How are millennial Republicans dealing with their party’s identity crisis?

For the free exchange of ideas

October 2017 issue

Campus conservatives in the Age of Trump

By Justin Henry

Donald Trump's ascendancy to the political forefront marks a conservative backlash against progressive and liberal norms of the American college campus. George Erhardt wrote in “Academics and the reproduction of cultural hegemony” that Trump’s election signifies Americans are turning against the race and gender politics of cultural critics in the academy, instead seeing it as character assassinations. In the place of left-wing hegemony, Erhardt advocates for a new counterculture of conservatism.

The academic Left will bring out their tired old smears and attack the ethics and motives of their opponents, but the election suggests that more and more Americans see those insults for the self-serving rhetoric they are,” Erhardt wrote. “For the sake of our students’ education, let’s make the most of this chance.”

After the McCarthy and Civil Rights eras, Republicanism had a bad name on college campuses as an unfeeling, antiquated and oppressive philosophy. The ratio of liberals to conservative professors grew ever since and conservative values of militarism and meritocracy became subject to critical academic discourse.

Efforts to make conservatism cool again, like in the Reagan era, has come from nonprofit organizations like Turning Point USA, Young American Foundations and the Leadership Institute, who understand college campuses for the cultural microcosms that they are. However, campus Republican activists are split along the same lines as the Republican Party as a whole—the grassroots establishment politics of Milo Yiannopoulos versus the elite intellectualism of William F. Buckley.

A study by Amy Binder, assistant professor in the department of sociology at the University of California at San Diego, and Kate Wood, an independent scholar, demonstrated the range of activist methods among campus Republicans, ranging from civil at midwestern public institutions to provocative at eastern private colleges.

Students at midwestern public institutions are galvanized by Breitbart News’ trolling approach gleefully demonstrating the extent of their free speech. On the east coast, students at private colleges take their cue from National Review’s attempts for honest debate.

The political discussions and upheavals during college are significant to a young person’s life. They reflect political engagement later in life, according to Binder and Wood’s analysis, as well as the current political moment.

“The tensions we see among students over populist provocation and elite civilized discourse are being played out not only on college campuses but in the highest levels of government decision making as well,” they wrote in their analysis.

Buckley’s movement versus Bannon’s movement

Catch and illegal day. Global warming beach party. Affirmative action bake sales. These are among the most popular methods conservatives use to promote their politics and test the limits of their free speech.

On March 14, the Illini Republicans at the University of Illinois held and affirmative action bake sale, according to the campus newspaper. The conservative group charged patrons discounted prices relative to white men based on their privilege, or lack thereof.

Honest attempt for dialogue or racist troll?

The Illini Republicans claimed they wanted to initiate a dialogue about race conscious admissions, a taboo topic on college campuses since the race of
many students is taken into account when they are accepted to college. When students are admitted based on their nominal merit alone, the conservative group claimed, all students receive the best suited education.

However, counter protesters, surrounding the bake sale to prevent patrons from making purchases, alleged the stunt was racist for dismissing the reality of institutional oppression.

Binder and Wood interviewed several conservative students for their study, many of whom organized such bake sales. Kody Anderson said provocative stunts like these are the most effective way to get their message out.

“If we had just released a press release saying, ‘by the way, we don’t support affirmative action,’ no one would have cared,” Aronson said. “The day we announced [the bake sale], I had about five newspapers call me for interviews… We got a lot of press coverage out of it, and that’s exactly what we wanted.”

Aronson’s all-press-is-good-press approach indicates he caught onto the Trump movement’s greatest asset: free news coverage for doing outrageous things.

On the east coast, student Republicans are more interested in engaging with their liberal and progressive counterparts in good faith. Instead of the affirmative action bake sale, they write newspaper columns and host debates with the student Democrats.

Sean Themea, former president of IC Young Americans for Liberty, criticized the affirmative action bake sale for its mean spirit and causing more division than unity. Instead, Themea staged demonstrations aimed to empower students and promote libertarianism.

“Students need to understand that the government’s not going to change the world,” Themea said. “They’re going to change the world.”

Waging an internet war

The Professor Watchlist was published online just weeks after Trump’s election with the mission statement of documenting any professor that discriminated against conservative students or use the classroom to promote leftist propaganda. Academics across the country took it as an intimidation tactic, similar to the anti-communist witch hunts of the Red Scare.

According to Matt Lamb, the manager of the watchlist, part of its purpose is to contribute to the online community or conservative students, marginalized by the alleged progressive hegemony in higher education. Lamb compared it to online support networks for LGBT or Muslim students.

Lamb’s push back against a perceived left wing dominance in the academy came in a long line of online communities of conservative students alleging an intolerant culture of leftism on their campus. Media outlets like Hypeline News, Campus Reform, The College Fix, Red Alert Politics and Turning Point News all criticize “social justice warriors” and highlight violence visited against fellow conservative students. “See “DeVos haters support her policies” and “Young Obama supporters not sure why they love him” for more details for some cringe-worthy moments.

Conservative foundations like Turning Point USA and the Leadership Institute have taken to all areas of civil society, including news outlets, to promote conservatism on college campuses. These journalistic outlets are for conservative readers as well as writers, providing an alternative to a campus newspaper running a left-wing narrative.

“Conservatives as a whole have a deep distrust for the media and they have a deep distrust for education,” Slater said.

Sam Mariscal, Regional Field Coordinator for the Leadership Foundation and contributor to Campus Reform, said online news outlets are for students who want to be active in the conservative movement but not in campus activism. If they write an exceptionally good article, Mariscal said they have the chance to be driven into Fox studios in New York of Washington D.C. as a correspondent, all expenses paid.

This community of media outlets has formed an informational network that shares published information. For example, Turning Point USA, a foundation committed to promoting conservatism on college campuses, published the Professor Watchlist which doesn’t conduct any of its own journalistic research. Instead, it relies on previously published information from Turning Point News and Campus Reform, a news outlet published by the Leadership Institute.

This divide in activist styles is rooted in the disagreements between the various foundations sponsoring the media production and activism—TPUSA, LI and the Young Americans Foundation.

TPUSA has the more inflammatory material, Slater said, inviting speakers like Tomi Lahren and dawning stickers and t-shirts that say “socialism sucks” in the same formatting as Bernie Sanders’ campaign posters. YAF and LI focus on the intellectual content of conservatism, inviting speakers like Dennis Prager.

Slater, while identifying closer with YAF’s intellectualism, said tactics used by both are effective to conservative messaging. While tabeling for IC Republicans, Slater said he would catch people’s eye with a sticker from TPUSA but inform students with what he learned from YAF.

“We’ll use the ‘socialism sucks’ sticker on our table to catch their eye,” he said. “Then I use the YAF talking point to keep them informed and have them go to their class more prepared to be a part of this discussion.”

The Leadership Institute has a similar mission to YAF focusing on the intellectual sphere of conservatism rather than provocative branding.

“We’re really interested in training young conservatives to win on principle and to win for principal,” Mariscal said.

In the end, Mariscal said conservative students benefit the most in as an intellectual minority. If they choose to engage with their left of center classmates rather than troll them, they have the chance to strengthen their foundational values and refine their argument skills.

“On campus, conservatives are facing threats and arguments and they’re the ones coming out a little sharper,” he said. “Everyday, they’re being told ‘you’re racist, you’re a bigot’ and everyday they’re learning how to rearticulate their points.”


For the free exchange of ideas

October 2017 issue

Sophomore leads first campus initiative for Jockey Being Family




Creative Nonfiction


IC Chronicle

For the free exchange of ideas

October 2017 issue

Sophomore leads first campus initiative for Jockey Being Family

By Justin Henry

For sophomore Adrienne Smith, being adopted never defined her relationship with her parents. However, the social stigma surrounding adoption demeans it to “second best” behind biological parenting, she said. She recalled a time when her friend called his brother adopted as a joke, implying he was beneath him in the ranking of siblings.

“Adoption isn’t second best,” Smith said. “It’s another pathway to creating a family.”

In the wake of a campus community confronting a lack of diversity and inclusion, Smith said students who were adopted face microaggressions, subtle and unintended offenses against people from marginalized or misunderstood groups.

“When it comes to diversity and inclusion, adoption should be talked about as well,” Smith said. “There are a lot of unknowns when it comes to adopted students.”

Smith, adopted from Seoul, South Korea when she was six months old, felt an instant connection with Jockey International Inc.’s philanthropic project, Jockey Being Family (JBF), whose mission statement is to increase the number of successful adoptions by networking with agencies. She was first introduced when one of the clothing line's catalogues featured a mixed-race family in the fall of 2016. Smith, a model herself, had been turned down by casting directors looking for father-daughter shoots after learning her dad was caucasian. 

After a few video chats with JBF's marketing planner Kim Salli, Smith volunteered to bring the organization to Ithaca College as its first campus ambassador. Salli, taken with Smith’s passion and determination, said their first conversation initiated a professional, as well as a personal, connection.

“Within five minutes of our talk, I knew I wanted [Adrienne] in the foundation,” Salli said. “If not, then just as a friend.”

Smith first turned to her roommate, sophomore Irina Noonan and fellow television-radio production major, to take on the role of vice president. Noonan, who was adopted from Russia when she was five months old, said the project felt like home.

“I want to help Adrienne out in any sense that she needs,” Noonan said. “She’s a very hard worker and she always has to keep herself busy.”

As vice president, Noonan manages the organization’s social media to help spread awareness of JBF’s mission. One advantage of working with her roommate and close friend, Noonan said, is that she can help Smith get past any personal concerns and help her focus her attention on JBF’s initiatives.

“I can always tell when something is off,” Noonan said. “I can help take on some of that stress.”

JBF’s mission is to minimize the 10 percent of adoptions ending in the child’s return to foster care by providing post adoption support, according to JBF’s catalog, in the form of funding and volunteers. By providing post adoption support, they complement the work of foundations like the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, which helps children living in foster care find permanent homes.

“Many families who adopt face extra challenges and are in need of post adoption support, to help their family remain strong,” according to JBF’s About Us page on their website.

With the right support, the site said families can provide a permanent home for children awaiting a nurturing family or what the foundation terms “forever families”.

Smith’s goal on campus is also ending the stigmatization surrounding adoption and providing a network of support for students who were adopted. She said she always had a positive relationship with her parents. However, for many children and parents, the topic of adoption becomes a source of resentment and alienation, especially if the child confronts hurtful microaggressions.

“A common trend I see is not being able to talk about [adoption] and not being able to share these thoughts,” Smith said. “It’s good to have a place to share those thoughts and ideas.”

For Noonan, her adoption was openly discussed since childhood. She said her adopted mother was sure to include her biological mother during evening prayers, thanking her for giving life to Noonan.

However, she has endured her share of adoption jokes, including allegations she is a Russian spy and she is affiliated with Vladimir Putin and the KGB.

“I usually don’t say anything but it’s definitely not necessary,” Noonan said.

Smith’s enthusiasm has garnered positive support from the campus community as she discovered during this semester’s organization fair on Sept. 6 when she collected over 100 names of interested students. Throughout the day, she connected with numerous students who were also adopted, but equally enthusiastic were non-adopted students.

Noonan attributed campus enthusiasm to her roommate’s natural charisma and passion when talking about JBF to other students.

In the coming months, Smith’s agenda is filled with promoting awareness of JBF. She will be networking with with local adoption agencies and foster homes. With President Shirley Collado, she will be working to install a fundraising drive in the campus bookstore. JBF’s teddy bears, taglined “buy a bear, help a family”, will be sold at the checkout desk, the proceeds for which support the organization.

The first person to be honored with purchasing the first bear, Smith said, will be Collado herself.

Activist professors in the Age of Trump

Illustration by Adriana Del Grosso

IC Chronicle

For the free exchange of ideas

October 2017 issue

Illustration by Adriana Del Grosso

Activist professors in the Age of Trump

By Ashley Stalnecker

Cultural critic Henry Giroux laid out the reformist professor’s duty in a lecture at the MacPherson Institute. Giroux said teaching should inspire a “radical democratic project” that rejects a society characterized by inequality, degradation to the environment and the elevation of war and militarization to national ideals.

“Under such circumstances, education becomes more than an obsession with accountability schemes, an audit culture of market values and an unreflected immersion in crude empiricism in a data obsessed, market-driven society,” Giroux said. “It provides the foundation for a world in which thoughtlessness prevails.”

Giroux described these qualities as laying the groundwork for the country’s submission to Donald Trump’s right-wing authoritarianism.

For progressive academics, the 2016 election was the harbinger of an anti-humanistic Trumpocalypse with a hatred for liberal arts not seen since the McCarthy era. Many take their cue from critical pedagogy and the writings of Brazilian educator Paolo Freire.

While teaching impoverished Brazilians to resist European imperialism in the 1960s, Freire wrote “Pedagogy of the Oppressed”, a manifesto to create an egalitarian model of education. Critical pedagogy calls for a radical re-thinking of the traditional learning dynamic between student and teacher.

The text describes a one-way “banking model” of teaching where the teacher deposits knowledge into the students’ minds which, Freire theorized, maintains the oppressive imperial conditions imposed by European colonialism. In its place, Freire advocates for equality between student and professor as adventurers achieving truth.

During the 1980s, Freire maintained correspondence with pioneering critical pedagogists, most notably Henry Giroux and bell hooks. Since then it has had enormous impact on training courses for teachers in the attempts by critical pedagogues to resist the neoliberal restructuring of the university, according to Melanie Lawrence in “Beyond the Neoliberal Imaginary.”

Neoliberalism refers to the marketization of public goods and services thought to exist for the good of society. In higher education professors call this the commodification of the university.

“Critical educators are advocating for change and the significance of challenging neoliberalism becomes our quest for the direction of an alternative logic; one that challenges the conservative neoliberal imaginary, treasures the narratives of all people as originally promised through democracy, and critically examines both how and for who quality education is organised,” Lawrence wrote in her abstract.

A study by David Steiner and Susan Rozen found critical Freire’s and Giroux’s work are among the most commonly required texts in education courses at 14 of the top ranked universities in the nation according to U.S. News and World Report.

In the United States, the book has been harshly criticized among conservative pundits as well as mainstream academics. In Gerald Graffe’s Radical Teacher, Graff said this pedagogy ironically confines students to thinking through a narrow neo-Marxist lens.

“What right do we have to be the self-appointed political conscious of our students?” Graff asked. “Given the inequality in power and experience between students and teacher (even teachers from disempowered groups) students are often justifiably afraid to challenge our political views even if we beg them to.”

Ithaca College’s own Sherry Deckman, professor in the department of education, has found new ways to engage students in her classes through Freire’s theories. In a blog post “Engaging Students as co-instructors”, Deckman wrote that involving the insights of her students has made for more enriching class sessions.

Just as Freire envisioned, critical pedagogy has moved countless academics to radical democratic activism. But professors at Ithaca College and Cornell University are not only dedicated to getting involved in the political turmoil of the time period; they are interested in getting the youth involved too.

Cornell historian Russell Rickford focuses his research on black radical tradition in the United States. Rickford is one of the founding members of the Ithaca chapter of Black Lives Matter. In an email he wrote that his political activism and scholarship go hand in hand.

“It is absurd to suggest that one’s own experiences and outlooks do not dramatically shape one’s pedagogical style, approaches, and priorities,” Rickford wrote. “Those who are able to claim such ‘objectivity’ are usually individuals who enjoy the greatest power and status under white supremacist patriarchy. The ‘objectivity’ of a white male classicist is rarely if ever questioned because Eurocentrism is hegemonic.”

Rickford views his responsibility as one to help move people toward engagement and activism. As Karl Marx suggested, intellectuals need to change the world, not just understand it, he said.

All the world’s a classroom

Michael Twomey retired from his job as an English professor at Ithaca College at the end of the Spring 2016 semester to pursue the path of becoming a climate lobbyist. As he works his way to becoming a full climate lobbyist, he has been doing small jobs to make a large impact with the Citizen’s Climate Lobby.

“We have people who lobby in Congress by going to talk with congress-people but the local chapters like ours do a lot behind the scenes in terms of phone calling congress-people,” Twomey said. “We go to town meetings. We write letters to Congress people and we do all that we can to bring new members in, educate people about climate change.”

So far, Twomey has called congressman Tom Reed’s office to talk with his staffers and written a letter to the editor that was published in the Ithaca journal.

Citizen’s Climate Lobby has built a name for itself of bipartisanship, appealing to Republican economic interests and Democratic interests of sustainability. The group proposed a carbon fee on oil companies that produce carbon through importing, manufacturing and drilling.

The carbon fee would collect money from all of these producers of extractors or importers. Twomey said this is distinct from a tax in that the purpose of a tax is not to raise money for the government. Instead, the fee would then would be returned to taxpayers.

“The net cost of governing doesn’t increase because we’re using the IRS and so it’s economically efficient,” Twomey said.

Twomey said the second part of the lobby’s work is to convince congress-people to join an organization in the House that’s called the Climate Solutions Caucus, formed by Republicans and Democrats. Twomey said in order to join, a congress-person can only join with someone in the other party.

Twomey believes it’s important that people get involved in the near future as politics change and intensify.

“I’m concerned,” he said. “I think that it’s important for ordinary people to step up and do what they can because what I’m seeing is that the government is in a state of disarray.”

Meanwhile, politics Professor Patricia Rodriguez has been working with Tompkins County Immigrants Rights Coalition. Although largely inactive since 2005, the group has reinvigorated since the 2016 election.

The group was originally developed to pass a comprehensive immigration policy that creates a path for legalization for immigrants. When the policy failed, the group died down until the 2016 election and Trump’s discriminate travel ban.

Now, Rodriguez is working with the group to create a rapid response network to document the government’s search and deportation of immigrants. They are working on a hotline that will allow an immigrant to contact the coalition and have the group show up at their doorstep or wherever needed to document their arrest. The group does not have the power to stop the arrest but they come as a sign of support and solidarity as well as witnesses.

When the group is called, they will film, take photos, and write down information that might later be needed in legal proceedings. They serve as witnesses to make sure what is going on is verifiable and not imagined or based on assumptions.

Since the summer, the network has become a group of more than 50 people. The hotline is currently in the process of being tested and the number should be available by mid-September.

Meanwhile, Rodriguez is doing everything she can to get her students, and the youth in general, involved in activism.

“I think the youth are key to be involved in different groups, different organizations, that try to bring about change,” says Rodriguez. “The world is there for their grabbing.”

She thinks it is important that the youth pay attention to what is happening politically and socially to issues such as racism, bigotry and violence. She said that not only those issues are important, but the youth should be made aware of the different socio-economic classes and different styles of living that are unequal.

“I think that youth need to be confronted with that and just begin to think in ways that perhaps they never have about solutions to that,” Rodriguez said.

As a professor, she believes that her most influential work is giving students such information.

“To me I think that the influence of the work I do is to have a different type of thinking that is not individualistic, that is collective,” Rodriguez says. “And to bring students into that conversation as well, to get students out of the classroom, to be engaged in something that is real, that I feel like everyone can have an impact on.”

Despite all the negatives in politics lately, Rodriguez still has an optimistic view on the future.

“I’m involved in [activism] because I see a lot of hope,” she says. “I have a lot of hope for change to happen. I have a lot of hope that people in the end will think about other people more, rather than just the

For the free exchange of ideas

From the Professor Watchlist homepage.

2017 Writing Department Contest

"The Watchlist has its eyes on you"

Part II: Financial meltdown and recovery

Illustration by Adriana Del Grosso

By Justin Henry, Editor in chief

“Fundamentally, organizations will face significant choices about capital investment, appropriate staffing levels and prudent endowment spending policies in an environment where little about the future can be predicted with confidence.” – Moody’s Investor Service commenting on the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis

The story of Ithaca College’s split community begins with the crash of the housing market in 2008 when the college’s finances were devastated. The endowment, the college’s savings fund, decreased by one-third—from 237.3 to 150.0 million dollars—by the spring of 2009. The college lost much of its expected tuition revenue since many middle income families couldn’t afford the steep cost of tuition even with the college’s unprecedented discount rate of 36.1 percent.

The discount rate measures the average percentage of a student’s tuition the college discounts. A 36.1 percent discount rate in 2009 amounted to nearly 68 million dollars which the college doesn’t receive in tuition income.

In the years following the market-meltdown, the college faced declining rates of students who could pay the climbing price of admission. This posed a tremendous challenge to the administration to maintain a competitively low cost of attendance while keeping the college afloat.

The Office of Business and Finance had to reckon with a tension between tuition and discount rate. The budget for the 2012-13 academic year reports that the college attempted to create an image of “prestige” for itself by aggressively raising the cost of attendance while offering high discount rates.

This proved to be a misfire, however, since the college lost about 3 million dollars in tuition revenue. Without knowledge of the college’s established discount rates, parents simply refused to pay the high cost of attendance.

This was a pivotal moment for the college’s current “corporate” identity: the administration discovered its greatest appeal to prospective students was a competitively low cost of attendance and high rates of discount. All cost cutting would then be justified by the goal of reducing tuition increases from year to year and offering high rates of discount.

Since the 2009-10 fiscal year, when a discount rate of 36.1 percent shocked the budgeting team, financial aid has nearly doubled to over 120 million dollars, equal to a 45 percent discount rate for the 2017-18 academic year.

In order to liberate itself from enrollment dependency, the administration has made efforts to diversify its income by courting donors and adding funds to the endowment. Healthy colleges regularly depend upon charitable donors, especially alumni, which for Ithaca College has led to the establishment of the college’s most richly endowed programs—for example the Park School of Communication and the Park Center for Business and Sustainable Enterprise.

Ithaca College isn’t alone in its attempt to keep tuition low and raise discount rate; the college’s efforts correspond to a similar nationwide trend, according to a study by Cornell University Economist Ronald Ehrenberg entitled “American Higher Education in Transition”. At all but the wealthiest institutions with the most economic freedom, the average discount rate climbed by an average of 26.7 percent in 1990 to 42 percent in 2008, according to Ehrenberg’s study.

Due to sharply decreasing rates of student enrollment in recent years, the narrative for the 2017-18 academic year budget predicts the college will be left with only 233 thousand dollars after its expenses by the end of the 2017-18 academic year, compared previous years when the college’s net revenue always exceeded 10 million dollars.

Tom Rochon entered as the college’s 8th president in the spring of 2008, just months before the college would undergo financial trauma. Rochon’s administration was immediately tasked with “strategically re-imagining” the college’s future—to somehow secure the college’s sources of revenue while continuing to deliver quality education to students. These goals were first attempted by in the Integrative Core Curriculum (ICC), originally called “IC squared”, which grew into the colossus IC 20/20.

In the beginning, IC 20/20’s rhetoric from the college’s Board of Trustees was one of optimism and gratitude to the campus community for uniting behind the college’s new vision. This was expressed by the Board of Trustees’ constitution which ratified the implementation of the college’s new plan, “IC 20/20: Focusing Our Vision on Student Learning.”

“We expect that with the accomplishment of this vision, Ithaca College will augment its reputation, increase its organizational alignment, sustain operational excellence, and be widely known as the home of a distinctive and valuable model of higher education,” declared the preamble.

The ideal IC 20/20 model was intended to fulfill all the qualities of a financially healthy college: administrators “invest” in student-centered educational features, and IC 20/20 and the ICC deliver a dynamic and integrative learning experience, thereby securing student income. By cultivating a faithful student body, the college would ensure long-term financial security by growing its alumni network, said Chris Biehn, vice president of institutional advancement. Robust alumni networking is a key feature of any financially sustainable college.

“The more we enhance the student experience, the more you have a successful alumni body, the more successful you’ll be as a college but you also do well in the world and that’s what we want,” Biehn said.

All expenses would then be evaluated in terms of its contribution of this new reimagined student experience, Biehn said. If they didn’t contribute, then their funds must be reallocated to areas of the budget which did support the vision.

“We are always looking at all the resources and looking for ways to strategically allocate them to the student experience,” Biehn said. “We’re always making tradeoffs.”

For example, if a certain academic program doesn’t have sufficient students enrolling, whose tuition payments would support hiring a full-time, tenured-track faculty member, the college may fill that position with a contingent faculty member and save hundreds of thousands of dollars on a long-term scale. That money will then support new staffing for the ICC, IC 20/20 or financial aid.

This is how IC 20/20 became a financial vortexby investing in efforts to secure student tuition and build its alumni network, the college had less funding to support the academic careers of professors. The college community then revolts against this perceived dehumanization of the academic experience while the college sees devastating drops in student enrollment. The college must cut more costs and invest in student retention leaving them with greater expenses and less net income.

For the 2017-18 academic year, the Office of Business and Finance, currently led by Vice President Janet Williams, plans to invest $1.8 million dollars in mental health resources for students and technological resources for administrators, a combined effort from the college to retain students.

Click here to read Part III: Market values and human values

Editorial: Echo chambers of the liberal college

For the free exchange of ideas

October 2017 issue

Echo chambers at the liberal college

By Justin Henry

We cannot make any progress bridging our college’s tumultuous divides unless we are willing to confront fundamental assumptions of our ideologies.

Do you remember your first classes where you had a vague sense all the cool kids sat at the Bernie Sanders table? You highlighted aspects of your beliefs that signaled you weren’t a racist, sexist homophobe. If you’re a young man you might have let everybody know you were aware of your male privilege and alert other men to their own.

We are the children of World War II baby boomers, for whom capitalism was synonymous with freedom and socialism was synonymous with government enslavement. We began to sympathize with ideas we never thought of before. Like how the white capitalist hetero-patriarchy continuously reconstructs itself to suppress uprisings against it. We feel compelled to join the fight because we are told there is no neutrality in situations of injustice.

Much to the surprise of our parents, we came home during break with a critical Marxist analysis of society from an English gen-ed. It’s because we finally realized how blindness to our privilege has aided in maintaining oppressive power structures and now we have a lot of repenting to do.

Although I am left of center in my voting style, I am concerned about the intellectual bigotry which forms in an echo chamber, where our perception of leftist orthodoxy becomes restricted to a narrow corner of the political spectrum and certain ideas become heretical. College is a place where young people should be free to develop their viewpoints without beguilement or bullying from professors or students.

I’m talking about when people test your allyship so you feel compelled to join political causes for which you have no genuine conviction. So you avoided the social suicide of speaking up and being labeled as racist, sexist or otherwise bigoted. This is how any ideology can resist honest vetting and become naturalized into an environment like Ithaca College.

There are many ways to learn which don’t relegate you to a certain identity politic. These ideas should be critically vetted in a college institution—after all, it’s your time, your money and your college experience; nobody gets to make up your political mind for you.

Conservative activists like Pat Buchanan and Jordan Peterson believe the liberal university indoctrinates young people into communist, anti-Western dogma, an idea that is laughable to the accused professors and students. No one thinks of their viewpoints as just another partisan ideology but as a code of ethics that has transcended partisan politics to academic righteousness.

If nobody challenges the fundamental assumptions of our worldview, we cease to become free-thinking liberals but high-priests of political dogma as we submit ourselves to mob rule. We become bigoted ideologues, urging the “sheeple” to wake up to the democracy, all the while being herded ourselves. Like the hero of a Greek tragedy, we become the very thing we set out to defeat.

Conservative activists like Pat Buchanan and Jordan Peterson believe the liberal university indoctrinates young people into communist, anti-Western dogma, an idea that is laughable to the accused professors and students. 

There is a twist of irony to the integration of critical theory in classes in the humanities and social sciences. “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” by Paolo Freire described an egalitarian model of learning which rejects European traditionalism and frees students from its “banking model”. Originally intended to liberate students from the western bourgeois mentality, critical Marxist theory has itself become a constraining dogma.

I suggest we get back to the core foundations of critical analysis and to continue to question the status quo of the academy in all its complexities.

For the free exchange of ideas

October 2017 issue

From Medieval classics to climate activism




Creative Nonfiction


IC Chronicle

For the free exchange of ideas

October 2017 issue

From Medieval classics to climate change

Keeping up with former English professor Michael Twomey

Michael Twomey retired from the departments of classical studies and English at the end of the Spring 2017 semester. During his 37-year career at Ithaca College, he taught courses like Literature of the Bible and Medieval Literature.

Twomey’s teaching career concluded at the end of the Spring 2017 semester when he left to pursue a new life as a climate lobbyist with the Citizens Climate Lobby. Ashley Stalnecker, layout and design editor, spoke with Twomey about his training as a climate lobbyist and activism in the age of Trump.

How long have you been involved in activism?

Michael Twomey: Since last fall. I joined the Citizens’ Climate Lobby maybe a year before that… I was just a member and didn’t really do anything but last fall I actually got active. So, that’s the one organization I’m involved in.

“Our consistently respectful, non-partisan approach to climate education is designed to create a broad, sustainable foundation for climate action across all geographic regions and political inclinations.” - Citizen’s Climate Lobby

Were you involved in activism before the Trump administration?

MT: I wouldn’t say wasn’t involved. I was definitely paying attention and I was studying climate change and I was writing about climate change in my scholarship but I wasn’t actually politically active until the election.

Once the election started heating up and once Trump was elected especially, I got seriously involved in the Citizens’ Climate Lobby because of his appointment of Scott Pruit as director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and because of the things [Trump] was saying; his denial of Climate Change.

Share some of your experiences training as a lobbyist

MT: I’m sort of in the pre-lobbyist path, doing the phone calling, the town meetings, writing letters to the editor and presentations to public groups. That’s still a long way from being an actual lobbyist but that does mean that I’m supporting the organization and working toward sensible climate practices through it.

It’s a process. Not everyone is asked to be a lobbyist. We’ll see whether that happens or not but I also realize there’s a special set of personal skills that those people have. They have to be extremely knowledgeable for one thing. I don’t think that’s a problem for me, but there’s also this ability to talk to strangers and really get them to understand you and that’s a really rare gift. We’ll see if I have that or not.

How has the scene for activism changed since Trump was elected?

What I’ve noticed, and what I’ve been reading about, is that many many more people, private individuals who previously were not politically active have become politically active in all kinds of organizations.

People are, to a certain extent, stepping up either by just giving contributions to organizations like Sierra Club or with actual political actions ranging from protesting in the streets to working behind the scenes which is pretty much what I do in the Citizens Climate lobby.

You probably saw the Women’s March the day after the Inauguration. That’s a pretty good indication of people’s involvement... I’ve just seen lots more of that since the election than I did before.

Why do you involve yourself with activism and what does it mean to you?

I thought about this pretty hard. Especially after the election I realized there were so many things that needed attention but I also realized that I couldn’t possibly get involved in all of them so I made a decision to just focus my attention on one issue and to join an organization that is actually making progress on that issue.

For example, health insurance, social security, Medicare, immigration, women’s issues and then climate—all of these things are important to me but I had experience in the environment so I decided that’s where I had the most knowledge and that’s where I could actually make a difference.

I joined the Citizens’ Climate Lobby because...I wanted to focus on that one issue but...because I think it’s a really really good model of political activism should do.

“I realized there were so many things that needed attention but I also realized that I couldn’t possibly get involved in all of them so I made a decision to just focus my attention on one issue.” - Michael Twomey

MT: When you think of lobbying, you imagine these shady characters with briefcases full of cash lurking around…Congress, bribing congressmen but we don’t pay money. We lobby in the sense that we do talk with congressmen. And one issue we talk about is climate change. And one issue that we have is what we call a carbon fee and dividend.

This proposal is that the government would charge a fee on oil companies that produce carbon: For example, extraction, which would be through mining or drilling; importing, so that when you import goods that have been manufactured in such a way to release carbon into the atmosphere; and manufacturing itself. So, that just about covers all the ways that carbon is released into the atmosphere.

CO2 of the major greenhouses gases, the other being methane. What the carbon fee does is it collects money from all of these producers of extractors or importers but it’s different from a tax in that the purpose of a tax is to raise money for the government. We’re not doing that. What we’re doing is collecting a fee which then would be returned to taxpayers and that’s the dividend part. So, we don’t raise money for the government; the net cost of governing doesn’t increase because we’re using the IRS and so it’s economically efficient.

The bottom line for this is that this idea has been gaining traction among Republicans. The second part of our activism is that we talk with congresspeople and we try to get them to join an organization in the House that’s called the Climate Solutions Caucus….It was formed by two, a Republican and a Democrat...but we do a lot to promote it. The rule about that is if you’re a congressperson and you want to belong to this caucus then you have to get a member of the other party to join with you so there’s always an equal number of Republicans and Democrats in the Caucus.

“The Caucus will serve as an organization to educate members on economically-viable options to reduce climate risk and protect our nation’s economy, security, infrastructure, agriculture, water supply and public safety,” according to documents filed with the Committee on House Administration.

Right now there are 52 people in this Caucus altogether which is double the amount at the beginning of the year. So, membership of this Caucus is growing and includes our local Congressman, Tom Reed, for the twenty-third district which is where Ithaca is. What’s notable about that is he was one of the first Republicans to come out in favor of Donald Trump. And yeah, there is that he’s a conservative Republican who’s opposed to raising taxes and he has done a lot that indicates that he might be a climate change denier but, on the other hand, he’s in favor of a healthy environment and he’s in favor of creating jobs. By promoting the carbon fee in dividends, what we’re doing is indirectly promoting the growth of renewables and that’s something Tom Reed is actually in favor of because it means more jobs for people in New York State.

In a nutshell, that is what we do. We have people who lobby in Congress by going to talk with congresspeople but the local chapters like ours do a lot behind the scenes in terms of phone calling congress people. We go to town meetings. We write letters to congresspeople and we do all that we can to bring new members in, educate people about climate change.

What was your best and worst experiences with activism on your own and with the organization?  

MT: There is one thing that I think is a really great indication of what we’re capable of. In July, a bill came before Congress for military appropriations. This bill specifically called for cutting military research on climate change. The bill that was supposed to be rushed through Congress.

The Citizens’ Climate Lobby has a special group within it called the Climate and Security Action team. Within half an hour, this Climate and Security Action team mobilized, calling Congress people and helped to drum up enough votes. I shouldn’t say they did it all by themselves because there were already a number of Republicans and Democrats that wanted to vote this thing down. They wanted to restore the Climate Study funding to the bill.

So enough people voted against the bill that it had to be revised and passed with the funding intact for climate study. I think that’s a really good example of what this organization can do. So, that means the money for climate study was kept in the military appropriations bill...The army wanted this, by the way. They want climate study because they’re really really aware of what climate change can mean from a military point of view.

When you join the organization, you start at the bottom. This means that you’re taught about how to write letters to congresspeople, how to call them, what to say, what not to say. It’s really a training experience that you get. I have been working with a biologist and the two of us have given presentations, one at Cornell and one at Ithaca College. In the Cornell presentation, essentially, I didn’t say anything because it was my first presentation so I just watched and observed. At the presentation at Ithaca College, I did actually speak for about 10 minutes and then I turned it over to the biologist. So, I’m being given more and more responsibility in terms of the public.

For me, I can see that I’ve learned some things about how to talk to people and I’m working on getting to the point where I can make a presentation by myself. So that means I don’t have any great accomplishments to point to at this point because this is a very disciplined organization in which they just don’t let you out in front of the public unless you’re a known commodity and you can be relied on to do the job properly. I’m a college professor. I’ve been talking to students for a long time, and even so, I still have to start at the bottom and that’s one of the things I just really like about this organization. They’re not just taking chances by letting people run wild in public and ruin the reputation of the organization.

In terms of accomplishments, what have I done? I’ve called Tom Reed’s office and I’ve talked with his staffers a couple of times and that’s gone very well. I got a letter to the editor published in the Ithaca Journal. These are pretty small accomplishments but they mean something to me.

One of the things we do at the monthly meetings is what we call motivational interviewing. The idea behind this is to practice talking with non-members but specifically people who are either ignorant to climate change or in complete denial about it. And it’s a really interesting exercise and it’s incredibly frustrating because I have spent most of my time talking to people who agree with me. If I talk to fellow professors or even members of my family, because my family is all Democratic and liberal, everyone I talk to essentially understands climate change and agrees that we have to do something about it and is trying to do something. When you actually try to talk to somebody who is opposed to renewable, who is in favor of mining coal, what do you say to them? And so, those exercises have been the most frustrating because suddenly i’ll find myself completely unable to function.

The way that we do this is somebody pretends to be a climate change denier so you have to try talking to this person. This person is hitting you with all the usual talking points of climate change denial. And, you know, I thought, it’s really really hard to break through that and it’s frustrating for me.

What is your prediction for the next four years and the general future of American politics?

MT: I voted for Hillary Clinton and when I went to bed on election night, I was positive that the following morning we would have the first female president and I was totally wrong about that so don’t ask me for predictions. I don’t feel like I can make predictions right now.

I’m concerned. I think that it’s important for ordinary people to step up and do what they can because what I’m seeing is that the government is in a state of disarray. And although there are many people of good will who want to do the right thing, there are many people who don’t care in the government, people who don’t care to do the right thing. They have their agenda, and so i can’t predict what’s gonna happen. I just hope that more people step up and more people turn this around.

What is your goal in your activism?

MT: The ultimate goal is to get this carbon fee and dividend passed as a law. That would be great. That’s my personal goal, that’s the organization’s goal, so that’s what I would really like to do.

Then, we’ll see what happens after that but that’s the immediate goal. That’s why I really like the organization because it has a very specific and focused goal and it has very practical ways to achieve that goal and we’re working in the right direction. It seems like it’s happening. It’s all positive so far.

How did you get involved in environmentalism and lobbying and why?

MT: It starts with one of my kids. I have two daughters. The second one has always been an environmentalist, at least in terms of her interests… She went to school to be a landscape architect so she and I used to talk about the environment and she got interested in what is called sustainable landscape design.

The idea is that when you design a landscape, let’s say it’s a park, then it has to be sustainable which means that you have to develop ways for it to collect water by itself thus using more water. Or you use sustainable materials; if you’re building park benches or playgrounds, sustainably harvested materials.

I started to get really interested in that just by talking with her because she was learning all kinds of interesting ways to use renewables and to save water... From there I discovered a movement in literary criticism called “ecocriticism” which studies human responses to the environment. I started to write about that.

“In such areas as the study of narrative and image, ecocriticism converges with its sister disciplines in the humanities: environmental anthropology, environmental history, and environmental philosophy.” - Literature and Environment, Harvard University

From there it was only a short step to finding out about the Citizens Climate Lobby. It was actually a colleague of mine, Nancy Jacobson, in the biology department who actually I met at a climate change workshop and she started talking to me about the Citizens Climate Lobby and she urged me to join. She brought me into it.

Can you share any more experiences with activism?

MT: This summer I spent a fair amount of time in Germany. One of the things that I wanted to look at is I wanted to see what Germany is doing for sustainability and I was really blown away… First of all, the transportation is really really good. You can go just about anywhere on a train, or if not on a train, then on a bus so most people who live in cities don’t really need cars but Germany does have cars because they are just as much a car culture as the U.S. is…. But, their cars are much more efficient. Very few people drive SUVs. Gasoline is very expensive because it’s taxed so heavily. All of that is good for the environment and we could learn from that.

Another thing is that when you drive through the countryside or take the train through the countryside, you see windmills producing electricity all over the place. It seems as if they have a lot fewer objections to the sight of windmills in the landscape. It’s just amazing that wherever you go there they are.

And the other thing is I saw many more solar farms than we have in this country—really big solar farms and people with solar panels on their roofs. So they’re doing a lot to cut down on their solar emissions… It’s a very densely populated country but the air is extremely clean and the streams are very clean. Countries like Denmark are shooting to be They do a lot more for environmental protection than we do in this country.

100 percent sustainable by the middle of the century and they’re getting really close. And Chile. The amount of sustainable energy produced in Chile is skyrocketing. They’re going to be 100 percent renewable within a couple of years at the rate they’re going. So, what I found really discouraging is how kind of willfully ignorant so many Americans are about change and about the possibilities that sustainability offer for us.

Part V: “A fight for the soul of the university”: the unionization of contingent faculty

By Justin Henry, Editor in chief

“If there are any students reading this who are hoping to become professors, please understand that the struggle of contingent faculty at Ithaca College is not only about us — we are also fighting for the future of academia, which we have entered willingly because we love and value knowledge, and consider teaching a noble profession. That profession is under existential threat right now across the country, and needs to be defended by anyone who cares for it — faculty, students and administrators.” – IC faculty union member Tom Schneller in commentary published by The Chronicle

There is a specter haunting the administrative university. Professors have awoken from corporate compliance and allied with a new proletariat class—contingent faculty—against a workplace culture increasingly hostile to the process of research and publishing.

Part-time contingent faculty at Ithaca College—lecturers, adjuncts and instructors—are hired on short-term contracts and cannot work more than 12 credits per academic year. Full-time contingent professors or “n-tens” can work the full-credit course load of 24 credits per year but are not on a pathway to achieve tenure, the highest job security attainable by a college professor.

Many contingent faculty, perhaps 20 years ago, would have attained a tenure-track position shortly after achieving their PhD. Nowadays, they may work for several years in a dead-end contingent position with little job security, the equivalent of a sales associate at Walmart in linguist Noam Chomsky’s judgement.

“It’s a part of a corporate business model designed to reduce labor costs and to increase labor servility,” Chomsky said in a Skype conversation with the Adjunct Faculty Association of United Steel Workers. “When universities become corporatized, as has been happening quite systematically over the last generation as part of the general neoliberal assault on the population, their business model means that what matters is the bottom line.”

In 1975, full-time tenured and tenure track faculty occupied 57 percent of all faculty positions in the country, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. That number dropped to 30 percent by 2011. Nearly the inverse of this downward slope, the number of part-time faculty members steadily inclined from 30 percent to 51 percent in the same time period.

Ithaca College’s Office of Institutional Research reveals a similar trend locally. The percentage of faculty that worked part-time grew from 22 percent to 30 percent from 2002 to 2016, according to institutional data.


The office declined to disclose further information.

From the perspective of tenured faculty, college’s increasing reliance on contingent faculty threatens to make obsolete careers in scholarship while reducing the quality of education. The unsteady nature of contingent positions, lack of benefits and low pay makes establishing one’s self in their field a herculean effort.

With a limit of 12 credit-hours per academic year, the most a part-time contingent faculty member can theoretically make in annual salary is $16,800 dollars. However, a spreadsheet detailing the negotiations between the bargaining committees revealed that the average number of credit hours worked by part-time faculty members per academic year at Ithaca Colelge is 4.68, totaling an annual salary of $6,552 dollars.

The reason for the low pay is that the part-time contingent faculty position is traditionally filled by a professional with an alternative source of income, like a museum curator or business executive. It was never meant to be an individual’s main source of income. However, as the graph demonstrates, full-time tenure track openings have steadily decreased in the last 40 years as contingent positions have increased.

Like the other components of the corporatized college, these hirings are not deliberately oppressive. Offices of human resources and academic affairs use contingent professors as a way of responding to last minute changes in student enrollment in a given department. This is especially true for a college like Ithaca College, which has been upwards of 90 percent dependent on income from students since the 2008 financial crisis.

As a result fluctuating student income, departments with declining or unsteady enrollment numbers like writing, art history and anthropology, are more likely to be staffed by high numbers of contingent faculty, rather than departments like business administration and integrative marketing and communications.

Let’s say a tenured professor retires from the department of philosophy. They likely made an annual salary of somewhere around $110 thousand dollars, the national average for tenured professors according to the American Association of University Professors. If the college sees a drop in enrollment in that department or a significant portion of philosopher majors receive large amounts of financial aid, the college will turn to contingent faculty members. This way, the college saves tens of thousands of dollars for that particular year but also millions of dollars in the long run since the contingent contract doesn’t provide for a long term career as does a tenure-track.

The graphs of student enrollment by school and budget allocations from part I all but mirrored each other because Ithaca College is a tuition-driven institution. For the college to pay for a class with more money than its students provide in tuition income is unsustainable.

This trend creates a self-confirming vicious cycle, according to a study by Ronald Ehrenberg, a labor economist at Cornell University. By witnessing the struggle faced by their contingent professors, undergraduates will feel discouraged from attending graduate school and seeking a career in academia.

Ehrenberg’s study also reported that the redirection of academic funds, for example those that support a new full-time professor after one retires, to support a college’s features to retain students has had a positive effect on retainment and therefore, retaining tuition dollars.

This has not been the case at Ithaca College which has seen devastating drops in student enrollment during the last two years.

In fact, Ithaca College’s use of contingent faculty has led to grassroots protests from students and faculty intended to pressure the administration into complying with the faculty union’s demands by garnering the college a negative reputation.

“One of the best things we can do is generate pressure not just within the school but from outside…to make the college think, this is going to affect the enrollment, this is going to affect the bottom line; we need to make a change to avoid that,” said Taylor Ford, President of Students for Labor Action, at a teach-in on Oct. 11, 2016.

A week later on Oct. 19, SLA and the faculty union rallied outside a banquet in Emerson Suites hosted by the Board of Trustees to celebrate newly tenured faculty. By February 2017, the union voted to authorize a strike.

In a one-on-one meeting during the week of Feb. 6, Ford told Nancy Pringle, vice president of human resources, that unless the administrative bargaining committee made “substantive change” to their negotiations with the union, student activists would inform prospective students of the plight of contingent faculty at the college’s open house days. On Feb. 20, SLA made good on his promise.

For tenured professors who had decreasing influence in whether or not tenure tracks would be re-opened in their departments, the union’s cause offered the chance to challenge the executive control of the administration and bargain with the provost’s office. As a result, multiple professors planned to cancel class in support of the union.

During the 2016-17 winter break, Susan Adams Delaney, professor in the department of writing, offered advice to students through a Facebook post on how to participate in a strike even if their professor does not intend to take part. She advised students to talk with friends who had previously taken the class to learn what they should expect from the workload and ask their professors for their class syllabus ahead of time.

Mathematics Professor John Rosenthal said for him and other tenured faculty, for the administration to agree to the union’s demands would reveal the college could support more tenure-track lines, although far less than contingent lines, if they were willing to spend the money.

During the Spring 2017 semester, 13 academic departments announced their support for the contingent faculty movement, insisting they would not re-fill any positions left vacant by striking professors. Eleven of these letters came from the School of Humanities and Sciences whose faculty had historically been among the loudest voices lamenting the college’s corporate techniques.

The Slow Professor, a book which first introduced the term “corporatization” into the debate, served as a galvanizing force for faculty members of all statuses. It was passed around in a book discussion hosted by the Center for Faculty Excellence, according to Chris Biehn, vice president of institutional advancement. Written by Canadian English professors Barbara Seeber and Maggie Berg, The Slow Professor is at once a dissertation on the changing nature of higher education and a call to arms for professors to resist it.

The book’s thesis argues that the corporate culture’s intrusion in higher education, requiring professors to write department’s budget, abide fiscal years and meet stringent deadlines, is antithetical to a professor’s scholarly labor of research and publication.

“Corporatization has compromised academic life and sped up the clock,” reads the book’s introductory, “Slow Professor Manifesto”. “The administrative university is concerned above all with efficiency, resulting in a time crunch and making those of us subjected to it feel powerless. Talking about professors’ stress is not self-indulgent; not talking about it plays into the corporate model.”

And thus, a new proletariat is born—the contingent faculty and their supporters fighting for the soul of higher education against administrators who supposedly seek to commodify and dehumanize it.

On March 26, two days before the union’s scheduled strike, the bargaining committees reached a contract agreement. It included a three-year wage increase, a “kill fee” if a professor’s contract is not renewed and a general statement that contingent faculty were to be appreciated at Ithaca College.

“This agreement recognizes that Contingent Faculty make valuable contributions to the College’s academic community, and allows participation in academic and community events,” the contract read. “Schools, departments, and programs are encouraged to invite contingent faculty members to participate in meetings and activities where appropriate.”

An (In)convenient college

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An (in)conveniant college

Ithaca College, once a trailblazer in environmentalism enterprise, has let sustainable practices fallen by the wayside after funding became tighter. Newly appointed President Shirley Collado says she's open to reinstating Ithaca's high ranking.

By Arianna Ashby, Rebecca Eulberg, Justin Henry, Dan Santoro and Joe Sprung

The industrial revolution introduced mankind to a troubling split between humanistic practice and entrepreneurial ambition, a divide which Ithaca College pledged to bridge in 2006, when talks began of a new building for the school of business.

“By acknowledging the importance of building a sustainable world, Ithaca College has made an ethical and moral decision to not only make a positive difference but also to teach our students the important link between sustainability and responsible citizenship,” read the institutional plan for sustainability.

Since that time of optimism, the college has undergone financial and personal turmoil relegating sustainability to a second thought. Can a college fulfill its altruistic duties of educating thinkers of tomorrow while operating on the existential threat posed by global warming?

A pioneer in sustainability

The average institution of higher learning expels 52,434 metric tons of greenhouse gasses on a yearly basis, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Altogether, colleges and universities produce 121 million metric tons of CO2, which amounts to a quarter of California’s total output.

The three scopes institutions use to gauge its consumption of greenhouse gases (GHG) are:

  • Direct combustion—for heating buildings
  • Indirect combustion from consumption—from purchased electricity
  • Indirect combustion not from consumption—from transportation

Transportation is the most difficult source to monitor since it relies on feedback from yearly surveys which have low response rates, according to the 2013 Climate Action Plan progress report. For this coming semester, the Office of Energy Management and Sustainability now documents this in a required survey prior to purchasing a parking pass. For instance, if a student drives five miles to and from campus every week day, they emit about half a metric ton of CO2 into the atmosphere.

Ithaca College has a proud heritage of blazing trails in environmental sustainability which explains why its net carbon output is lower than the national average. The college is also a signatory on American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), committing the college to carbon neutrality by 2050, after former President Peggy Ryan Williams signed it in 2007.

To achieve this ambitious goal, the college built three structures to cohabitate with the surrounding environment and meet the criteria for the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). This placed the college in a category shared only by Yale University as earning the platinum status for an academic building, the Park School of Business and Sustainable Enterprise, in 2010. It was followed later that year by the Peggy Ryan Williams (PRW) Center, which also earned platinum status.

The PRW Center was awarded LEED status for the way its architecture is integrated with the earth’s natural functions. The building casts a massive shadow across the campus’s north-side garden where cool air is fed directly into the lobby. The PRW Center’s roof is 6,500 square feet of vegetation to replace oxygen in the air removed when the ground was cleared for the building’s construction.

Ithaca College partakes in reducing carbon emissions in two key ways. The first is through carbon sequestration, the process where carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere. Carbon sequestration happens naturally when trees convert atmospheric carbon dioxide into oxygen during photosynthesis. The college’s natural lands, 600 acres of forested area, are owned by IC and are estimated by the Sustainability Tracking and Assessment and Rating System (STARS) to remove approximately 680 metric tons of CO2, which is 2.06 percent of CO2 emissions in 2012, from the atmosphere annually.

The majority of Ithaca College’s energy still comes from the grid, however. Grid energy is a mix of energy originating from different sources including helpful practices and harmful ones, with different percent shares producing grid electricity in Tompkins County. Tompkins County’s electricity comes from diverse group of sources, mostly outside the local area—nuclear, renewable, natural gas, coal and oil. None of the electricity, however, comes from the coal-fired plant on Cayuga Lake. Data from the Environmental Protection Agency suggests that only 32 percent of Tompkins County Energy comes from greenhouse gas emitting sources.

Ithaca College itself has more than 85 buildings on campus that rely on natural gas as a primary source of energy. In the 2010-2011 academic year, IC’s natural gas use was 168,470 British Thermal Units (MMBTU). IC also is a consumer of electricity and other energy sources. Data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that during the 2015-16 fiscal year, the college purchased 111,562.07 MMBTU of electricity. Currently, the price of electricity in New York is 19.4 cents per kilowatt hours (kWh).

This means that IC spent over 689,642 dollars on electricity during this time frame.

Falling back

In 2009, a year after the construction of two buildings that would go on to win LEED platinum status, Ithaca College was ranked 47th in the Sierra Club’s top 200 “coolest schools”. However, the college has not since been included on the Sierra Club’s. IC’s regional competitors, Wells College, SUNY Geneso, SUNY Cortland, Williams College and Wartburg College all made the 2016 ranking.

David Turkon, professor in the department of anthropology, recalled the end of Williams’ presidency, shortly after she signed the ACUPCC, when environmental sustainability was at the heart of Ithaca College’s ideals. Lamenting a lost soul of the college in the wake of constraining budgetary practices, Turkon described IC’s former environmental efforts as an attractive quality to donors and prospective students.

“This used to be a quiet, little niche school that focused on environmental sustainability and that was why people wanted to contribute to it,” Turkon said.

How did Ithaca College recede from the front-lines of sustainability?

Trading cheap fossil fuels for renewable forms of energy is an expensive project and involves a multi-year gradual transition with talented personnel and strategic finances. During a time when the college saw waning numbers of student enrollment and inexpensive natural gas, using fossil fuels became a cost-cutting initiative.

Higher education’s financial structure is cyclical: student tuition is invested for profitable degrees and someday, the college’s division institutional advancement hopes, alumni donations. This establishes a precedent of some academic departments on campus being pioneers of sustainable practice — the business and communication schools, for instance, named for the college’s top donor — and others to fall by the wayside.

There is no wonder why the college was able to invest in sustainable architecture with a chic modern design for three of its buildings; the money must come from either an outside source or yield a return on the initial investment. The A&E center provided a talking point for the college to recruit prospective students, the PRW center was funded with 280,000 dollars from the New York Stage Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the business school was a combination of the two, supported by a wealthy alumni network to fund the most profitable degrees in the college, thereby fostering more future donating alumni.

The 2013 CAP progress report showed a significant increase in both electricity (seven percent increase) and natural gas consumption (eight percent increase) from the previous year. The report attributes to the opening of the new Athletics and Events Center in Fall 2011, which increased total campus square footage by eight percent.

While the A&E center does much to mitigate its consumption of fossil fuels, it remains the college’s primary gas guzzler, accounting for substantial increases in natural gas and electricity use during the 2012-13 academic year. It also demands much of the college’s maintenance funding and attention. This demonstrates the inherent conflict of sustainable enterprise in an age of financial constraints: the A&E center, while adding a financial and environmental burden, is a big selling point for the college.

The college’s most recent Climate Action Plan progress report marked total CO2 emissions at 31,549 metric tons, down from a high point of 38,234. Although total emissions had been steadily decreasing, the college did not publish any more progress reports after 2013.

“The wide variability in some categories from year to year is troubling, and may speak to the need to ensure that the same data collection protocols and interpretations are being used,” the report read.

These reports were published by the division of energy management and sustainability in the office of the facilities, which has suffered scattered human resources appointment since the college’s sustainability high point in the mid 2000s.

Marian Brown formerly served as the special assistant to the provost for sustainability. She left IC in 2014 after her position had been relegated from one with direct interaction with administrators to facilities where she had less influence. According to the Wells College website, her new position allows her desired scope of influence. After 2 years of Brown’s work, Wells College was included in the Sierra Club’s list of “cool schools”.

During her three decades at Ithaca College, Brown developed campus wide sustainability initiatives which included developing environmental-themed research initiatives for students and faculty. Her position, as well as that of Mark Darling who retired as sustainability coordinator in 2016, did not find replacements until the end of the 2016-17 academic year when Becca Evans was hired.

Alternative options

The Finger Lakes region of New York State offers many other alternative energy sources that could expand the college’s sustainable practice. One strong possibility is through wind power and one opportunity for this is located about 12 miles away from IC campus, at Black Oak Wind Farm. While it is currently in Public Comment Period of Environmental Impact Statement, if it were to become operational it would need an energy purchaser. Ithaca College provides a likely candidate since the farm will have seven GE 2.3-107 wind turbines capable of producing 16.1 megawatts of energy.

These could include things like geothermal heating and technology implementations in buildings which would help counter heating and cooling issues. Other options are outlined in a study prepared for Ithaca College to improve sustainability by Dr. Christopher W. Sinton, and would include waste wood, which comes from various sources including timber harvest, forest management residue or sawood waste, or biogas, a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide that is produced by anaerobic digestion of organic wastes.

If implemented strategically, environmental and financial sustainability can go hand in hand. For as long as Ithaca College relies on fossil fuels for its operations, it is in the grasp of the capricious tides of an inelastic marker. As public opinion shifts toward environmental awareness, student income and alumni donations respond positively toward sustainable enterprises.

According to a 2015 Pew Research Center poll, Americans aged 18-29 are more likely than older Americans to see climate change as an imminent threat. With many small independent college receiving the bulk of their funds from tuition and fees, initiatives to reduce the effects of climate change can prove to be a marketable quality for college’s image.

Divestment: where idealism meets reality

The greatest barrier to reversing the effects of global warming is a profound case of volunteer-bias among institutions. Although climate change is a global issue, change can only come about if institutions collectively take action, however, the small impact any one institution will make discourages the first step.

In mid August of 2016, 747 organizations of all types and sizes pledged to divest from fossil fuel corporations with Go Fossil Free, a nonprofit consultant that advises groups compel the administrative officials of their organizations to divest. Among the signatories are Syracuse University and the city of Ithaca.

Divestment is the opposite of investment: withdrawing from assets that fund ethically questionable ventures. In philosophical terms, however, investment and divestment is all about values. Their aim is to change widespread public consciousness about fossil fuel companies in the same way that the public has turned against tobacco companies. Companies can only operate in a favorable legal and political framework, according to the Go Fossil Free website.

Go Fossil Free has some big aims for itself, that is, to wean mankind off of the resilient quasi-monopolized market of fossil fuel, an immediate withdrawal which would be worse than that of tobacco. The unilateral divestment of any tuition-dependent college would be more challenging for the college than Exxon Mobile.

At independent, tuition driven colleges, diversified endowments have braced institutions from financial ruin. When the college’s endowment lost one-third of its asset-value in the wake of the 2008 financial crash, the budget narrative for the 2009 fiscal year attributed the college’s ability to keep its head afloat to a diversified source of funding. In the years since, the college has restored this one-third and even surpassed it but, unfortunately, not without the profits of fossil fuel corporations.

Balancing environmental sustainability and financial sustainability is a difficult task, since environmentally unsustainable practices tend to be cheap and reliable means for income. The college needs a clever exit strategy.

“I wouldn’t expect students to fix that issue, of course. Getting students who express an interest in that, that’s what I’m expecting,” Evans said. “If a student is thinking about starting a divestment from fossil fuels, coming to us and saying ‘hey, can we get XYZ data of how much we are invested in oil?’ and ‘what is possible?’ Yes, I can help do that. But real change will come from the students and the resources of the director and provost.”

The total market value of the endowment portfolio for the 2016 fiscal year stated in the annual endowment report is equivalent to academic year, is 269.5 million dollars. This number is dwarfed by Cornell University’s endowment of 5.758 billion dollars, according to their 2016 fiscal year report. This endowment plan is the reason Cornell, along with all Ivy-league colleges, are so financially strong. They are not nearly as dependent upon income from enrollment like smaller institutions such as Ithaca College and other independent colleges and can afford economic transitions.

This is a campaign colleges across the nation have already begun. According to an NPR article, Syracuse University sets the record with the largest endowment divesting from all fossil fuels with an endowment of 1.2 billion.

Syracuse University’s plan to divest is simple. First, they plan on pulling all direct investment in fossil fuels while finding other places, such as investments for companies focused on renewable energy, for that money to be reinvested. These are companies that are determined by the university’s investment managers as to whether they are reliable enough to invest in. This ensures that money is not lost. After divesting from direct fossil fuel corporations, they plan on reducing fossil fuel exposure through the university’s index funds or other co-mingled assets.

This is the basic plan that other universities and colleges have been following for divestment since it allows money to be drawn away from unsustainable practices without any loss of profit. Ithaca College would have to follow a similar trend of careful divestment and strategic investment.

Of Ithaca College’s endowment portfolio, 2.1 percent is invested in fossil fuel based companies, according to Janet Williams, vice president of business and finance. Williams explained that the low exposure of half a million dollars invested in fossil fuels limits the negative of possible divestment. However, the drawbacks to divestment she said include changing a diversified investment portfolio and policy constructed to support the college’s academic endeavors for the long term.  

“Many of those endeavors include reducing the carbon impact of the college and academic research related to dealing with climate change,” Williams said in an email.

Williams said the college has been taking into account the community and its concerns, proactively looking for sustainable investment options. For example, the Park Sustainable Endowment Fund was established in 2015 and invests in companies that are either fossil free or actively seeking environmental solutions.

“We believe continuing to be able to support the college’s efforts has a more direct impact than small divestments from large public energy companies,” Williams said.  

Becca Evans was hired as the sustainability coordinator during the Spring 2017 semester with starting an official college-wide sustainability committee as her first goal. The committee would be responsible for working on sustainability literacy testing for incoming freshman and graduating seniors in order to gauge what students learned during their time at IC.

Tight funds are not so much a concern for Evans, she said in a Q & A with IC Chronicle. Working with very little resources, she said, is a stimulating challenge.

“I know people are frustrated with how things died over the past several years, and I’d like to step away from what went wrong in the past and focus on what we can do for the future,” Evans said.

Part IV: A lost liberal arts dream

Illustration by Adriana Del Grosso

By Justin Henry, Editor in chief

“While it is important to be concerned about whether the ‘pure’ liberal arts college represents a disappearing segment of the educational market, a more important question may be this: How do we best organize and articulate the relationship between liberal education and professional education?” – James Appleton, the president of the University of Redlands


Anthony DiRenzo, Ithaca College professor in the department of writing, teaches in the tradition of classical humanism and integrates history and philosophy in his technical writing courses. He recalled a time in 2008 when the faculty was galvanized behind behind newly appointed president Tom Rochon and his plan to integrate Ithaca College’s humanities departments with professional training programs. The schools of Roy H. Park, Health Science and Human Performance, Business and Music would all depend on the School of Humanities and Sciences to supplement their curriculums with liberal arts learning.

DiRenzo said Rochon achieved such a high level of appeal by reaching out to the community by holding “listening sessions”, inviting all faculty members to brunch with his family and other spontaneous acts of kindness which rivaled the benevolence of his renown predecessor Peggy Ryan Williams.

“If you try to remind some people who Tom used to be and what Tom used to be like, they’ll say that’s not true,” DiRenzo said. “I’m telling you, it was true.”

It was only a matter of years before Rochon’s administration became characterized as aloof and disconnected from the campus community.

The Integrative Core Curriculum (ICC), “IC squared” as it was originally called in 2009, was the first initiative in an attempted reimagination of the college experience. It grew into the colossus known as IC 20/20, pun intended. At the time, it seemed a creative solution to each of the college’s woes in the late 2000’s—financial, educational and bureaucratic.

“We expect that with the accomplishment of this vision, Ithaca College will augment its reputation, increase its organizational alignment, sustain operational excellence, and be widely known as the home of a distinctive and valuable model of higher education,” declared the preamble to “IC 20/20: Focusing Our Vision on Student Learning,” a document from the Board of Trustees.

In terms of bureaucracy, the reaccreditation process by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education dictate the college was missing a method of measuring student success. Hence, the ICC’s unpopular requirement of an e-portfolio from all students before graduation.

In terms of an educational curriculum, the ICC seemed like the self-actualization of any liberal arts college. Students would receive a dynamic curriculum of courses from the School of Humanities and Sciences to supplement their professional training in one of the other four schools. Or, if you were a student in the humanities or sciences, you had the chance to take classes in business or filmmaking, said Chris Biehn, vice president of institutional advancement.

“It’s like liberal arts plus,” Biehn said, reflecting on his days as a philosophy major at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. “When I was an undergraduate, I would have wanted to take film classes. At IC, I can do that.”

Despite the optimistic rhetoric surrounding the ICC by the administration, it has since gained a reputation of preventing students from graduating on time and constraining the syllabi of professors.

Most significantly, it seemed to devalue the liberal arts by hiring contingent faculty to teach the introductory level courses in the school of humanities and sciences. Since those classes enrolled students whose tuition money supported their majors in business, journalism, music or physical therapy, the college hired inexpensive part-time professors to teach their classes.

The short-term contracts of contingent faculty are designed this way in order to allow the college flexibility when responding to the ebbs and flows of income from students. At colleges like Ithaca College that are upwards of 90 percent dependent on student income, part time professors become an integral part of responding to an unexpected drop in enrollment.

DiRenzo expressed concern that Ithaca College would go the way of state universities of New York (SUNY), which condense multiple departments of the humanities into a single department. For example, English, foreign languages and linguistics become the department of modern languages and linguistics.

As a result of the college’s new efforts to cut costs, retired professors in departments with waning student enrollment and income, such as writing, art history and anthropology, were much more likely to be replaced by lecturers, instructors and other faculty members of contingent status, if they are replaced at all. Without job stability, benefits or salaries higher than the national poverty line in some cases, part-time faculty live unstable and herculean lives.

In order to understand this perceived shortchanging of the humanities at Ithaca College, it’s important to recall the financial model for a healthy institution of higher learning as explained by Chris Biehn, vice president of institutional advancement, in Part II. By investing in a student centered education, the college planned to not only bring in tuition dollars but the dollars of successful alumni. This way, the college allows itself more financial freedom rather than being dependent on tuition for 91 percent of its operations.

“The more we enhance the student experience, the more you have a successful alumni body, the more successful you’ll be as a college but you also do well in the world and that’s what we want,” Biehn said.

At Ithaca College, some academic fields lend themselves to profitable lines of work, like business administration and integrative marketing and communications. Both garner consistent student enrollment and wealthier network of donating alumni. On the other hand, degrees in art history and anthropology have lower rates of employment after graduation and are less attractive to prospective students—and their tuition dollars.

This is why business majors and integrative marketing and communications majors are never chided by overbearing family members about how they intend to use their degree as are majors of anthropology and history. Unless the latter two attend graduate school or have work experience, their bachelor’s degree amounts to much less in the job market compared to the former two.

In an economy where student debt climbs to unprecedented rates and tuition perpetually increases, students must increasingly think of themselves as shareholders in the debt-based economy of their own careers. They must invest in the college to provide for them a profitable career that will help them pay off long-term debt


At Ithaca College, professional studies offer the highest chances of employment for students compared to fields in the humanities. The four majors with the highest number of students from the 2016 graduating class who obtained work within 6 months of graduating were business administration, integrative marketing and communications and television and radio production and journalism, according to survey results from the Office of Institutional Advancement. Nearly all these jobs were in the students’ graduating fields.

Students graduating in the Roy H. Park School of Communications have the highest rate of employment followed closely by the School of Business. The school with the lowest rate of employment is the School of Humanities and Sciences. Not only does this discourage students from studying the humanities but it also initiates a poor precedent for alumni willing to support the school.

This distinguishes Ithaca College and other financially insecure colleges from wealthy institutions, said Yale Economist Harvey Rosen. Ivy-league colleges have accumulated such wealth because they have robust alumni networks dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries. Ithaca College was founded in 1892 as a music conservatory, and the School of Humanities and Sciences was only established in the 1950s.

As a result, the loudest voices in protest of the school’s cost cutting have come from the School of Humanities and Sciences. During the Fall 2015 semester, 18 of the 25 undersigned faculty of an open letter detailing their grievances against former President Tom Rochon, which described “corporatism” in his style of leadership in addition to staff cuts, worked in the School of Humanities and Sciences. 

David Turkon, professor in the department of anthropology, disapproved of the administration’s devaluing of classroom learning in favor of internships and other forms of experiential learning, demonstrated by the alumni panel called the “Blue Sky Reimagining” during the Fall 2015 semester. One of the panelists, Chris Burch, a wealthy alumnus whom the college was courting for donations at the time, criticized the native population where he built his hotel because they sold women in exchange for livestock.

“That struck me as evidence of why Burch needed book learning,” Turkon said. “That’s something you could overcome in an anthropology class. It’s not the buying and selling of women. It’s the forging of community relations.”

Turkon also said on the days when the college hosts prospective students, administrators have urged him to highlight the college as a whole rather than his department of anthropology in order to “sell” the college experience.

“They wanted me to say ‘Ithaca College is so great’ instead of ‘anthropology is so great’,” Turkon said. “I think it devalues it.”

DiRenzo pointed to the working conditions of each school as an indication of their built up wealth over the generations. Charitable donations from the Roy H. Park have gone to support two academic buildings in the donors’ name, the Park School of Communications and the Park Center for Business and Sustainable enterprise, the latter of which offers its faculty broad windows with scenic views of the campus greens and the City of Ithaca. The writing department offices, on the other hand, have cracking walls and less temperature regulation.

Click here to read Part V: “A fight for the soul of the university”: the unionization of contingent faculty

Part I: “People over profits!”

For the free exchange of ideas

October 2017 issue

Corporatizing college

The story of ideological divide at Ithaca College

By Justin Henry

"People over profits!"

This has been the rallying cry of faculty unions allied with tenured professors across the United States in retribution against the “corporatization of higher education”. At the “corporate” college, the visions of traditional scholarship and teaching are compromised. Students are now customers purchasing a commodified college experience from administrative executives; professors, whose crafts were once the soul of a college’s operations, are relegated to mid- and low-level employee-status.

It is worth noting that most independent colleges like Ithaca College are technically corporate—a legal status which means they are viewed as one entity under the law. However, for critics of the “corporatization of higher education”, colleges and universities have begun to act like for-profit businesses rather than humanistic centers of learning.

The majority of colleges in the U.S. are nonprofit institutions, meaning they are driven by an altruistic mission statement rather than the incentive to maximize profits for shareholders. But as administrators have modified their college's operations in response to unsteady student enrollment, traditional scholars point to uncanny resemblances the modern university bears to a business conglomerate. The result has been grassroots revolts against an aloof administrative class by faculty whose departments have often been the price paid for financial sustainability.

But what does the “corporate” university or college look like?

Take Ithaca College as an example, whose evolving trends during the last ten years serve as a case study for the modern college’s adoption of a “corporate” culture. These trends include: reliance on tuition income, declining student enrollment, increasing reliance on contingent faculty and investments in features which make the college more “marketable” to prospective students.

At the corporate college, all campus community members are stakeholders: administrators “invest” in innovative educational programs in the hopes they will yield tuition revenue and donations from alumni. Students “invest” tens of thousands of dollars per year in a degree which they hope will settle their debt after graduation and yield them a profitable career. However, with some degrees offering significantly higher chances of success in the job market, many liberal arts programs receive less support from the annual budget.

The ideological split is a result of the administration's free-market approach to the operations of higher education, a sector of society whose inhabitants refuse to think of it in capitalist terms. How can one quantify the value of a well-rounded education?

Because the virtues of liberal arts learning cannot be quantified in terms of investment and payoff, the corporatized university devalues classroom learning in favor of professional training, according to many professors of the humanities. Thus, the modern college is turned into a glorified trade school with well-furnished gym facilities.

“We do not have to submit to the neoliberal ideology that turns everything and everyone into a disposable commodity, and in the process corrodes the very foundations of our society,” Ithaca College Faculty Union member Tom Schneller wrote in commentary submitted to The Chronicle. “These forces are inevitable only if we fail to resist an unsustainable status quo, if we listen to those who tell us to give in and give up. By doing so, we would betray not only the future of this institution, but that of higher education as a whole.”

To understand how this “corporate” culture took hold, it is important to understand the finances of higher education—where a college’s money comes from and where it all goes.

Like many independent, nonprofit colleges, Ithaca College maintains a delicate balance between three sources of income: student expenses, charitable donations and payoffs from the endowment, which is the college’s savings fund.

Because the college is dependent upon student expenses - tution, fees, room and board - for 91 percent of its total budget, any unexpected decline in enrollment takes a major toll on the college. The college reserves 1-2 percent of its operational budget every year to respond to the ebbs and flows of student enrollment called the contingency fund.

As a tuition-driven institution, the college funds academic programs somewhat proportionally to student enrollment. This is why the administration was so resistant to the contingent faculty union’s demands of increased compensation and longer contracts. Because Ithaca College is almost entirely dependent money from students and families, Provost Linda Petrosino said contingent position allows for the college to respond to the ebb and flow of student enrollment.

In the graphs below, stratified by academic departments for the 2011-2012 academic year, notice how student enrollment all but mirrors allocations from the budget.

Ivy League institutions with multi-billion dollar endowments and wealthy alumni networks don’t have the same problem of tuition dependency. Take Cornell University, for example, which is dependent on tuition and fees for only 24.8 percent of its 3.5 billion-dollar budget, according to the budget for the 2014-2015 academic year. With endowment payout and donation income totaling over 4 hundred million dollars, Cornell supplies the majority of its expenses with funds that don’t rely on student enrollment.

Dependence on enrollment sets the stage for Ithaca College’s investment innovative academic programs and low costs of admission with other colleges of similar size and standing like Hofstra University and Providence College. Such competition results in the college’s investment in programs which make it more “marketable” to prospective students.

Additionally, the Office of Business and Finance, which has seen three different leaders since 2013, has made efforts to maintain low tuition and a high discount rate, since the college has found them to be its greatest appeal to prospective students. For the 2017-18 academic year, the discount rate is set at 45 percent, according to the budget. This means the college does not receive nearly half of the income from tuition and fees it would if each student paid full tuition.

In order to liberate itself from enrollment dependency, the administration has made efforts to diversify its income by courting donors and adding funds to the endowment. Healthy colleges regularly depend upon charitable donors, especially alumni, which for Ithaca College has led to the establishment of the college’s most richly endowed programs—for example the Park School of Communication and the Park School for Business and Sustainable Enterprise.

Ithaca College isn’t alone in its attempt to keep tuition low and raise discount rate; IC’s efforts correspond to a similar nationwide trend, according to a study by Cornell University Economist Ronald Ehrenberg entitled “American Higher Education in Transition”. At all but the wealthiest institutions with the most economic freedom, the average discount rate climbed by an average of 26.7 percent in 1990 to 42 percent in 2008, according to Ehrenberg’s study.

Due to sharply decreasing rates of student enrollment in recent years, the narrative for the 2017-18 academic year budget predicts the college will be left with only 233 thousand dollars after its expenses by the end of the 2017-18 academic year, compared previous years when the college’s net revenue exceeded 10 million dollars.

As the budgets become tighter, nonprofit funding for higher education becomes a world without any final solutions, only infinite trade-offs, as expressed by this quote from the budget narrative for the 2009-10 academic year, written in the midst of financial turmoil:

“No matter the ultimate outcomes, there will be those who feel we raised tuition too much, financial aid not enough, that our employees are being asked to sacrifice too much by our not providing for a salary increment.”