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An unexpected victory for Hillsdale

As far as the Charger athletics program has come in the last decade — with All-Americans galore, several programs consistently competing for league titles and making NCAA tournament runs — apparently it is still academics and integrity over athletics and winning at college.

So much so that the nationally renowned Wall Street Journal recently published a column that resonated some shock-waves through my body, aptly titled “How Hillsdale Beats Harvard”.

The piece by William McGurn, a Vice President at News Corporation who writes speeches for CEO Rupert Murdoch and previously served as Chief Speechwriter for President George W. Bush, does nothing short of slap Harvard on the wrist on the account that it isn’t as committed to choosing principles over dollars in a time of such economic turmoil, something Hillsdale should be praised for.

While McGurn is a staunch Republican, which gives Hillsdale College plenty of brownie points in the debate, it is nothing short of extaordinary how often those of us who live in Hillsdale forget what kind of gem of a college sits right in our backyard.

Probably my favorite part of McGurn’s well-written piece is the following excerpt, which actually touches on the 1956 Tangerine Bowl, a proud part part of  HC’s traditionally strong approach and commitment to equality. Take a look:

Back in the 1970s the Department of Health, Education and Welfare demanded that Hillsdale begin counting its students by race and sex as a condition of federal loans some of its students were receiving. For a college whose charter was the first to declare itself open to all students “irrespective of nation, color, or sex,” this was insulting. Hillsdale, after all, was the school whose undefeated football team refused to play in the 1956 Tangerine Bowl when game officials said Hillsdale’s black players would not be allowed to join their white teammates on the field. Still, the feds persisted and in 1984 won on a related case before the Supreme Court.

By that time, however, Hillsdale had already made a decision it thought crucial for its continued independence: The college would not accept any federal dollars, including financial aid for its students.

How different this is from Harvard. On its Web page, Harvard Law School cites the university’s nondiscrimination policy and then goes on to describe how it lives up to that principle:

“The Harvard Law School makes one exception to this policy. Under threat of loss of funding to the University resulting from the Solomon Amendment, the Law School has suspended the application of its nondiscrimination policy to military recruiters.”

You don’t have to be a lawyer to get the point: Even though we are one of the world’s wealthiest universities, we’d rather make an exception to our principles than give up the money. So we’ll do what the Solomon Amendment requires and hold our noses.

Considering Hillsdale College recently opened up a small campus in Washington D.C. to send students to for a hands-on political experience, for as long as a semester at a time according to several students I’ve talked to, it seems as if the college is doing just fine in both the dollars AND sense departments right now.

Since I came to Hillsdale I’ve had nothing short of glowing respect for the college, save a few dilapatated carcasses and how them being such a private entity makes the whole journalist profession I’m knee-deep in a bit of an investigative road-block.

Nonetheless, I thought it was extremely notable that the College continues to obtain a lofty status nationwide, and being lauded by the WSJ is nothing to do a once-over about, especially when it’s something written by a key member of one of the world’s largest media conglomerates.


About rjwalters

I am what you think I am — a journalist. Actually when I was hired at my current job, which by the way is Sports Editor of the Hillsdale Daily News in Hillsdale, Mich., I applied for a position titled "Wordsmith", so at my best I'll call myself a writer attempting to be a wordsmith extraordinaire.


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