instructors would actually have the courage, skills and integrity to set more processes by which rhetorical dialect is engaged without resorting to violence. Instead of emotional sessions of activation, the Universities should institute faculty courses on effective teaching.

in the minds of administrator are the images from Kent State. The author is not suggesting a call to the National guard.

#29 Comment By Grendelssohn On June 14, 2017 @ 8:34 pm

Couple of minor points of correction:

First, the proper name of the college is; THE Evergreen State College. If you say “Evergreen State College”, anyone who knows anything about The Evergreen State College will know you don’t know anything about The Evergreen State College. In the same way you wouldn’t refer to “Hague” in “Netherlands”; Everyone would know what you were talking about, but would assume you don’t. It’s not pretentious, it’s just what is. If you want to shorten it, just refer to it as “Evergreen.”

Second; Evergreen does not have a “Day Without White People”… officially. The “day” in question here was Evergreen’s “Day of Absence/Day of Presence”. In the past, on “Day of Absence”, non-white people would voluntarily absent themselves from campus, and then on “Day of Presence”, the “community” was supposed to come together and “discuss”. This year, Rashida Love, head of “Racial Equity by Sticking it to White People” (not her official title, but she DOES have an official title and capacity here), turned it around and TOLD white people to stay off campus for the “Day of Absence”, which Weinstein suggested might be racist, therefore branding himself as a racist forever. (Wait, what?!) So, while it was in PRACTICE intended to be a “Day Without White People”, Evergreen does not TECHNICALLY have a “Day without White People”. The way your first paragraph reads makes it seem like we do have an OFFICIAL and officially titled “Day Without White People.”

Speaking from the inside of The Evergreen State College–at the moment, spatially literally (I will not identify where for fear of reprisal)–I will share that the atmosphere amongst those of us not involved is fear. Which, of course, is precisely the goal of the brown-shirted student thuggery and spineless administrative acquiescence which we have just experienced. We all now know that none of us are safe. This could be me.

Curious little addition: thanks to all this, the folks that brought us the Free Speech rally in Portland and the anti-Sharia rally in Seattle over the weekend are paying us a visit tomorrow as a result of all this. The administration has decided to close the campus early, before they start showing up. This is a good, because many of us are afraid. The irony is; it is our STUDENTS that we are afraid of, not the off-campus “protesters”. Our students, our administration enabling them, and the faculty egging them on.

Pray for us all,
Grendelssohn,
THE Evergreen State College,
Looking for a new job somewhere in reality.
(No. Really.)

#30 Comment By Ellimist000 On June 14, 2017 @ 9:56 pm

“If we imagine the unthinkable—that Yale University lost its accreditation—then its degrees would count as much or as little as a diploma from the John Doe Academy of Astrology and Other Advanced Sciences.”

This is incredibly naive. If positions of power were absolutely and objectively dependent on official paper trails, we wouldn’t have the buffoon-in-chief we have in the White House right now. Heck, we wouldn’t have even had Obama in either.

Your scenario would be spun as an unjust reaction to left-wing actors and minorities expressing their rights to speech, protest, and the right to bear arms (which is what an Antifa loon shouting angrily wielding a crowbar is, according to loony 2nd amendment logic applied in a non-bigoted fashion).

Then one of two things would happen. A. the rich and powerful either ignore accreditation or form their own and all the left wing colleges follow suit. Or B. enough teeth is put behind the action that it beats the above parties into submission but causes enough outrage to put liberals into power, where they will prompt use this power to disbar religious colleges who don’t celebrate gay pride month or keep an abortion provider on payroll.

Have you people learned nothing over the past decade?

#31 Comment By Colorado Jack On June 15, 2017 @ 1:16 pm

” If an elite liberal arts college lost its accreditation, then its graduates would have spent a quarter million dollars (plus) for literally nothing.”

I understand the author is speaking of the hard practicalities that control administrative behavior. Still, the mindset is revealing. An education is worth nothing in itself, only as a credential for employment or graduate degrees.

Have we really descended so low?

#32 Comment By EliteCommInc. On June 15, 2017 @ 2:11 pm

” We all now know that none of us are safe. This could be me.

Curious little addition: thanks to all this, the folks that brought us the Free Speech rally in Portland and the anti-Sharia rally in Seattle over the weekend are paying us a visit tomorrow as a result of all this. ”

There are instructors who are mean spirited. There are instructors who see their positions as tools to exercise their personal greivences or merely as a power trip.

I find it curious that the head of whatever organization Racial equity means is a woman. And this white people off campus thing makes no sense. What blacks and native american should want is engagement with whites as equals. That is of curse the actual greveince, and justifiably so. That doesn’t occur if whites are absent. And I am not talking about foreigners who are not here legally or those here legally but are not citizens.

This matter is an issue for US citizens to address. It’s hard for me to believe that they are no people of color instructors or students who aren’t saying,

Whoa and huh?

I cannot imagine being able to actually teach in such an environment. As for fear, I think that is a valid feeling but hardly a helpful response.
____________________

“Then one of two things would happen. A. the rich and powerful either ignore accreditation or form their own and all the left wing colleges follow suit. Or B. enough teeth is put behind the action that it beats the above parties into submission but causes enough outrage to put liberals into power . . .”

Hmmmm,

not su sure it’s that black and white or that a bludgeon to silence is the means being advocated.

It’s entirely reasonable that what gets pressed is for dialectic dialogue. Which used to be the cornerstone of grappling with truth in academia. A healthy fleshing out of issues.

That does not mean that anyone negate the hurt feelings, anguish that such constructs will without doubt evoke. It does not mean that campuses must become some unreal place where fear rules. People get upset. Things happen. There are jealousies, agendas, carelessness, rude, and all matter of asundaries that that result in expression. But none of that is the end of the world and we should stop treating it as such.

Calling out violence intended to intimidate instructors, or students is out of bounds. And while you reference minorities, the juggernaut of nearly all of this advocacy has come from women’s studies, and by and large white women.

I understand the goal of Miss/Ms./Mrs Love, but hardly agree to the methodology.

#33 Comment By Deggjr On June 15, 2017 @ 5:42 pm

The mobs are clearly wrong.

I think one of the problems for many colleges not named Yale is there is a finite number of people who can pay 20k+ per year for a college education and there is fierce competition among the colleges for those people.

If the stream of incoming students dries up for even one year the college could be tipped into a death spiral.

One the other hand, the supply of college administrators and instructors is unlimited.

The power dynamic is so unbalanced. I don’t know what the answer is.

#34 Comment By Arnold Ian Reeves On June 16, 2017 @ 12:19 am

As comments here have abundantly shown, accreditation is simply what Karl Kraus (speaking of psychiatry) called “the disease it pretends to cure.”

So no, Professor, the threat of accreditation removal isn’t the nuclear option at all. The nuclear option is student removal.

End the ridiculous farce of pretending that more than 10% of kids have the intellectual or moral chops to be allowed on a campus in the first place. End the mob-rule by pubescent snowflakes who think (if “thinking” it can be called) with their hormones. Conscript them into the armed forces, if need be. Or, better, into trade school. (Have you ever tried to obtain a competent, English-speaking plumber / welder / tiler / electrician when you need one, especially during a weekend structural emergency?)

But end this ridiculous and quintesentially American farce – which most Europeans regard as criminal lunacy – of expecting almost the entire white-population to acquire something optimistically called a “degree” from something optimistically called a “university.”

#35 Comment By Michael Powe On June 16, 2017 @ 7:42 pm

The unthinkable option is that Professor Jenkins and fellow travelers would stop defining “free speech” as solely Holocaust denial, racism, homophobia, or Islamophobia. These are the only topics being defended on this premise.

If the good professor and his comrades want to “quell violence” on campus, stop defending grossly sinful and socially destructive behavior.

You may indeed have Constitutional protection for calling a black man a n*gger, but no decent person would avail himself of the option, and no decent person would defend you for doing it.

Islamophobia or Holocaust denial are not topics for debate. These people only continue in their rounds because conservatives give them the “all clear,” the intellectual provenance to keep on keeping on.

At one and the same time, you denounce pro-choice people as monsters, and defend the people who hate Muslims.

That’s moral bankruptcy. Turn yourself around, and protect the people being harmed, instead of those doing the harm. America will be a better place for it.

#36 Comment By Sothguard On June 18, 2017 @ 6:07 pm

I’m sorry but this won’t work. Many of these Universities, including Yale, consist of many colleges, most of which are doing a swell job. They won’t lose their accreditation for doing as well as they are.
Now, you might be able to go after the humanities, but unfortunately the agencies are the problem in that circumstance. The only option is for students to stop entering those flawed programs, or to stop providing Federal and State funding for said programs.

#37 Comment By Christopher Sanchez On June 18, 2017 @ 6:35 pm

The mere suggestion that accreditation be weaponized in this (or any other) way is appalling and should give all Americans who care about education at any level pause. If accreditation can be used in this way, it can be used to force any social agenda upon the education system that the current powers that be desire.

Dr. Jenkins misses the mark here by a wide margin. His suggestion that accreditation be used to bludgeon universities should be rejected.

#38 Comment By EliteCommInc. On June 20, 2017 @ 10:00 pm

“Dr. Jenkins misses the mark here by a wide margin. His suggestion that accreditation be used to bludgeon universities should be rejected.”

That is not what he is saying at all. You have mightily twisted the context out of focus.

#39 Comment By Adam Kotsko On June 22, 2017 @ 8:02 am

This column itself displays a profound ignorance of the accreditation process. For instance, it is wrong to say that after losing accreditation, a school “can no longer issue ‘degrees’ that qualify for employment.” It is up to employers whether they accept degrees or not — there is no legal standard that you can’t get a job unless you have an accredited degree (except for some professional fields). In the case of Yale, they presumably would go on the university’s reputation instead of some administrative body they’ve never heard of.

The only thing you definitely lose if you lose accreditation is access to federal student aid, including subsidized loans. Several conservative Christian schools (like Bob Jones and Moody Bible) choose to forego accreditation because of the restrictions it creates, and they continue to survive. Yale could presumably do without federal aid, though smaller schools would indeed be doomed in many cases.

My question is why accreditors should be policing student behavior. If we grant that these protests are bad, what should be done to prevent them? Armed riot police at lectures? Secret police to infiltrate student groups planning the protests? It’s hard to imagine a cure that’s not worse than the supposed disease.

#40 Comment By Ivo Olavo Castro da Silva On June 27, 2017 @ 4:27 pm

It’s about time for these pseudo-educational institutions to have their accreditation revoked. And this has nothing to do with ideology. It is because they are allowing intimidation and violence against those who do not agree with the views held by their managers. There is nothing more American than that.