The deep problem with most state universities is that they are run in such a way as to represent the “interests” of the people.
After all, the people want to pay barely anything for tuition, want a top notch research university, want competitive sports teams at those universities, and then want everyone and anyone to get into these places and succeed. This utterly unrealistic set of demands is populism at its best.
However, as commentators from Plato to the Federalist have noted, the popular will is rarely directly instantiated by the people. In our modern democracy, the people make their opinions known, and the opinion creates a climate where any and all standards are shaped by them knowingly or unknowingly. I submit the few who control the Board of Governors and the administration at Rutgers are elites in the sense that they are the inheritors and preservers of this climate.
Take note of the culture that’s destroyed Rutgers, a culture where every decision about education is put in terms that would better describe a business. The culture of obsessing over money, success, “being number 1” in an academic discipline (stop laughing, I had to stop laughing years ago when I went to this awful school), and, of course, providing remedial instruction to people who are little better than criminals – this culture stems from the only way the lowest common denominator can conceive of the good.
You can argue, and you would be right, that the “lowest common denominator” is not necessarily “the people.” That’s absolutely true – that’s why there’s hope for fixing Rutgers, that’s why people who do know better can communicate and trust others with their words. People do desire the good, when they care.
The reason why the “lowest common denominator” has come into play, making “the people” more expansive and more vicious than ever before, is because truth be told, people in New Jersey don’t care about education. They care about rankings, they care about money, they care about what they think they need to survive.
And yeah, the consequences are severe, quite obviously.
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