We have been warning you for well over a decade that what happens at universities does not stay at universities.
All of us laugh and marvel at the great idiocies, and even greater evils, that happen in our august institutions of “higher” learning. Yet few of us are terribly concerned about these signs, happy enough not to be amidst the swirling seas of lunacy.
This was a terrible mistake. The cancer was recognized early—the very moment a “degree” was created in “college administration”—and a cure could then have been effected. All funds, and bodies, could have been cut off, and the cancer starved. A radical treatment, yes, because this would have destroyed some healthy tissue along with the bad. But all wars, medical and metaphorical, come with casualties.
It is too late now. Yes, we could, in theory, take out universities. We could, as was suggested many times, nuke them from orbit, salt the ground even as it glows, and build enormous fences around the pits of the kind Tech Lords in San Francisco protect their houses with.
It won’t matter. The disease has escaped. The graduates, tainted after half a century of exposure, have taken over all positions of power. If we destroyed the old buildings, our rulers would create new ones. We could exile all professors to Venus, but our rulers would credential new ones. It is too late to save the old structure.
What we can still do is learn from the universities. The form of governance they have created for themselves is the form we are rapidly entering into, because our rulers will be led by the university credentialed. The form is the one we have been discussing, an oligarch-directed expertocracy.
Let’s take one of their strongholds, Yale. We have a lovely story that laments softly that the number of administrators now equals the number of students.
Go on and laugh, if you like. But I warn you. This form of governance is coming to you.
Over the last two decades, the number of managerial and professional staff that Yale employs has risen three times faster than the undergraduate student body, according to University financial reports…
In 2003, when 5,307 undergraduate students studied on campus, the University employed 3,500 administrators and managers. In 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on student enrollment, only 600 more students were living and studying at Yale, yet the number of administrators had risen by more than 1,500 — a nearly 45 percent hike. In 2018, The Chronicle of Higher Education found that Yale had the highest manager-to-student ratio of any Ivy League university, and the fifth highest in the nation among four-year private colleges.
I remind you the first name for the expertocracy was the managerial revolution.
Now the point of the article was eight faculty members who decry the situation, who rightly say “this administration size imposes unnecessary costs, interferes with students’ lives and faculty’s teaching, spreads the burden of leadership and adds excessive regulation.”
Memorize this, for again I warn you this is coming everywhere. Word for word, it is a perfect description of an expertocracy. Increased bureaucracy in its myriad forms, wasteful spending at odds with stated goals, excessive and ludicrous interference (“micromanaging”) in every aspect of life, a diffuse leadership structure enforcing rule by oligarch-directed Consensus, and hence banality and error, and (I’ll just quote it) “excessive regulation.”
It will all happen. It is happening.
The more important point is that these professors’ correct and damning complaint will not be acted on in any way. It will be dismissed. The level of caring of these professors—and it is, the story takes pains to show, high—means nothing. That they are inside the system means nothing. That they want only the best for Yale means nothing.
One prof said the “main driver [of growth of admins] has been the desire of administrators to accumulate power and influence within their institutions.” This is true. This is how it works. This is why it can’t be dismantled inside that system.
What you must grasp is that most want this. Ask and it shall be given.
Additionally, the growth may have partially stemmed from student requests. Hannah Peck, the assistant dean of student affairs at Yale College, told the News that the Student Affairs team added four new health promotion positions as part of the YC3 program.
“Students have consistently requested more mental health support on campus and we are thrilled to be able to provide it,” Peck wrote.
No one man has the power to tear down what should be torn down. Inexorable growth is the result, creating increasing weight which will eventually kill the organization.
But not for a very long time.
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