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Political Tantrums upending Public Higher Education

Updated: Jun 29, 2023

With the political minutiae surrounding many education issues as of late, we can quickly recognize a growing pattern amongst our nation's leading legislative and government officials: A public display of tantrums that lead to real-world implications for our higher education institutions. So, providing perspective is critical in thinking about how institutions should respond to frivolous claims and proactively safeguard the tenants of Higher Education. One facet is explicit that no matter the depth of pluralism at the institutional level, we unanimously agree that Higher Education, among many things, is the foundational sanctuary of Academic Freedom and Shared Governance and should be treated as such.




The level of nonconstructive scrutiny of higher education institutions is also a cause for concern, with a deep historical context worth noting. Today, these political tantrums are weaponizing federal funding at the state level to suppress curriculum development, firing professors whose views do not align with institutional public relations, unsubstantiated claims trying to deny debt relief, and a myriad of issues surrounding the validity of affirmative action, require all higher education stakeholders to engage in these discussions. More importantly, we have an obligation to speak out with factual information and symbolic reverence, refraining from a laissez-faire approach to the issues that dominate the mainstream media. Of course, some institutions would argue that a political perspective and engagement are not the business of a college and university. However, this could not be further from the truth.


Political tantrums have unintentionally illuminated blindspots in our higher education ecosystem that must be addressed and solutions widely publicized.

Universities tend to take a siloed approach, benchmarking themselves with only several institutional peers. It's time to start thinking more collectively. It is a privilege for private institutions to actively remove themselves from political discussions, whereas public institutions are not afforded such a luxury. Furthermore, it would be shortsighted to take such a position, as all public and private institutions receive federal funding. Therefore, discussions that lead to strategic planning and proactive prohibitions are the business of all higher education institutions. Political tantrums have unintentionally illuminated blindspots in our higher education ecosystem that must be addressed and solutions widely publicized.



Traditionally operating in the institution's background, the legal lens has moved into the foreground within the higher education ecosystem. As cases are raised to the Supreme Court, we must consider how these rulings will overtly and subtly change practices. This is a time to embrace and better understand the jurisprudential and legal theories to inform policy implications for postsecondary institutions. Without knowledge of these frameworks, there is a risk of promoting arguments from a lens that is not advantageous to the practical outcomes seeking implementation. Additionally, there is an opportunity to promote higher education policy discussion beyond enrollment management and retention efforts, to become more inclusive of widespread knowledge concerning general counsel.


These political tantrums stem from divisive leadership and a lack of diplomacy, yet they have reignited the crusader spirit to fight for the academic freedoms of higher education.

These political tantrums stem from divisive leadership and a lack of diplomacy, yet they have reignited the crusader spirit to fight for the academic freedoms of higher education. As one of the primary vehicles of social mobility, we need to ensure our institutions remain accessible, academically unconstrained, and protected from the instability of political landmines. Questions to consider in tackling this everpresent dissonance: How do we redefine the cultural climate surrounding higher education's validity? How do we use our positions and legitimate power to challenge and advocate for institutions that are apparent casualties of political tantrums? What forms of educational activism can be influential, powerful, and change agents in a broadly communicative societal context?


All thoughts, replies, and rebuttals are welcome,


Jade M. Felder

@felderofficial |Twitter & Instagram


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