Some years back, I decided I had to quit the teaching profession to which I had dedicated half my life. The modern academy, I felt, was so far gone that restoration was no longer possible. Indeed, I now believe that complete collapse is the only hope for the future, but as Woody Allen said about death, I’d rather not be there when it happens.
Three reasons determined my course of action. For one thing, administration had come to deal less with academic issues and more with rules of conduct and punitive codes of behavior, as if it were a policing body rather than an arm of the teaching profession. Woe betide the (male) student accused of sexual assault or misconduct; the administration will convene an extra-judicial tribunal to punish or expel the accused, often with a low burden of proof. It will find ways to shut down conservative speakers. It will browbeat faculty and students to attend sensitivity training sessions on matters of race and gender. It will strike task forces to deal with imaginary issues like campus rape culture and propose draconian measures to contain a raging fantasy. The administration is now beset by two basic compulsions: to expand its reach at the expense of the academic community and to ensure compliance with the puritanical norms of the day. I thought it prudent to take early retirement rather than wait for the guillotine to descend.