Because my body is failing, I have enlisted the aid of a colleague, the education journalist Peg Tyre, who has long shared my views. Together, we will lay out some fundamental steps that people of good conscience might take to make sure higher education is aligned with the democratic values we share.
Let’s start with alumni. It is common to harbor fond feelings toward your alma mater. But to be a responsible, forward-looking member of your college’s extended community, look a little deeper. Make it your business to figure out exactly whom your college serves. What is the economic breakdown of the current student body? Some colleges trumpet data about underrepresented minorities and first-generation students. But many don’t. And either way, there are follow-up questions to ask. How has that mix changed over the past 10 years? What policies are in place to increase those numbers? You may not get a direct answer. No matter. When they call you as part of the annual fund-raising drive, press the issue.