ABSTRACT

The main news Americans were taught about colleges during the last few Bush years was that they had been infected with a galloping moral disease, “political correctness.” Talking with academics across the country and visiting over twenty campuses, I came to think that the charges of PC were fundamentally a smokescreen designed to discredit higher education. Behind that screen, conservatives have implemented a well-orchestrated and well-financed campaign to cut budgets, downsize universities, and thus sharply restrict access to higher education. This process has particularly hurt the “new” student populations that began to arrive on campus late in the 1960s. More broadly, higher education in the United States is undergoing a revolution in structure and function as profound as that which, earlier in this century, converted it from the province primarily of a tiny group of white gentlemen into a broad-based institution of social inclusion.