The Outstater

June 19, 2024

Do You Trust Your University?

WE DON’T HAVE opinion surveys measuring the trust Hoosiers have in their particular state universities. My guess is that after the spring pro-Hamas encampments the percentage that still think that Indiana University, for example, is doing a decent job is around 10 percent, or roughly the number of people wandering around cognitively disabled in some way.

Is that fair to the many great teachers on the Bloomington campus? No, but the many great teachers there aren’t running the university. Cabals of administrators are running them, and on some campuses they threaten to outnumber students. 

My untrustworthiness guess is based on a widely quoted running opinion survey by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression. Here is the columnist Jonathan Turley on its latest findings: 

“Not surprisingly, given the ideological balance at most schools, the highest levels of trust came from Democrats and liberals. However, even this group only showed a 40 percent “high confidence” rate. Among Republicans, it drops to 12 percent and among independents it drops to 28 percent.”

Now, take Turley’s suggestion and imagine that your business is getting the same feedback. And what’s more, your most faithful “customers” (in this case political liberals and registered Democrats) recorded sharp drops in those who had “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in you. There would be at the very least a period of agonizing reappraisal, as we used to say in Haight-Ashbury.

Do you get the impression that’s happening? Either at the Statehouse or in Bloomington? No, those in charge of the rolling disaster that is higher education plan to simply ride it out. The IU president has begun the predictable series of “listening sessions.” The chairmen of the Senate and House committees on higher education are hunkered down for the summer. Is Eric Holcomb even on the continent?

The survey’s authors don’t presume to measure just why confidence is dropping, but permit me to speculate:

It is not unreasonable to expect public universities that have fallen so low in public esteem to come up with a public plan to address each of those points. This is said in recognition that we are dealing with smart people knowledgable about the challenges facing higher education. Some of them are even selfless, well-meaning and seriously worried about the future of thier institution. 

Those in that last group need to step up and find some leverage, and soon. — tcl


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