Censoring Speech? There’s an Admin for That

By December 31, 2012

The Wall Street Journal this weekend featured an in-depth look at administrative bloat in the University of Minnesota system, where (as in many places in academia) the ranks of administrators are growing far more quickly than those of faculty or students. As authors Douglas Belkin and Scott Thurm write:

Many of the newly hired, it turns out, were doing little teaching. A Wall Street Journal analysis of University of Minnesota salary and employment records from 2001 through last spring shows that the system added more than 1,000 administrators over that period. Their ranks grew 37%, more than twice as fast as the teaching corps and nearly twice as fast as the student body.

Across U.S. higher education, nonclassroom costs have ballooned, administrative payrolls being a prime example. The number of employees hired by colleges and universities to manage or administer people, programs and regulations increased 50% faster than the number of instructors between 2001 and 2011, the U.S. Department of Education says. It’s part of the reason that tuition, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, has risen even faster than health-care costs.

What are all these new administrators doing? Well, it sure isn’t reading or applying the Constitution, as no Minnesota state institutions earn a "green light" rating in our Spotlight database. Indeed, a housing policy at the University of Minnesota’s flagship Twin Cities campus prohibits "engaging in conduct that would reasonably tend to cause alarm, anger, fear, or resentment in others." So I guess you can forget about discussing contentious issues like affirmative action or gun control, or rooting for the Green Bay Packers in Minneapolis. Minnesota schools have plenty of folks to enforce this sort of thing, too:

In its Office of Equity and Diversity, the number of people with "director" in their title grew to 10 in the 2011-2012 school year from just four directors five years earlier, by a university official’s count.

Growth in the diversity office is an attempt to make the campus "more inclusive and more welcoming to people of different backgrounds," Dr. Kaler says.

That is important, but unfortunately, the University of Minnesota, like many universities, apparently thinks that it can be accomplished by throwing more warm bodies at enforcing unconstitutional codes like this: "Racial slurs or jokes and verbal or physical conduct motivated by an individual’s race or color are unacceptable in the University educational and work community." Stay out of Minnesota, Chris Rock and Louis C.K.!

Here’s a New Year’s suggestion for the University of Minnesota: if you’re going to keep hiring bureaucrats until the cows come home, maybe hire some First Amendment experts among them. That might at least help matters a little bit.

Schools: University of Minnesota – Twin Cities