LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Manchester professor takes issue with ‘War on College’ editorial

The myopic article by Teresa Mull, “War on College” Jan 23, relies on sweeping generalizations such as “what students are being taught at colleges is so far from true education, that it doesn’t deserve to be called ‘education'” and uses a single course at Williams College as an example of all college curricula.

She quotes Indrek Wichman, a professor of mechanical at Michigan State University who condemns a “phalanx of social justice warriors” for infiltrating and corrupting college courses. But that is not all her model professor has written. In a letter to the MSU Muslim Association, he wrote: “I counsel you dissatisfied, aggressive, brutal, and uncivilized slave-trading Moslems (sic) to be very aware of this as you proceed with your infantile ‘protests.’ If you do not like the values of the West . . . you are free to leave. I hope for God’s sake that most of you choose that option.” Intolerance in bold print!

Ms. Mull claims that “most college courses, when it comes to getting a job, are a waste of time. The liberal arts . . . have been perverted by progressives.” In that cynical generalization, she suggests that we have nothing to learn from Aristotle or Shakespeare or, for that matter, the founders of the American Republic. “Science, technology, engineering and math” she argues, “remain relatively unscathed by the left [and] don’t require years of study or thousands of dollars to master.” Tell that to a graduate student in physics!”

A final insulting generalization she claims that Americans are “fed up with the intolerant nonsense spewed at so many colleges and are turned off by the “ignorant, inept graduates these institutions produce.” That has certainly not been my experience. The liberal arts Ms. Mull condemns, equip graduates to think and express themselves clearly, have the skills to distinguish truth from falsehood. Through the study of languages, history, economics and world cultures a liberal education can graduate students who are tolerant and prepared to live productive lives in a rapidly changing global economy.

Sadly Ms. Mull calls for “war” on those values and possibilities.

— Dr. David Waas Emeritus Professor of History, Manchester University