While many have commented on the eight year decline in college enrollments in the United States, no one, to my knowledge, has noted that most of that fall in the number attending college in the past four years is concentrated among men. Between 2015 and 2019, according to the National College Clearinghouse, the number of men on campuses declined by 691,643, almost double the smaller fall among women, 348,955. In percentage terms, the male decline of 8.34 % was far more than double that among women, 3.18%.
Women have for decades outnumbered men in America’s colleges. In 2015, there were 32% more women than men, but now the differential is nearly 40%. For every five men, there are seven women. The fundamental question is why —not only do far more women attend college than men, but why is the differential growing noticeably in the past few years?
While several factors may be at work, I think at least part of the reason is a perception among males that colleges dislike them —or at least do not like them as much as women. There are several forms of discrimination against males that are increasingly turning men off to the collegiate experience. They don’t like being second class citizens.
Some forms of gender discrimination are seemingly rather mild and well intended. For example, noting male domination of enrollment in some of the STEM disciplines such as engineering and mathematics, some schools have created Women in Science scholarships, research grants, or the like to encourage more women to enter these fields. Curiously, though, I do not see attempts to right the gender imbalance favoring females in most other disciplines, including some relatively high paying fields like nursing (where roughly 90 % of graduates are female).
But the past decade has seen many examples of more blatant maltreatment of men on campus. The U.S. Department of Education’s 2011 “guidance” in sexual assault cases led to colleges pursuing brutal, and in my judgment, un-American, Spanish Inquisition type actions in sexual assault cases. Males accused of sexual assault were often denied opportunities to cross-examination accusers, were denied effective use of legal counsel, often denied the right to present exculpatory evidence, and sometimes judged by the very persons prosecuting them. KC Johnson’s book with Stuart Taylor, The Campus Rape Frenzy: The Attack on Due Process at America’s Universities, outlines scores of cases of injustices directed exclusively towards men. And the number of judicial decisions favoring males poorly treated in college Kangaroo Courts has soared in recently years.
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