Colleges feel left-wing protests' financial pinch
Outrageous left-wing protests are starting to take their toll on university development funds.
As the court of public opinion determines that certain college campuses are becoming enemies of debate, decency, and free speech, alumni are pulling back their donations, The New York Times reports.
Scott MacConnell, a 1960 graduate of Amherst College, once included a large donation to the school in his will, but has recently cut that to a symbolic $5.
“As an alumnus of the college, I feel that I have been lied to, patronized, and basically dismissed as an old, white, bigot who is insensitive to the needs and feelings of the current college community,” MacConnell observed in a December letter to the school’s alumni fund.
Robert Longsworth, who graduated from Amherst in 1999 and now works in finance, says he is stepping away from promoting alumni donations. He is upset that his school is “so wrapped up in this politically charged mission rather than staying in its lane and being an institution of higher learning.”
He said he has many friends who attended elite northeastern schools who are “not pleased at what’s happening on campus, and they’ve kind of stepped away.” For them, stopping donations “seems to be the only lever that makes a difference.”
Donations to Amherst dropped 6.5 percent in the last fiscal year, and participation in the alumni donor fund is at its lowest since 1975, when the college began accepting female students.
Scott C. Johnston, a 1982 Yale graduate, observed first-hand some of the anti-free speech protests at his alma mater this fall. He said that a viral video of students confronting an administrator who didn’t “create a place of comfort and home” gave the school a particularly bad image.
“I don’t think anything has damaged Yale’s brand quite like that,” Johnston said. “This is not your daddy’s liberalism. The worst part is that campus administrators are wilting before the activists like flowers.”
An alumni donor from a private liberal arts college on the east coast fears that a minority of students are now able to hijack the funds at their institutions for purposes other than donor intent.
“If you allocate money from one place, you’re going to take it away from another, ” the donor, who requested anonymity, told Campus Reform. “When I attended I was in a position where I had to allocate funding for different college clubs and saw first hand the sense of entitlement that many of my fellow students had.”
Caving in to protesters’ demands and redirecting funds can quickly catch the attention of alumni donors on the opposite end of the political spectrum, which is not a good thing for development efforts.
“College administrators should be aware of what donors are thinking, and it looks like they aren’t,” the donor remarked.
Amherst isn’t the only school suffering a fiscal backlash over liberalism on campus. The University of Missouri, which was rocked by racial protests last fall, has seen a steep financial shortfall as enrollment dropped.
Mizzou found itself 1,500 students and $32 million short earlier this year, and administrators attempted to help close the gap with a five percent budget cut. However, that didn't stop the university from spending thousands of dollars at the Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons hotel in St. Louis.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @RiersonNC