University of Missouri Protests

November/14/2015 7:44AM
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College students like to protest. When I was in college we  had three days of protests. A couple was kicked out for having sex in the dorm parking lot. This was back in the time when women had to check in by a certain time or they were kicked out. It was very restrictive and students wanted more freedom. Now anything goes for the most part. The university was Mom and Dad for the kids back then. Now kids say they feel unsafe. Want Mom and Dad back? Don’t think so.

During the Vietnam War students protested the war. ROTC was thrown off many campuses. Strange that the Mizzou protest it fell on Veterans Day and ROTC students at the university were told not to wear their uniforms that day for security reasons.

This protest was over racial inequality. Seemed like a fair reason for a protest. If the university was treating minorities of any type unfairly, it needed to stop. One student was on a hunger strike to support the protest. Finally, the football team, in support, threatened to boycott the game this weekend and that sealed the deal. The president who wasn’t doing enough to stop the inequality resigned and one other executive followed. A professor tried to resign because the said there was a test the day of the protest and if a students didn’t show up for the test they were flunking the test. Students protested this, so the prof tendered his letter of resignation. Seems this was a very popular  professor and the university refused to accept the resignation. Unpopular presidents get to resign but popular professors don’t.

Then we begin to get the facts. First, the hunger striker is in his seventh or eighth year there. He  says he has been converted to socialism as a student but he is from a family where dad made $8MM last year as the marketing VP for Union Pacific Railroad. Dad may have some fallout from this. Not from UP who wouldn’t dare change his employment status until the customers who may not agree with the actions of the son and his impact on the university stop buying freight from UP. Marketing executives, unlike professors and university presidents, have accountability. I know, I was one. If the numbers fall off, you are gone along with your $8MM a year salary.

Then there’s the university and their fallout. One top football recruit has gone on record saying he’s not going there since the campus is out of control. How many high school seniors who have been accepted there are having second thoughts. How many juniors who might have applied won’t? I had dinner one night with a very wealthy female alumnus of Mizzou 5 years ago. She said she was a substantial donor to the university. They badgered her to visit the campus which she hadn’t done in 50 years in an effort to up the ante on her donations. She did and they gave her the grand tour. When it was over and they made the pitch for a big check, she said she told them she would never give another dime to the school.  She said the student center was nicer than a Four Seasons Hotel.  Climbing walls and the works. Felt her money was being wasted and that the university was being run like the government. She said no wonder tuition was going up so much faster than inflation since the fools who ran the place were spending like drunken sailors. Now, an out of control situation must have an impact on alumni contributions.

Then there’s  that little matter of  economic inequality. It would be a guess, but I’m pretty sure that the majority of the protesters were getting some form of substantial assistance with their educational expense at Mizzou. On most university campuses today, only 25% are paying full boat.  If you are one of those 25% you might have a real case for being upset. Especially  if the other 75% are claiming  injustice. There is a bigger protest coming on campuses across the country. It will be an outcome of the campaigns of Hillary and Bernie. Students will demand free college, $15 minimum wages for all college employees, and student loan forgiveness for all. They now believe that getting a president fired at a major university is a signal that this is the time to get this done.

For years the campus has been a hotbed of liberal political belief.  Our kids are besieged with the politics of the university staff. for years out-of-control spending has been the norm on every campus with no one with a whit of business acumen running the shows. And, zero accountability for keeping costs down. After all, the government will keep loaning whatever it takes in student loans to pay the freight. And, campus leaders of all types from presidents to professor to students can’t do the math. Like Hillary and Bernie they are numbers challenged. They truly believe that the 1%ers can pay for whatever they want. Just take 100% from the 1%ers and let the party roll. When presented with the math they refuse to listen.

The housing bubble that blew up the economy had the same basis. First the government initiated an entitlement. Every American should own their own home. Then they created a financial mechanism to make that happen: Freddie, Fannie and the FHA. Then they put pressure on the banks to loan money to those who couldn’t pay based of a formula. Then when it all blew apart they pointed back to the banks and Wall Street and the credit agencies.

Mizzou may have lit the fuse on the student loan bubble and it may have the same impact on the economy as the housing bubble. After all, it’s well over a trillion dollars and a lot is in arrears.

Over what injustice? Not one person has really been able to articulate the big reasons for the protests at Mizzou. They seem embarrassed trying. But, if you suggest it may be overblown, heaven forbid , you may be a racist.  Sometimes in retrospect things don’t look so bad. This seems to be one of those cases. So, the university gets branded as an out of control campus. And, maybe it was, not from a racial standpoint but from a fiduciary perspective. A smaller student body due to fewer enrollees, a smaller budget due to that and smaller alumni donations and not so many full-freight tuition students will fix that problem. Good luck to the new president.

And to the students. You don’t feel safe on the Mizzou campus even though you stay there as a student for eight years, cast your eyes to Paris. Your problems will seem small in comparison.

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