Watching The Car Crash of Colleges
by Lenny Esposito
Imagine living in a town with a moderate population of 20,000 people. The town has several traffic signals that seem to take far too long to turn green. Townspeople complain that the signals are slowing down their commutes, even when no one else is on the road. Why should they be held up when they have important things to do?
The city council members, hearing from this vocal minority and wishing to be reelected, begin to justify the idea of removing the signals and selling the idea to all the townspeople. Drivers are smart; they will be careful when crossing the intersection, they argue, because no one wishes to get into an accident. They will slow down and stop, giving deference to others who were there first.
So, the leaders issue a command to take down the signals, proclaiming that everyone now has more freedom. They can now enjoy an unencumbered driving experience and they may make better time since they don’t have to stop unnecessarily. They even begin to say that commerce should increase because of the time savings.
As you can imagine, that isn’t going to be what actually happens. More people begin to traffic through these intersections because there are no signals and those in a time crunch think they can save a few seconds off their commute. Accidents at the intersections go up; sometimes this is because a rogue speedster simply didn’t want to stop, but more often because everyone has a different opinion of who was to have the right-of-way. Stymied, city officials decry the actions of anyone who gets into an accident and set up special panels to fund out why drivers wouldn’t stop. They then begin to focus more blame on sports car owners for being at fault because they obviously want to go faster than anyone else. Why else would they be driving such a performance-oriented vehicle? It’s no matter, though. Accidents will continue to rise and people will continue to be hurt.
Today’s Colleges Have Removed the Traffic Lights
This is what our college students are facing today. Institutions of higher education used to understand that they had a responsibility to educate the entire person. Part of that education included religious and moral instruction. Alvin J. Schmidt notes that even as recently as 1932, 92% of the 182 colleges and universities in America were founded by Christian denominations.1 However, things have changed….