|LSU President King Alexander:
It only costs a TOPS student a thousand bucks a year to attend LSU. Really?
How did Ms. Welsh figure out Alexander's numbers were wrong? By drawing on her family's own experience with a child in college and by looking at housing costs posted online at LSU's web site.
President Alexander's recent misstatement is just another example of the modern university's tendency to hide the truth. LSU, after all, is the same university that refuses to disclose the names of people who applied for the LSU president's job that Alexander now holds.
Some more examples? George Washington University recently admitted that it had not told the truth when it represented that it had a needs-blind admission policy. Sorry about that.
UC Davis refused to explain the circumstances under which Lieutenant John Pike, the guy who pepper-sprayed non-offending students in November,2011, left university employment. Was he fired? Did UC Davis pay him off? Who knows? UC Davis won't talk.
And then there's Ohio State University, which was embarrassed to disclose how much it was paying OSU President Gordon Gee. It took an Ohio newspaper about a year to pry that information out of the university after it filed a Freedom of Information request.
And remember Harvard Law School's refusal a few years ago to disclose which of its professors was a Native American, although it represented that one faculty member was an Indian? Why the reticence? I suspect it was because it was counting Professor Elizabeth Warren as a Native American, when in fact she is not. Oops!
Finally, there's the College Board, which speaks for higher education in general. In a report issued earlier this month, it actually represented that the cost of attending a private nonprofit college had gone down over the past ten years, in spite of the fact that tuition at a private college has gone up almost every year for the past 30 years.
How did the College Board justify that whopper? By distinguishing between the sticker price of attending college (going up) and the so-called net price, which the College Board said has gone down a bit after tax benefits, grants, scholarships, and inflation are taken into account. Of course not every student gets those scholarships, grants, and tax breaks. You--Mr. and Ms. sucker--are probably paying the sticker price.
Why do colleges and their constituent organizations continually hide the facts about their activities? Two reasons. First, they are accountable to no one and don't care if they get caught in a misstatement or an embarrassing activity. Do you think King Alexander cares about being corrected by a Baton Rouge homemaker?
Second, the upper echelons of American higher education are contemptuous of the American people. Like Colonel Jessup who screamed "You can't handle the truth!" in A Few Good Men, they don't think Americans deserve to know the facts about the way their universities are being run.
That's why we need a federal Freedom of Information Act that requires all colleges and universities receiving federal funds to publicly disclose a whole range of their activities including the way they choose their executive leaders, their affirmative action practices, their admissions policies, and the way they distribute scholarships and student aid.
Until they are required by law to do so, American universities will continue to behave like Lois Lerner, the IRS administrator who assured Congress she had nothing wrong and then took the Fifth Amendment.
|Lois Lerner of IRS
Not taking any questions
Koran Addo. LSU President calls for reinvestment in higher education. The (Baton Rouge) Advocate, October 17, 2013. Accessible at: http://theadvocate.com/home/7336360-125/lsu-president-calls-for-reinvestment
Elizabeth Welsh. LSU cost numbers don't add up. The (Baton Rouge) Advocate, October 29, 2013, p. 8B.