The Boston Herald is a scrappy, politically conservative
tabloid that normally rants and rails against excessive regulations and good-for-nothing
government bureaucrats. Yet in an editorial on the Penn State child
molestations, titled “Keeping campuses safe,” the Herald called for a heavily expanded
bureaucratic response. It excoriated “the football program staff” of Penn State
who, quoting assertions in the Freeh Report, “had not been
trained in their Clery Act responsibilities and most had never heard of the
Clery Act,” a 1990 federal statute requiring colleges and universities to
report crimes that happen on or near their campuses. It is named for Jeanne
Clery, a Lehigh University freshman raped and murdered in her dorm in 1986.
Statutes named after victims of rare but spectacularly awful crimes are
especially likely to be overkill laws that cause unnecessary added bureaucracy and
dismal unforeseen consequences. Yet here was the Herald, which knows better, on the side of more regulation
when it came to universities. The army of advocates for increased
administration in higher education’s already bloated bureaucracies has landed
on the Penn State scandal with considerable gusto. Self-interest motivates many
of those who argue for more regulations and increased numbers of administrators
at Penn State, including the increased use of professionals who provide
“training” for campus student life administrators.
Continue reading After Awful Tragedies,
The Campus Bureaucracy Expands
Despite all of the rhetoric from our elected officials about their interest in containing college costs, every American should know that the legislation Congress passed last year reauthorizing the Higher Education Act significantly increases the cost of running a college, and therefore the cost of attending one.
By way of example, let’s look at the additional bureaucracy and administrative cost associated with just one of the many new institutional reporting requirements included in the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008. The provision requires institutions of higher education that participate in federal financial aid programs and maintain campus housing to develop a notification system to report students who have been missing from residence facilities for 24 hours.
This provision sets a dangerous precedent by radically expanding in loco parentis responsibilities of colleges and universities. Moreover, it constitutes yet another unfunded mandate imposed by Congress on institutions of higher education. But the real question that university administrators will now struggle with is how to differentiate between a student who is missing, which infers a sense of foul play or of being lost, and a student who is exercising the freedoms of adulthood and simply electing to spend 24 hours somewhere other than in her own room. Shocking as it may seem, college students on occasion venture off campus for parties, romance and even an occasional road trip, and oftentimes they don’t notify anyone in advance of their plans. Sometimes they don’t even have a plan, but simply let the day – and the night – unfold as it will.
Continue reading Missing The Point About Missing Students