Tom Hayden and the other members of the Students for a Democratic Society published the Port Huron Statement in 1962. Here is a paragraph concerning higher education in the United States:
Tragically, the university could serve as a significant source of social criticism and an initiator of new modes and molders of attitudes. But the actual intellectual effect of the college experience is hardly distinguishable from that of any other communications channel — say, a television set — passing on the stock truths of the day. Students leave college somewhat more “tolerant” than when they arrived, but basically unchallenged in their values and political orientations. With administrators ordering the institutions, and faculty the curriculum, the student learns by his isolation to accept elite rule within the university, which prepares him to accept later forms of minority control. The real function of the educational system — as opposed to its more rhetorical function of “searching for truth” — is to impart the key information and styles that will help the student get by, modestly but comfortably, in the big society beyond.
I wonder if Sen. Hayden and his fellows have read that bit lately, and if they have, I wonder if the irony of that statement, given the modern academic climate in this country, is lost on them. It’s not lost on me.