Spotted Toad considers why extremely upscale colleges like Middlebury and the Claremont consortium seem to be jumping through so many hoops at present:
Also interesting to me is how the whole incident fits into the broader pattern I noticed last month and Richard Reeves and Dimitrios Halikias followed up on in their Brookings article. As Reeves and Halikias showed, the colleges that were most likely to disinvite a speaker for political beliefs were also among the richest:Thus, we elite whites prove how much we are on the side of California’s dusky masses by how virulently we hate any other whites we notice dissing you nonwhites in even the subtlest fashion. You nonwhites probably haven’t actually heard of Charles Murray or Heather Mac Donald, but, don’t worry, we’ll hate them for you. That’s what we’re here for: we know what’s best for you, such as punching Charles Murray.
True to this pattern, Pomona (perhaps the college most similar to Middlebury on the West Coast) and Claremont are among the wealthiest colleges in California and in the country, with a median income among students’ parents of $166,000 and $201,000 respectively.
Pomona’s student body is somewhat less outrageously concentrated among the wealthiest than at Middlebury or Claremont, to be sure. But thinking in terms of the demographics of California public schools, where 62% of students are low-income enough to be eligible for free lunch, the challenge facing the administrators of wealthy and academically elite colleges in a changing America is perhaps even clearer:
These institutions’ democratic legitimacy depends to a significant degree on reflecting, at least in visible racial terms, the characteristics of the broader student population. Yet economically they depend on donations from the tiniest sliver of the ultra-wealthy as well as on wealthy American and international students paying full tuition. Still more challenging, their ranking on the lists that drive prestige (and, to be frank, their ability to continue to offer a challenging curriculum and produce alumni who will be economically successful) depends on admitting students with high test scores and good grades, yet the limited supply of black and Hispanic students with superb test scores and grades are hotly contested by all the elite schools.
The result, it would seem, is a protective radicalization- the offering of an alternative curriculum (both explicit and implicit) that downplays the importance of intellectual endeavor for students who are at a disadvantage in academic preparation (“the Enlightenment and Truth are just a projection of white supremacy!”) , while keeping the student body as a whole as homogeneously overprepared as possible (the 75th percentile in SAT scores at Pomona is almost a perfect 1600!)
But, as can be seen from the graph of Republican versus Democratic vote shares at top, the overall contradiction is much broader than just elite college campuses, even if they embody it most totally. The elite has shifted left, especially on racial issues, for many reasons, but surely the largest is simply that they would like to remain the elite, and this is contingent on their appearing to represent the broader population. As the broader population, in the country and in the world, shifts demographically to resemble the elite less and less in ancestry, religion, and temperament, the contortions required of the elite to establish itself as worthy of trust are ever more extreme.