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Higher education needs to reform itself. It also needs to defend itself.

Higher education needs to reform itself. It also needs to defend itself.

The Hill

Jeremy C. Young
January 13, 2024
These are turbulent times for universities.
Rising incidents of antisemitism on campuses across the country — highlighted in a disastrous hearing in Congress that contributed to the resignations of two Ivy League presidents — have led to widespread calls to reform higher education, refocusing it on principles of pluralism and free expression.
It’s true that higher education needs to reform itself. But more than ever, it also needs to defend itself.
In the wake of Claudine Gay’s ouster at Harvard on the heels of Liz Magill’s departure from the University of Pennsylvania presidency, Manhattan Institute senior fellow and New College of Florida trustee Christopher Rufo took credit, gloating that his real objective was not to enforce plagiarism standards or prevent campus antisemitism, but “to eliminate the DEI bureaucracy in every institution in America.” In doing so, Rufo made clear what we at PEN America have long observed.
While there are very real problems on college campuses — many of which do stem from challenges with antisemitism, free speech and diversity, equity and inclusion offices — bad-faith actors are using this as a pretext to promote a longstanding and largely unrelated political agenda that is hostile to higher education as a whole.
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