]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]     THE PRICE OF INDEPENDENCE        [[[[[[[[[[[[ 
                         By George Roche              (1/13/1989)
[Dr  Roche has  been President  of Hillsdale  College (Hillsdale,
Michigan 49242) since 1971.  He is also a Marine veteran.]
                  [From IMPRIMIS, January 1989]

            [Kindly uploaded by Freeman 10602PANC]

   In  March  of  1988, the  United  States  Congress  overrode a
presidential veto of a  piece of legislation by  a vote of 365 to
257, thus precipitating the  greatest single extension of federal
power in this century.  No doubt, most Americans are unaware that
such  an event  took place.   Few  have ever  heard of  the Civil
Rights Restoration Act, but sooner or later they will, because it
will dramatically affect their lives in the years to come.
   What  the passage  of  this act  betrays  is how  far  we have
strayed from  our understanding of  constitutional government and
our historical  commitment to  individual liberty.   What does it
do?  It guarantees  that where government  money goes, government
surely  follows.  And  as story-tellers  were  once wont  to say,
thereby hangs a tale.
   At Hillsdale  College, a small  school in  rural Michigan, the
tale begins in  1844, when a group  of local church congregations
founded  a  liberal  arts  college,  independent  of  any  church
sanction, setting up its operations  in a rented storefront.  The
first handful of students  included a woman who  was the first in
Michigan to be  admitted to college  on par with  men in a degree
program, and the future founder of a major black university.
   But  from the  outset, the  founders of  the College  shared a
grand  vision.   They  declared  that  Hillsdale  College  was an
independent, nonsectarian institution  of higher learning founded
by  men  and   women  ``grateful  to   God  for  the  inestimable
blessings''  resulting  from  civil  and  religious  liberty  and
``believing that  the diffusion of  learning is  essential to the
perpetuity  of these  blessings.''   It further  stated  that the
College's  objective  was  ``to  furnish  all  persons  who wish,
irrespective  of nation,  color, sex,  a literary  and scientific
education'' outstanding  among American  colleges and  to combine
with  this  ``such  moral and  social  instruction  as  will best
develop the minds and improve the hearts of its pupils.''
   Today,  the   mission  statement  also   adds:  ``the  College
considers  itself  a  trustee of  modern  man's  intellectual and
spiritual  inheritance  from the  Judaeo-Christian  tradition and
Greco-Roman culture,  a heritage finding  its clearest expression
in the American experiment of self-government under law.
   ``By training the young in the liberal arts, Hillsdale College
prepares students  to become leaders  worthy of  that legacy.  By
encouraging the scholarship of its faculty, it contributes to the
preservation of that legacy  for future generations.  By publicly
defending that  legacy, it  enlists the  aid of  other friends of
free  civilization and  thus secures  the  conditions of  its own
survival and independence.''
   Nearly 150 years after the  founding of Hillsdale College, its
mission  is  still  clear,  the  resolve  still  firm.  Hillsdale
College offers its 1100-1200  students a traditional liberal arts
education,  including  Greek, Latin  and  Christian  studies.  It
maintains   single-sex  dormitories,   an   honor  code,   and  a
campus-wide social policy regarding good conduct.  And it doesn't
keep records of  its students' and  staff members' race, religion
or ethnic background, or use  such criteria to determine how they
ought to  be treated.  Above  all, it is  distinguished from most
other  schools  by the  fact  that in  its  century-and-a-half of
existence accepted federal funds.  Today, three out of every four
dollars in need-based tuition aid to public and private education
comes from the federal government -- but not at Hillsdale.
   In the summer of 1975,  all colleges and universities received
a bulletin  from the (then)  Department of  Health, Education and
Welfare   declaring   that  under   pending   affirmative  action
legislation  (which  subsequently  became   law)  they  would  be
required  to  sign  a  statement  attesting  that  they  were  in
compliance  with a  variety  of government  regulations regarding
discrimination.   Signing  meant that  these  same  schools would
thereafter be compelled to  report detailed information about the
race, gender  and ethnic  origin of  all students  and employees.
Hiring and  admission practices as  well as a  multitude of other
procedures   were   to   be   hereafter   scrutinized.   Watchdog
affirmative  action  programs  were  to  be  installed,  at  each
school's  expense, on  many  campuses to  ensure  that government
racial and sexual quotas were being enforced.
   Significantly, under Title IX legislation, the definition of a
``recipient institution'' was revised.  Under the old definition,
a school which  received direct federal  subsidies was subject to
federal control.  Now,  under the new  definition, a school which
merely accepted students  who had federal grants  or loans was to
be classified  as a recipient  institution, forcing  it to accept
the same  control as directly  subsidized schools.   This is much
like  telling   a  mom-and-pop   grocery  store   that  accepting
customers'  food stamps  makes the  store a  ward of  the federal
government.
   A  handful of  schools didn't  return their  compliance forms,
hoping they would  be lost in the  leviathan's computer.  But, in
the fall of 1975, the  trustees of Hillsdale College decided that
Title IX was such a serious  assault on the school's freedom that
we simply could not  accept it.  We sent  a letter to HEW telling
its officers so.  We  were the only school  in the United States,
large or small, that notified  the federal government that we had
no  intention  of  signing  away our  rights,  and  that  we were
prepared to make a legal issue of the matter.
   For  five  years,  Hilsdale stood  alone,  insisting  that the
federal   government   had   overstepped   its   authority.   Our
stubbornness attracted  wide notice; Hillsdale  became a powerful
symbol  to a  very substantial  national audience.   People often
referred  to  Hillsdale  as  David  struggling  against  Goliath.
Readership for the College's  monthly publication, IMPRIMIS, grew
from 1,000 in 1971 to 50,000, and then 100,000 names.  (It is now
fast approaching  the 200,000  mark.)  People  from all  walks of
life let us know that they were glad someone was refusing to bend
to  federal pressure  and was  willing  to take  a firm  stand in
opposition to government intrusion.
   Just  as  Hillsdale  has  symbolized  independence  to  people
nationwide, the school has meant something quite different to the
federal  government: A  very large  pain in  the neck.   In other
words,  an institution  unwilling  to compromise  its principles,
untempted by the  lure of federal  dollars, preferring freedom of
choice  and  self-reliance  to  dependence  on  government.   But
eventually they had to face us in the courtroom.
   Between 1975 and 1980, we  developed our legal case.  We hired
attorneys  and  spent  about  half  a  million  dollars  on legal
expenses.  We endured a series of  hearings, and then a series of
trials.   And then,  suddenly, one  of the  schools who  had been
``hiding in the computer''  popped up.  Pennsylvania's Grove City
College was challenged by HEW.  The school's directors came to us
for  help,  and  we  put our  own  resources  at  their disposal,
including the  details of  the constitutional  case which  we had
painstakingly built in the previous five years.
   So the two cases -- Grove City's and Hillsdale's -- made it to
the Circuit  Court of Appeals,  theirs in the  Second Circuit and
ours  in  the  Sixth.   One  step  short  of  the  Supreme Court,
Hillsdale won its case by a 2-1 split decision.  Grove City fared
less well.  The school lost on the appeals level and its case was
taken  to the  Supreme Court.   The brief  presented in  the case
which  became  known around  the  world  as Grove  City  v. Bell,
although not attributed as such, was Hillsdale's.
   In February of 1984, the  justices rendered a decision.  Their
first conclusion was that if  an individual college or university
department was  found engaging in  discriminatory practices, only
that department, not  the whole institution,  could be penalized.
This ``program-specific'' portion of the decision was hailed as a
victory.   However,  the   justices  went  on   to  uphold  HEW's
definition of  a recipient institution.   A single  Pell grant or
National Direct  Student Loan spent  on our  campus, for example,
makes  Hillsdale  College  a  recipient  institution  exposed  to
unlimited federal interference.  Today,  even the G.I. Bill isn't
exempt; veterans have  no right to  attend a school  of their own
choosing without jeopardizing that same school's independence.
   Once  again,  Hillsdale responded.   We  notified  the federal
government that the College would  no longer accept students with
federal grants and loans.  Instead, we would offer candidates who
qualified for  admission private  sources of  financial aid.  The
issue  was  not  just  shielding  ourselves,  but  protecting our
students.  In the  first year, this  resolve cost about $250,000;
today  the figure  is  nearly $600,000,  which  we must  raise in
addition to all our other scholarship and aid obligations.
   Why has the  expense skyrocketed?  You  often hear college and
university presidents complaining  that the Reagan administration
has gutted higher education, but  that is pure nonsense.  Federal
aid to  education has  increased 70  percent in  the last several
years.  And a school  like Hillsdale which refuses  to sup at the
federal trough is forced to compete in a market in which the odds
are against us.
   I'll  repeat an  earlier statistic:  three  out of  every four
dollars in  need-based tuition  aid to  education comes  from the
federal government.   If that doesn't  take your  breath away, it
ought to.   Thirty years ago,  when federal aid  to education was
being  debated for  the  first time,  the  big argument  was over
whether federal  funding would  result in  federal control.  ``Of
course  not!'' was  the assurance  we received  from many  of our
political  leaders.   ``Why  in   the  world  would  the  federal
government want to meddle with  academic freedom?  All we want to
do is lend a hand to education ....''
   Disingenuous  or  not, the  assurances  proved  false.  During
Hillsdale's ten years in the  courts, the bureaucracy proved time
and time again  that what it  was interested in  was power, plain
and simple.  Never once was  the allegation raised that Hillsdale
discriminated -- we were in the anti-discrimination business over
a  century  before the  government  ever  found out  there  was a
problem -- yet we were hauled into court, just the same.  Looking
at  the  hundreds  of  federally-imposed  restrictions  on school
hiring, tenure and admissions policies  can anyone doubt that the
real issue is government control?
   The 1984 Supreme  Court decision was  far from the  end of the
story.  The liberal  faction in Congress  was determined to apply
it  to  every business  and  organization in  the  United States.
Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy  teamed up with liberal Republican
Senator Lowell  Weicker to  concoct the  Civil Rights Restoration
Act.  They offered it in session after session of Congress.  Lots
of people,  including me, testified  against it.   The third time
around, however, they triumphed  resoundingly over a presidential
veto.   As  I  have  said,   the  Civil  Rights  Restoration  Act
represents the greatest single  extension of federal authority in
our lifetime, perhaps in our history.  It stipulates that federal
aid in any form, touching an organization in any way, makes it --
lock, stock and barrel --  subject to federal control.  Churches,
hospitals, family businesses -- none are exempt from its sweeping
provisions.
   How could such  a law sail  through Congress?  Well,  it had a
great  title, for  starters.  The  words ``civil  rights'' bestow
magical protection these days.   Few politicians have the courage
to  go on  record as  voting  against any  bill related  to civil
rights,  even  if  it may  actually  encourage  unequal treatment
before the law  or other abuses of  individual rights.  This lack
of courage is  aggravated by the  fact that business  as usual in
the  House  and  Senate   means  routinely  passing  1,000  page,
pork-laden bills which no member  fully supports, much less reads
in  their entirety.   They couldn't  if they  wanted to;  this is
legislation by  the pound  and the weight  of it  is crushing the
American people.
   With the  Civil Rights  Restoration Act,  we have  been sold a
bill of goods wrapped  in a tissue of  deception.  Where once the
blind-folded goddess of justice was supposed to view all who came
before her with  impartiality, this new law  compels her to peek:
``Tell me your race,  your creed, your sex,  and then I will tell
you how I will treat you.['']   That isn't justice; it is racism,
it  is sexism.   It will  also  force the  kind of  ``equality of
result'' rather than ``equality  of opportunity'' tests that have
done so much to harm American higher education upon society.
   The financial  and administrative  cost of  doing business and
delivering  services will  rise  tremendously.  In  the  end, the
burden,  the  penalties  and  the  inconvenience  will  rest most
heavily on  the individual  citizens who  depend on  low-cost and
rapid service  for their  needs.  More  often than  not, they are
members of racial  minorities, the handicapped,  the elderly, the
poor  --  the  very  persons  the  Civil  Rights  Restoration Act
purports to protect.
   And for what?  To ensure that no one is discriminated against,
that no one  is treated unfairly.   The goal is  a noble one, but
there are  already ample  statutes, enforcement  powers and court
rulings  to see  the goal  progressively better  realized.  There
comes a point  at which granting  ever broader enforcement powers
to  government and  imposing  even more  stringent  reporting and
compliance requirements  on our  public and  private institutions
becomes counterproductive.
   That  point  has   been  reached  now   as  the  Civil  Rights
Restoration Act  tries to, in  the words of  one observer, ``kick
down  a door  that is  already  open.''  It  harms those  who are
passing through the open door of equal opportunity in our society
and those already working in good faith to hold the door open.
   The  prospect  of   this  kind  of   federal  intervention  is
frightening, but  not without  precedent.  We  have been allowing
the government more and more  control over our public and private
lives  for years.   Nowhere is  this  clearer than  in education.
What  originated  as  local   schooling  supported  by  immediate
communities (and was  therefore somewhat responsive  to local and
parental wishes) has inexorably  moved toward bureaucratic binges
and isolation.
   Hillsale College  will survive.  We  will continue  to pay the
price of protecting  our independence.  Moreover,  we have proved
that  you  don't need  government  money  in order  to  become an
American  success  story.   The next  battle  may  come  over tax
exemption;  after  all,  the IRS  has  already  declared  that it
regards tax exemption  as a subsidy rather  than as a recognition
of  independent  status.  That  we  will be  challenged  again is
certain, for our very  existence is a rebuke  and a threat to the
bureaucrats who desire complete  control.  But Hillsdale's future
is not the only thing at stake: the real issue is whether society
can  survive  without the  freedom  which this  little  school so
ardently champions.

``Reprinted by permission  from IMPRIMIS, the  monthly journal of
Hillsdale College, featuring  presentations at Hillsdale's Center
for Constructive  Alternatives and  at its  Shavano Institute for
National Leadership.''

                    *      *      *


Return to the ground floor of this tower
Return to the Main Courtyard
Return to Fort Freedom's home page