25.7.17

THREAT BY WALLET, IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST.

We have rent-seeking in part because it's cheaper and easier for people with a lot to gain or lose from a government policy to influence the structure of the government and shape its laws ahead of time, rather than fight an away match in a government-operated court backed up by government-financed guns.

But universities might not enjoy the same sorts of resources, and perhaps the only way to concentrate a few minds in Student Affairs is to entangle them in lawsuits.
Maybe there are a few parents who would think twice about sending their kids to schools with the most egregious problems — Amherst and Yale are two that stand out. But individual tuitions are not enough.

Frankly it’s going to take some big lawsuits to change colleges’ calculations, and that’s why it’s a shame (but not an accident) that the amount of the Columbia settlement was undisclosed. The administration doesn’t want to encourage more plaintiffs to come forward at Columbia or elsewhere.
The hothouses with the large endowments might be able to settle a few lawsuits.  The point of the column is to note that less prosperous institutions might be more circumspect about emulating the excesses of Student Affairs as practiced by the hothouses if there's a greater risk of being sued for falsely accusing, then suspending or otherwise penalizing, a student.

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