Higher education in the United States has become nearly synonymous with liberalism. Many conservative parents likely cringe when they imagine the mind-bending lectures that their young, knowledge-hungry, first-year college students will be subjected to upon arrival at university. Luckily, there is an antithesis to the trend.
The words college and conservative are not often used in the same context. The first years of college are considered by a great number of individuals as a time for self-exploration and pushing the limits — and rightly so. Unfortunately for many students, self-exploration is hampered by the constant barrage of liberal indoctrination that some educators consider knowledge and pushing the limits is encouraged only when the limits involve self-destructive personal behaviors. One small liberal arts college located on 200 acres in southern rural Michigan, though, has been rejecting regressive modern trends in higher education since its founding in 1844.
Hillsdale College is an independent, coeducational, residential, liberal arts college with a student body of about 1,400. Students who are accepted to the selective school embark on a four-year journey of learning that leads them to a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of sciences degree. Perhaps more important than the resultant degree Hillsdale students receive from the accredited institution, though, is the path the college’s educators take to bring them to the degree.
In the 1970s, the college made certain that liberal indoctrination on behalf of the status-quo Federal bureaucracy would never creep into its halls. The Department of Health, Education and Welfare set out to interfere with Hillsdale admissions policy during that period on the pretext that the school received Federal money in the form of student loans and financial aid. The Federal agency demanded that the college adopt an affirmative action admissions policy despite the fact that it was the first American college to prohibit in its charter any discrimination based on race, religion or sex, and became an early force for the abolition of slavery. It was also the second college in the Nation to grant four-year liberal arts degrees to women. Because the government’s unConstitutional mandate would make the college subject its admission roster to levels of discrimination that it had never before practiced, Hillsdale’s trustees responded with two resolutions:
- The College would continue its policy of non-discrimination.
- “With the help of God,” it would “resist, by all legal means, any encroachments on its independence.”
A decade of litigation ensued; and in 1984, the Supreme Court ruled against Hillsdale, saying it was indeed subject to bureaucratic mandates. The college announced that rather than comply with unConstitutional Federal regulation, it would no longer accept Federal taxpayer money to pay student tuition. In 2007, the school also rejected any tuition assistance funded by the State of Michigan, instead opting to aid students who need financial help with private contributions.
Hillsdale has taught a Constitution course to its students since the college opened its doors in 1844 as a part of a core curriculum that takes up about half of each student’s four-year learning journey. Because the college’s administration believes that the United States has reached a point in its history when the Constitutional foundation of the Nation will either be decimated completely by Federal bureaucracy or renewed by the populace, it offers the course online to anyone who signs up here.
In a recent interview with the college’s publication, Imprimis, Hillsdale President Larry P. Arnn discusses the importance of all Americans’ dedication to the values set forth in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Of the Declaration he says:
…It opens by speaking of universal principles. It does not portray the Founding era as unique—“When in the Course of human events” means any time—or portray the Founding generation as special or grand—“it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another” means any people. The Declaration is thus an act of obedience—an act of obedience to a law that persists beyond the English law and beyond any law that the Founders themselves might make. It is an act of obedience to the “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God,” and to certain self-evident principles—above all the principle “that all men are created equal” with “certain unalienable Rights.”
Arnn contends that the Constitution is more important than ever by quoting James Madison in Federalist 51, “[W]hat is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.”
The college President says Americans should take a look at the Federal government and ask themselves the following questions: Is the bureaucracy politically impartial? Is it efficient and rational, as if staffed by angels? Or is it politically motivated and massively self-interested?
No. No. Yes. That, Arnn contends, is why the Nation’s founding documents are as relevant today as they have ever been and should be studied and revered by all citizens of the United States.
At a time when the curricula of many colleges are chock full of liberal indoctrination — some are now even teaching classes in Occupy Wall Street, no joke — it should be refreshing to any conservative American to know that institutions like Hillsdale are still around. Anyone who may be worried that his children or grandchildren getting ready to send off college applications will end up wearing the blinders of liberal indoctrination may want to suggest Hillsdale. The country can never have too few Constitutionally-minded citizens.
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