CNN host Fareed Zakaria said that the country’s elite schools “have gone from being centers of excellence to institutions pushing political agendas” in a clip that has gone viral on social media.
“People sense the transformation,” Zakaria said, adding that this “souring on higher education makes America an outlier among all advanced nations” in a clip that has received over 23 million views and counting online.
Zakaria argued that as a result of ideological extremism, America’s top universities are “no longer seen as bastions of excellence but partisan outfits, which means they will keep getting buffeted by these political storms as they emerge.”
“They should abandon this long misadventure into politics, retrain their gaze on their core strengths, and rebuild their reputations as centers of research and learning,” the CNN anchor said.
“American universities have been neglecting a core focus on excellence in order to pursue a variety of agendas, many of them clustered around diversity and inclusion,” Zakaria told his audience. “It started with the best of intentions. Colleges wanted to make sure young people of all backgrounds had access to higher education and felt comfortable on campus. But those good intentions have morphed into a dogmatic ideology and turn these universities into places where the pervasive goals of political and social engineering, not academic merit.”
Zakaria also cited the recent Supreme Court decision on affirmative action, a controversial policy that allowed universities to use race as a factor in college admissions. The Supreme Court effectively struck down that policy in a 6-3 opinion, concluding that using race as a factor in admissions is a violation of the 14th Amedment’s Equal Protection Clause.
That has not stopped elite universities from sometimes doubling down on racial quotas, Zakaria said.
“Some universities’ response to this ruling seems to be that they will go further down this path, eliminating the requirement for any standardized tests like the SAT. That move would allow them to then take students with little reference to objective criteria. Of course, those who would suffer most would be bright students from poor backgrounds who normally use tests like PSAT to demonstrate their qualifications.”
“The most obvious lack of diversity at universities, political diversity, which clearly affects their ability to analyze many issues, is never addressed,” Zakaria said, pointing to the prevalence of “safe spaces, trigger warnings” and “microagressions” on college campuses.
Zakaria also responded directly to accusations of rising antisemitism at American universities.
“The Jewish groups would wonder, why do safe spaces, microaggressions and hate speech not apply to us?” Zakaria said. “If universities can take positions against free speech to make some groups feel safe, why not us? Having coddled so many student groups for so long, university administrators found themselves squirming, unable to explain why certain groups [like] Jews [and] Asians don’t seem to count in these conversations.”
Zakaria continued: “Having gone so far down the ideological path, these universities and these presidents could not make the case clearly that at the center of a university is the free expression of ideas, and that while harassment and intimidation would not be tolerated, offensive speech would and should be protected.”