Yesterday we beat up on some of the foolishness happening on LSU’s campus just in time for the legislature to attempt to figure out how to keep from imposing a budget cut of some $60 million on the state’s flagship university.
Lest we give the impression that the activity at LSU which calls in question just how prudent an investment its funding is out of our tax dollars is unique in any way, today we offer something from the university across town…
The Rev. Jeremiah Wright, a former spiritual adviser to President Barack Obama, is slated to speak at Southern University next month.
According to the university, Wright — who has been a lightning rod and controversial figure for Obama critics throughout Obama’s presidency — was invited to give the public speech on campus by College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Dean William Arp.
“I think Pastor Wright will deliver a very interesting and powerful message,” Arp said in a news release.
Well, why not? Southern’s already had Louis Farrakhan as a speaker on campus – why not Jeremiah Wright?
You would think now would be a time in which the people running the state’s public four-year schools would be on their absolute best behavior, and that their activities and expenditures would be most amenable to scrutiny.
But Jeremiah Wright isn’t going to speak at Southern out of the goodness of his heart. Jeremiah Wright charges speaking fees. In this case, it might well be that Southern is merely providing the venue and the leftist community organizing group PICO – People Improving Communities through Organizing, whose role in ginning up churches to serve left-wing agendas in Louisiana we’ve touched on before – is actually paying Wright to speak next month.
Either way, Jeremiah Wright as a headline speaker on campus just a few weeks before the legislature convenes to try to find a way to save a vulnerable university like Southern, which has faced a stark decline in enrollment and continually struggles with relevance as more of its prospective students choose community college or opts for universities not historically defined as “black” schools. Nationally, less than 10 percent of black college students enroll in HBCU’s like Southern, and in Louisiana their relevance is under increasing challenge as well. Consider that this past fall LSU counted 3,415 African-American students on its campus, while Southern’s total enrollment is listed as 5,162 for the fall of 2014; we couldn’t find numbers as to how many of those students are black, but one imagines a sizable majority are. The point being that LSU has almost as many black students on campus as Southern does, and it’s hardly a stretch to assume LSU’s black students are probably on average stronger academically than Southern’s are.
So Southern probably needs to start burnishing its image as a place where real academic work is done and where quality graduates emerge ready to become productive members of society. Instead, it’s advertising itself as a place where racist cranks like Farrakhan and Wright come to spew their bile at taxpayer-provided public venues.
This isn’t smart. It’s a mistake. And when the legislature starts trying to figure out how to cover its fiscal shortfall Southern is going to have a particular problem with a lot of the legislators making the case for taxes on their constituents or cuts elsewhere to support more speeches from Jeremiah Wright.