Someone asked Willie Sutton, the notorious bank robber, why he robbed banks. “Because that’s where the money is," he replied.
If you were to ask the elite universities why they are opening campuses in Washington, DC, you would get a similar answer: Because that’s where the money is.
As reported in a recent issue of Inside Higher Ed, more than 40 American universities have opened campuses in the nation’s capital. For example, UCLA established a branch campus in DC at the cost of $50 million. It celebrated the event by flying the UCLA marching band to Washington, which must’ve cost the University a few additional bucks.
Carol Folt, UCLA‘s president, described the new outpost as the “Trojan Embassy,“ as if the university is a nation unto itself. So many universities have placed campuses near Dupont Circle in Washington, that the area has been described as “a kind of Embassy Row for non-local higher Ed institutions "
Why are so many universities setting up shop hundreds of miles from their flagship campuses? College leaders articulate all kinds of high-minded motivations. Some told Inside Higher Ed that their institutions “are increasingly looking to establish or fortify bases for developing relationships with policymakers and grant writing government offices. UCLA’s president said she hopes the new campus will help UCLA “play a larger role in shaping federal policy “on a wide range of issues.
Another higher education spokesperson explained the universities’ presence in DC this way: “Between what’s going on in the political realm and what’s going on in the grant making world, it is becoming more competitive to get this federal funding, and these are huge parts of these campuses’ revenue streams…. They believe if they’re only planted in one spot, they’ll have less of a voice "
Or, as Willie Sutton might’ve put it, the universities are in Washington, DC, because that’s where the money is. Like crack addicts, American colleges are hooked on federal money, and they want to be closer to their supplier. Or, to use another analogy, the universities have become a bunch of hookers lined up on Pennsylvania Avenue—whores who will turn any trick for cash.
The colleges will say that their District of Columbia presence benefits students. In Washington, higher education leaders argue' students can learn the art of politics, policymaking, and grant writing.
I disagree. Washington, Like most American metropolises, is an increasingly dangerous place to live. Why would any student want to take out student loans to live in an expensive, crime-ridden city teaming with venal lobbyists, sociopathic politicians, and unelected bureaucrats who believe they have the divine right to tell Americans living in flyover country how to live their lives.
Moreover, a college education becomes more expensive with each passing year. Why should students pay for branch campuses in Washington, DC, which mainly exist to feed college leaders’ pathological hubris and grandiosity?