They’re the only southern universities in the top twenty USNW rankings, and already some high school seniors (UD just listened to an interview on NPR this morning with several of them) are saying no way. Tennessee and Texas are absolutely looking like no-go sites for modern women, and North Carolina will almost certainly, in not too long a time, head back to the 1950s as well. Why risk signing up for four years at Duke?

These schools, marooned in too bad your father raped you, you poor thirteen year old land, can expect some portion of their faculty to try to get the hell out too. For years now, universities in that yall and shut ma mouth land have lost faculty because of the yall bring all your guns to campus, ya hear? laws in their university’s state; vicious anti-women legislation will draw yet more of them away.

But the good news is that these schools will not have to worry about diversity.

The Duke community represents the entire gamut of opinion from a network of spies should expose abortion seekers to the authorities to women who have ordered abortifacients should be incarcerated to a woman who aborts is an abomination in the sight of the lord and death in forced childbirth is what she deserves. C’mon down!’

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8 Responses to “Shed a tear for Duke, Vanderbilt, and Rice.”

  1. Rita Says:

    This is wishful thinking. The decision will not affect matriculation and enrollment at elite universities in these states. The average student with the wherewithal to go to Duke or Vanderbilt doesn’t weigh abortion access substantially into their calculations (TX and TN, for example, already had restricted access before Dobbs), and also has the means to go to a state with legal abortion if necessary.

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Rita: I disagree. Whatever the previous laws in these states, now there’s global, intense, attention being paid to them as they become yet more restrictive. Ken Paxton is making clear that his next thing is to go after sodomy in the state. Contraception will probably become a challenge in the next few years. These are young women, for whom all of these issues matter enormously, on a daily basis.

    I think plenty of well-heeled, overwhelmingly liberal students, mainly from the coasts, will say no to these schools. They’ve got all sorts of choice in schools, and I think many will choose another state altogether. As Paxton shows, Texas is nuts, and getting nuttier by the day. Rational people don’t attend schools in loonytune states, with – by the way – completely non-restrictive gun laws — just to make the picture that much more attractive.

    As for enrollment numbers, these will be lifted as mid-America pro-lifers apply in much greater numbers now that these schools are no longer spiritual cesspools. There is of course an established demographic – gated, guarded, community; country club; fraternities; sports; Hummers; guns; Trump – that will continue to be attracted to these excellent schools. They will come to dominate the schools as the coastals shrink back in horror.

    This is one reason why I also anticipate a loss of some of the best faculty at these schools. Most profs are liberal democrats, and they have been comforting themselves that they live within protected blue zones (Austin, for instance). They can forget that, and they know it.

  3. Rita Says:

    Well, faculty are always threatening to leave when they don’t get what they want, but the reality of the academic labor market is such that no one’s budging, and junior scholars will desperately accept any job they can get, whether in Alabama or Alaska or Azerbaijan. I recall a big stink a few years ago over the Wisconsin state govt’s efforts to curtail tenure and funding to their state universities, and everyone predicting that this would lead to a mass exodus of faculty from Madison. Did that pan out? That would seem to be a test case. (I can even be a personal test case- I’m moving to Texas on Friday to take a job at one of its universities. I’m not reconsidering in the slightest in light of Dobbs.)

    Students are in a little bit more of a buyer’s market, though not that much more. But I think the idea that states like Texas are going to outlaw contraception is pretty speculative, to say the least. I’m sure there’s someone out there who would support that, but the legislatures are made up of contraceptive users and they’re not likely to go for that. Anyone who gets into places like Harvard and Yale along with Duke and Vanderbilt will continue to choose the former over the latter for reasons unrelated to abortion, but I can’t imagine someone whose options are Cal State Wherever and Rice (assuming they can afford the private option) picking Cal State for its abortion services. Those can clearly be obtained a la carte.

  4. Margaret Soltan Says:

    I think we’re talking about two slightly different things. I’m focusing on southern schools that are very good but not yet great — none of the country’s southern schools makes the USNW top ten (globally, you’ve got to wait for #50 for a southern school to show up), and the very few that make the top twenty are rightly anxious about maintaining that foothold, especially because there are many other, pre-existent reasons why a very smart coastal person might want to avoid the south. I don’t want to idealize the better northern schools, but they do tend to lack the sports-dominated, S&M fraternity, scene that even the best southern schools tend to exhibit.

    You’re right that the faculty universities worry about losing are their best faculty, who by definition have plenty of other schools after them. What we can anticipate, here, is that some of these professors won’t simply leave for more money or whatever, but will leave making public statements about why they are leaving – as a number of them have when they leave because of guns. I think we can anticipate public statements about abortion laws — from both absconding faculty AND from students refusing to apply to southern schools. Such statements are powerful, and enough of them can be persuasive. (One of those links doesn’t work: go here for professors and guns.)

    The reality of America’s many great and very good universities is that few strong applicants will need to choose Duke or Vanderbilt to get their best pick. Not only the coasts, but states like Illinois and Michigan, offer scads of really good universities, public and private. Serious universities, where you don’t need to worry about athletic scandals, much less demento state legislatures capable of anything.

    The country, as many are noting, is increasingly divided; much of the south is now reveling in the states-rights, gun-happy, abortion-smashing, religion-dominated culture that is clearly winning there. Folks up here are watching, and I just think it’s overwhelmingly likely that the more confident, the louder, this newly radicalized culture becomes, we’ll keep to our own part of the world. I also, by the way, anticipate that the best southern students will leave the south. I recall reading that Nevada has such a bad university system that the state’s best students routinely go out of state. I think the south also will begin to suffer from a native brain drain.

  5. Rita Says:

    There aren’t many people who are such stars that multiple institutions are after them, though maybe this varies by discipline. Not a lot of people in my discipline are capable of jumping ship (to another tenured position, obviously anyone can just quit and leave). Maybe it’s easier in the sciences. I could find only two examples of people leaving over the campus gun policies that you noted. The reason I mentioned Wisconsin is bc that happened earlier me, so more time has passed for the effects to be felt and to generate a reaction, if there was going to be one.

    The reasons you offer are logical but speculative. People could think and act this way, but so far, empirically, enrollments at the schools that allow guns and have tawdry scandal histories seem to be increasing rapidly. (Eg, Baylor. We don’t yet know the effect of Dobbs on this, but if the gun policy and the previous abortion restrictions in place in these states are any indication, it will have no effect. The American population itself is shifting towards these conservative states, esp. Texas and Florida, which have gotten the most in-migration in the country in the past few years, while the major blue population centers like CA, IL, and NY have lost population. I don’t think that’s because people are rejecting secular liberalism either and taking a stand for Trump or conservative politics. The primary driver in all of this seems simply to be cost and jobs. It just doesn’t look like people are daunted by these political issues. Professors are the kind of people who I agree would actually like to act on their super strong political convictions and move to Canada or whatever, but they’re the least able given the labor market constraints of their profession. Everyone else is much less constrained but also much less motivated by these considerations.

  6. Rita Says:

    There aren’t many people who are such stars that multiple institutions are after them, though maybe this varies by discipline. Not a lot of people in my discipline are capable of jumping ship (to another tenured position, obviously anyone can just quit and leave). Maybe it’s easier in the sciences. I could find only two examples of people leaving over the campus gun policies that you noted. The reason I mentioned Wisconsin is bc that happened earlier, so more time has passed for the effects to be felt and to generate a reaction, if there was going to be one.

    The reasons you offer are logical but speculative. People could think and act this way, but so far, empirically, enrollments at the schools that allow guns and have tawdry scandal histories seem to be increasing rapidly. (Eg, Baylor. We don’t yet know the effect of Dobbs on this, but if the gun policy and the previous abortion restrictions in place in these states are any indication, it will have no effect. The American population itself is shifting towards these conservative states, esp. Texas and Florida, which have gotten the most in-migration in the country in the past few years, while the major blue population centers like CA, IL, and NY have lost population. I don’t think that’s because people are rejecting secular liberalism either and taking a stand for Trump or conservative politics. The primary driver in all of this seems simply to be cost and jobs. It just doesn’t look like people are daunted by these political issues. Professors are the kind of people who I agree would actually like to act on their super strong political convictions and move to Canada or whatever, but they’re the least able given the labor market constraints of their profession. Everyone else is much less constrained but also much less motivated by these considerations.

  7. Margaret Soltan Says:

    My point throughout has been about quality, not quantity. Schools like Bama (US News ranking #148) and Baylor (#76) are packing them in, but their quality remains pretty low. The state of Florida has a massive, massively expanding, population, but not one world-class university. People are falling all over themselves to move to Nevada, but by any standard it’s one of our dumbest states. (California is losing population and yet boasts a spectacular array of great universities – public and private.) Given their size and their money and their population, it’s disgraceful (see this list) that Texas and Florida remain mediocre.

    My point is that there has long been a culture problem at southern schools – because they’re in the south. Baylor is less attractive to our best students not only because the only thing northerners may know about it is the appalling Kenneth Starr/rape scandal. It’s also located in the wilderness of Waco, haunt of motorcycle gangs and their shootouts.

    We can now pile on top of this cultural problem a high-profile political problem. How many cartoons like this can Texas weather before folks up north begin to notice?

    There are thousands and thousands of American students positively seeking out a school where they can conceal carry – and you can do this on plenty of Texas campuses. Guns are massively popular in this country, and lots of Americans want a firearm on them throughout the day (think of the several federal legislators in DC willing to keep paying fines in order to try to get their guns through security). Thousands of American students also want a campus where religion is a very strong, visible, part of the university (as at Baylor, an overwhelmingly Christian school; or, to use an east coast example, Yeshiva University, #68 USNW).

    White power may also be a visible part of some southern universities, as at the notorious U Miss riot over that black guy’s reelection. This happened in 2012, not 1960.

    What to conclude from what both you and I have said? Most Americans like sunshine and guns; a significant minority are extremely conservative Christians. If these traits were associated with high-level intellectuality, Mississippi would be America’s École normale supérieure.

  8. Rita Says:

    Well, I have no doubt that the currently most elite schools will continue to attract most of the best students, but as you say, the vast majority are in blue states not likely to restrict abortion. It’s really only a few schools that make the cut in red states, and I don’t think their enrollments will decline in any absolute sense, since many others will surely be willing to take a Duke spot that an abortion-seeking student passes up. So I’m not entirely sure how we’d discern the effect of abortion restrictions on their excellence. It’s such a small number of people we’re talking about, I don’t know how we’d track them.

    But more broadly (and setting abortion or white power and other niche interests aside), isn’t one reason there is less elite excellence in places like Texas and Florida simply b/c their state university systems (like those of much of the country) are not really designed to produce it? They’re latecomers to the field, and they seek to be useful to the largest number of state residents possible. And they’re pretty good at this, graduating scads of students with degrees in marketing and sports business and turf science, and those people probably go on to stable, decent lives. But you’re never gonna become Yale or Chicago by doing that kind of thing! California is the one exception here, and perhaps Michigan, which is administered essentially like a private school. But in 45 out of the 50 states (including blue ones, as in eg, Washington, Oregon, and even most of the Northeast), the public universities are no better than UFlorida, and even worse than UT-Austin. But this seems like a real and necessary tension in a democracy; bastions of high-level intellectuality can’t serve everyone in a mass society. Isn’t that much more obviously the reason for red state university mediocrity than any recent developments in southern culture? That you have to compare UT-Austin to UConn, not to Yale?

    Your claim is I think stronger if we only compare private institutions in the South vs. the North. There’s a more notable quality divergence, I agree, along with big difference in numbers – northerners just built way more schools. That’s much more clearly southern anti-intellectualism at work over the centuries. Historically, northerners never went to even good southern schools (which is why UVA has hardly any nationally notable alumni despite being around for 200 yrs), while southerners always went to elite northern schools (which is why Yale had a Calhoun College). These are all patterns that long predate the present culture wars and could not have been caused by them. The best you could say, I guess, is that the patterns persist.

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