The education-industrial complex

Robert Steinbuch

It's positively preposterous how palaces of purported progressive pundits preaching primarily performative pigment-and-plumbing prioritizing policies appropriate procuratores' practices when projecting publicly paid-for privilege and power.

Here's the latest example.

If issued a ticket at the University of Central Arkansas, you might be banned from the public property on which the school operates. Don't worry, they'll tell you, you can seek to undo the banishment by seeking reversal, not in court, but in a made-up school star chamber.

A Freedom of Information Act request produced hundreds of files detailing UCA's campus bans from the last three years.

One illustrative case shows the following: "A Black male answered the [dormitory room] door ... [He] is a non-student in a relationship with the occupant ... [The Police] Sergeant observed a very small amount of marijuana shake and an empty bottle of alcohol in the trash ... The male was escorted out and given a copy of the ban notification."

I'm no fan of pot, but this seems obscene.

In another case--emblematic of leftists' selective claims of inclusion--the police responded to "phone calls about a white male with no arms harassing/making UCA students uncomfortable ... [The male] stated that he was just saying hey to students and asking the students for hugs. [He] was issued a ban from UCA Campus letter and he was explained that if he was seen on UCA campus he would be arrested for Criminal Trespass. [He] could not sign the paper."

Was that a Monty Python sketch?

UCA doesn't have a policy on and didn't provide an explanation of when and pursuant to what authority it bans folks from campus.

You might have heard the phrase "judge, jury, and executioner," referring to the importance of separating for fairness the roles of authorities in the criminal-justice system. At UCA, it seems it's "police," judge, jury, and executioner. Talk about efficiency!

Due process? That's another matter.

And the ban notice-letter shows exactly that: "This letter serves to inform you that effective immediately, you are banned from the UCA campus. If you are found on University of Central Arkansas property ... you will be subject to arrest for criminal trespass ... This ban from the University of Central Arkansas campus shall last for an indefinite period of time. If you wish to contest this decision, you must contact the Dean of Students who will refer your case to the University Judicial Panel."

Only in the echo chamber of academia could someone come up with such a foolish idea of banning the public from state land merely for having been cited.

Sadly, too many public-education officials suffer from the dual infirmities of thinking themselves smarter than others and believing themselves rulers of their institutions and its inhabitants.

Oh, it's grand to be king. If it were only true.

Trespassing is a private-property concept. You can tell anyone that he's not permitted on your property. You can do it for any reason or no reason at all. And a violation of your instructions can lead to criminal charges.

But public land is owned by, well, the public. There is no individual owner who can unilaterally exclude people. And the bureaucrat who hires the landscaper is not so authorized, common delusions of grandeur notwithstanding.

So if someone is disruptive at the department of motor vehicles, government employees certainly can call the cops and have the unruly entrant ejected. But could you imagine that the potentate of revenue would thereafter decree that the misbehaver couldn't re-enter the public office? I cannot. (UCA apparently can.)

If government desires to impose sanction against a constituent member, due process is demanded. After all, cops don't issue tickets and determine guilt simultaneously, unless Boss Hogg is in control. Prisons don't unilaterally impose punishment, unless it's pre-Murton-and-Rockefeller Arkansas. Some university administrators, however, act otherwise.

But the problem of leftist-academic overreach is far broader than despotic land management.

Take the shameful behavior at Arkansas State University when it unconstitutionally and unlawfully--as the court determined--used an armed police officer to bum-rush Ashlyn Hoggard off the quadrangle for having the temerity to distribute conservative literature. (How dare she!)

And consider Stanford's most-recent leftist eruption. When conservative students invited a federal appeals judge to speak, progressive students shouted him down. After the judge requested assistance from Stanford's attending dean of diversity, equity, and inclusion, she proceeded to lecture him about how his rulings and views inflicted "harm" on Stanford's students. (Such delicate daisies.)

A few days later, both Stanford's law dean and president formally apologized. But for Ashlyn, years have passed. And still, crickets from ASU. Shameful! ASU, where's Ashlyn's overdue public apology? We're waiting.

Unfortunately, many colleges have dropped Western-civilization requirements, which convey the foundations of our system of government: individual rights, including free speech, and the recognition that government garners its power from the people. Not the other way around. Seems like some folks running Arkansas' universities could use a refresher course.

This is your right to know.

Robert Steinbuch, professor of law at the Bowen Law School, is a Fulbright Scholar and author of the treatise "The Arkansas Freedom of Information Act." His views do not necessarily reflect those of his employer.