Commentary: Blaming Berkeley

On May 1, 2017, Connecting California columnist and editor, Zócalo Public Square, fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010), published an opinion on the Fox & Hounds website.  Here’s an excerpt:

Thank you, Berkeley.

Recent headlines should remind Californians of yet another way we are lucky. Our state has the world’s best scapegoat: you.

You—our most distinguished public university and all the people, institutions and neighborhoods surrounding it — do far more than research and educate. You serve the vital social purpose of being a convenient punching bag for angry people of all manner of ideological preoccupations.

The right and the center can pin all of California’s liberal sins, real and imagined, on you. And the left sees a reactionary threat in everything, from your fundraising, to police action on or near campus, to the presence of law professor John Yoo, who defended torture under President George W. Bush. Sometimes you’re denounced as dangerously permissive, and other times you’re frighteningly authoritarian.

And when it comes to higher education’s struggles, legislators on both sides of the aisle blame you for everything: You’re too arrogant, and you charge too much and you let in too many out-of-state students—even though the need to pocket that higher out-of-state tuition is the direct result of the legislature’s systematic disinvestment in you and your sister university campuses across California.

Yes, California as a whole takes a lot of critical blows. But can you imagine how more bloodied the rest of our state would be if we didn’t have you around to absorb so much abuse?

Read the complete article on the Fox & Hounds website.