Ideas in Progress: Basketball Players Protest, Rising College Tuition, and the Great Books

Take the time to understand each other’s opinion and respect it, a college basketball coach tells his players.


Ideas in Progress Newsletter

An Institute for Humane Studies Newsletter


How College Basketball Players Are Modeling Toleration and Free Expression

With half of Villanova University’s basketball team protesting the national anthem at the beginning of each game, Villanova’s coach has encouraged students to respect each other’s perspective. “[T]hat’s what we’re trying to teach our guys, take the time to understand each other’s opinion, respect it — you don’t have to like it — but understand it and respect it,” Coach Jay Wright says. Writing in USA Today, Jonathan Zimmerman, professor of education at University of Pennsylvania, praises the basketball teams at Villanova and University of Pennsylvania for showing other college students how toleration and free expression should be practiced. “I wish the rest of us would follow
them, instead of censoring viewpoints we don’t like,” Zimmerman writes. “Witness the burst of social media vitriol among conservatives, who have called on Penn and Villanova to discipline the protesting basketball players. Aren’t these the same people who rail against ‘cancel culture’ at our universities? And now they want to cancel the protesters? Meanwhile, liberals who praise the protesters for exerting their free speech rights often ignore or even endorse the many other restrictions on them: speech codes, anonymous bias-reporting systems and much else. They can’t have it both ways. If you support freedom for the players, you need to support it for everyone.” Zimmerman, a frequent partner with IHS, is featured in our short video on college free speech and spoke earlier this year at an IHS-sponsored event at University of Colorado Colorado Springs on his book “Free Speech and Why You Should Give a Damn.”

Read Jonathan Zimmerman’s op-ed in USA Today


IHS Senior Fellow on Rising College Tuition and Bureaucratization

The price of college enrollment nearly doubled between the mid-1990s and mid-2000s. In his column in The Week, IHS Senior Fellow Samuel Goldman explains that federal loans and grants have subsidized demand while simultaneously increasing regulatory burdens. “Anyone who’s passed Econ 101 can tell you the consequence of subsidized demand and constrained supply is rising prices,” Goldman writes. “And that’s exactly what happened, as the average price of a four-year degree zoomed beyond the median annual income.” To attract students willing to pay full sticker price, universities entered into an arms race over amenities and student services, Goldman explains, then curtailed tenure-track hiring in order to
pay for these services and administrators. “Most of the political negotiation on the modern campus occurs between customers [that is, students] and administrators, with faculty hardly to be seen,” Goldman says. “Whole institutions have been deformed by this reconfiguration of the academic enterprise around a novel brand of managerial progressivism. And so faculty of my generation are disillusioned, too.”

Read Samuel Goldman’s column in The Week


Rescuing Socrates: A Book Review

In his book “Rescuing Socrates,” Roosevelt Montas, a Dominican-born senior lecturer at Columbia University, explains how the great books transformed his life. IHS Senior Fellow Jonathan Marks reviews the book for the Washington Examiner, praising Montas for “articulat[ing] what is rarely articulated well about great books education. Great books speak to ‘human experiences we all share,’ but they also connect with us as particular individuals seeking to make sense of our lives.” Montas is the director of Columbia University’s Freedom and Citizenship program, which introduces low-income high school students to classic works including Socrates. Most of the program’s students are minorities;
most would be the first in their family to earn a college degree. “Rescuing Socrates” is, Marks writes, “a tribute to what the black thinker and activist W.E.B. Du Bois called the ‘contact of living souls’ at work on ‘the riddle of the world.’”

Read Jonathan Marks’ book review in The Washington Examiner


Preparing the Incarcerated for Post-Prison Life

The University of New Orleans has launched a Professional Preparedness program for incarcerated men and women nearing release. Graduates of the program will leave with a resume and a laptop courtesy of UNO’s Urban Entrepreneurship and Policy Institute. IHS Senior Fellow Chris Surprenant, director of the institute, says in a press release that “the goal of the program is to provide something of value to these people — and to our city as a whole — that will put them in the best position to not have future encounters with our criminal justice system.” The four-week program was facilitated by two UNO philosophy professors, JP Messina and Jake Monaghan, who are
both regular participants at IHS convenings. “This experience gives students a different perspective on the justice system,” Suprenant says, “while, at the same time, providing a valuable service to the people who are in our local jail and are nearing release.”

Read the University of New Orleans’ press release


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