Why college costs so much | Columns

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I read several articles this past week concerning the brouhaha over diversity programs at Boise State University. Republican lawmakers penned letters condemning these programs. Then, predictably, Democratic lawmakers penned letters supporting them. Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right.

This may surprise some of you but I’m mostly with the Republicans on this one. Though probably not for the same reasons as the Republican lawmakers who penned the aforementioned letter, I’m not particularly a fan of diversity programs and others of their ilk.

Diversity programs, at least in my experience, are part of the unnecessarily burgeoning yet de rigueur panoply of excess in higher education. Programs like these have become a staple of colleges and universities despite being expensive to administer and substantially benefiting almost no one.

If you want diversity at a University or anyplace else just admit, hire or welcome a diverse group of people. That’s about all there is to it. You don’t need a Vice President, Director, Assistant Director, office staff, student help and the salaries and overhead that go along with all of this to work out what is essentially a simple proposition.

Every institution of higher education that I’ve been associated with was filled to the brim with individuals who didn’t give a hoot what you looked like or where you came from as long as you could do the work. Most of them were pretty big on the concept of having a diverse workplace without having to be told what a great thing it was in the first place.

The only reason that diversity programs have become as common and about as useful as knots on logs is that the educational-diversity complex has managed to convince everyone that the most liberal group of people in the world, college professors and administrators, are somehow a bunch of knuckle-dragging hillbillies when it comes to seeing potential and skill instead of stuff that doesn’t actually matter.

Way back in the dark ages, when complex math was done on a slide rule and we were still putting humans on the moon, I entered the University of Kentucky as a freshman and a complete rube. A hick from the sticks. That first few months was an eye-opener that rocked my world. Everyone should be so lucky.

I got assigned to the freshman men’s dormitory for those who were not bound for a fraternity and didn’t impress anyone as very important. My floor, in particular, was an interesting place as it housed athletes who were either in club sports or varsity sports without a full scholarship.

There were kids from all over there and from every walk of life. It was a rowdy place. And you know what? We figured everything out without any help from a diversity program. They didn’t exist back then. I’m still in weekly touch with friends I made there 45 years ago.

Grad school was another quantum leap into the world of diversity. I studied with students, men and women, from around the world. I learned to play a mean game of table tennis after I was befriended by a couple of Chinese guys I rescued from a bar fight.

I watched students from countries that were at war with each other work very well together on thesis projects. No books, manuals, cue cards or come to Jesus talks from the diversity police either. We just figured it out.

I have great faith in the ability of human beings to figure things out — especially when properly motivated. When the choice,for instance, is figure it out or face the wrath of your advisor for not getting something done, figure it out wins every time. Trust me. I have a great deal of personal experience on both sides of this.

Diversity programs are a really good example of why a college education has come to cost more than a nice house. There is way too much excess in higher ed. You want to make a college education less expensive?

Eliminate programs like these and then lop off about half of the administrative positions that bloat most University rosters. After that scrutinize any program that ends in “studies.” Then quit charging students fees for things they don’t use.

Yet the government, in all of its wisdom, has exacerbated the problem of out of control costs in higher ed. by not only encouraging the existence of useless programs like the aforementioned but in some cases mandating them. Then, in the ultimate scam, encouraging students to borrow prodigious amounts of money to pay for it all. What a bunch of soulless wretches.

I’m all for some form of post-secondary for everyone, but not like we have now. One of the major reasons that I retired early from a position that’s hard to come by, a University Lecturer, was that I could increasingly not justify being a part of a system that, at least in my view, exists largely to transfer wealth from the young and vulnerable to the old and powerful — all backed by the full faith and credit of the Federal Government.

So hell yes, bin diversity programs and the like and pass on the savings to students who almost never really need those programs. And tell the diversity police to go soak their heads. That’s what I did then and am doing now. It never gets old.

Associated Press and Idaho Press Club award-winning columnist Martin Hackworth of Pocatello is a physicist, writer, consultant and retired Idaho State University faculty member who now spends his time happily raising three children, llama farming and riding mountain bikes and motorcycles.

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