Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Seven Questions Parents Should Ask

. . . before sending their children off to college. Dennis Prager compiles a great list of questions for parents who, quite rightly, sense that they might be getting taken for a ride by most colleges and universities. Of course, it goes without saying that parents of Ashbrook Scholars will be more than satisfied with the answers they get.

Discussions - 22 Comments

Prager: "You could send your daughter to college more or less assured that the college would act on behalf of her welfare as you would -- meaning, for example, that boys had to leave girls dorms by a certain hour. Now, most colleges have no boys or girls dorms and do everything they can to enable boys and girls to fraternize in each other's rooms at any hour of the night and even share bathrooms."

Julie, who has the only co-ed floor in a dorm for underclassmen at AU????

"Of course, it goes without saying that parents of Ashbrook Scholars will be more than satisfied with the answers they get."

Yikes, Julie, it looks like someone didn't do their homework before posting that link! First, the co-ed dorm issue, but also -

This one, in particular, is fun:

"One would assume that a good college seeks to encourage thinking and to that end invites speakers throughout the political spectrum. If your prospective college has a speakers list that is balanced 10 to one in favor of speakers from the political left, that will help you decide whether indoctrination rather than exposure to great ideas is the university's real agenda."

Well, that's an interesting point. I know that "it goes without saying" that Ashbrook "seeks to encourage thinking and to that end invites speakers throughout the political spectrum" but let's just take a look at the speakers who have graced the Ashbrook Center with their wise words and great ideas:

Margaret Thatcher

Karl Rove

Dick Cheney

Lynne Cheney

George H.W. Bush

Henry Kissinger

Brit Hume

Benjamin Netanyahu

Bill Bennett

William Kristol

William F. Buckley

Tony Snow

...and Pat Sajak (he's a conservative, in case anyone didn't know)

That page doesn't mention other speakers such as Barbara Bush, Edwin Meese, Harry Jaffa, Jay Nordlinger, and - drum roll please - Glenn Beck.

Now if THAT is not a group that comes from every point on the sociopolitical spectrum, I don't know what would be!

I bet Prager would be quite happy to see implementation of an affirmative action plan for conservative college professors and an outcome-based hiring policy to achieve same. Fortunately, Ashbrook's already achieved a wondrous balance!

Loco parentis is just a horsesh*t concept that universities use to enforce their will on students.

Administrators spend all day telling students that they're responsible adults, but as soon as an actual question of individual adult responsibility comes up, the school falls back on Loco parentis.

I seem to recall that in the case of AU, the university uses the concept to justify its police-state tactics when it comes to off-campus activity and on-campus living.

Craig, do yourself a favor and check out the Masters of American History and Government. There is a great variety of speakers and professors from a variety of backgrounds, but more importantly, they focus on the documents by actual historical actors rather than a scholar of this or that persuasion. Moreover, when was the last time that most universities embraced broad points of view from a variety of speakers. Give me a break. Universities are the most closed-minded institutions around.

The Ashbrook dinner is primarily a fundraising opportunity. The Center's not going to bring in any money by bringing in Howard Zinn or Noam Chomsky. If you look at the Friday afternoon colloquia you'll get a better sense for that "broad spectrum."

It should be pointed out that while the Ashbrook floor is co-ed, the same visitation rules apply as everywhere else on campus: members of the opposite sex must be out of rooms by 2:00am. There are also male and female bathrooms.

As for the speakers, it's important to remember that the Ashbrook Center is not the same as Ashland University. AU has had many liberal speakers on campus over the years sponsored by other organizations on campus. Just within the last month, Sister Helen Prejean of "Dead Man Walking" fame, an outspoken death penalty opponent, was on campus. Even at the Center, just last semester Dr. Jean Edward Smith, author of FDR, led a colloquium entitled "Liberalism Without Apology" that was a defense of FDR's political philosophy. Certainly the Ashbrook Center brings in conservative speakers, but that doesn't mean that only conservative speakers are brought to the AU campus.

Ashbrook has its own co-ed floor? How delightfully forward-minded! I heartily approve.

Tony - Your response seems to indicate that because, in your view, most universities do not "embrace broad points of view from a variety of speakers" and are "the most closed-minded institutions around" then it is not a problem that Ashbrook lives down to such low expectations.

Ben Kunkel - I understand and accept that Ashland U. and the Ashbrook Ctr. are somewhat different entities, with Ashbrook operating within and under Ashland. I am curious what organizations have brought Sister Prejean and other "liberals" (Be careful in tagging her a liberal, as some of her views on other issues are typically considered the conservative position) to Ashland. Were they student groups or entities of Ashland U itself?

In any case, as Ashbrook bills itself as "independent" in some sense, and Ashbrook Scholars are held to the standards set by Ashbrook (as well as AU), the critique applied by Prager - and also Ponzi - could just as easily be applied to Ashbrook or any other academic institute, just as it could be (and is, by Prager and Ponzi) applied to a college/univ. In Prager's words, "a good college seeks to encourage thinking and to that end invites speakers throughout the political spectrum. If your prospective college has a speakers list that is balanced 10 to one in favor of speakers from the political left, that will help you decide whether indoctrination rather than exposure to great ideas is the university's real agenda." Substitute "academic center" for "college" to put Ashbrook to the test or "academic program" to put the Ashbrook Scholars program to the test. Surely Prager and Ponzi would be honest enough to acknowledge that it's ALSO a problem if the speakers list is 10-to-1 in favor of speakers from the political right, wouldn't they? Or is the point only valid when the imbalance favors those whom with you disagree?

John Moser - I skimmed through the last few years of Friday colloquia, and honestly it doesn't look much more balanced than the red-carpet fundraising events. Mark Hulliung hardly looks to be anything very liberal, nor does Gordon Lloyd. Michael Anton (operating under the "nom de plume" Nicholas Antongiovanni - please!) is literally a suit fetishist and was a speechwriter for the current Pres. Bush and for Giuliani. Who else has done Friday talks - Harry Jaffa, Claremon't Ralph Rossum, Matt Spalding of Heritage Fdtn., Elizabeth Spalding of Claremont, James Ceaser and Churchill fan James Muller. I didn't notice even any semi-famous liberal names there. Not only did Zinn not do a Friday talk, but the author of "A Patriot's History of the U.S.," Larry Schweikart, did. Where are the big liberal names? Other non-Friday speakers have been Paul Bremer, ethics guy Bob Taft, and Rich Lowry.

Lastly, what is one to make of the argument (still unproven, I think) that ONLY the fundraisers are skewed far to the right? Is Ashbrook an academic center that secretly strives for balance when the funders aren't looking, but when they are, it's time to pull out all the ultra-right stops? Why would that even be necessary? Aren't liberals supposed to be the wealthy elitists? Or is it that conservatives are just more generous?

Craig- obviously the Ashbrook Center leans right. It is named for one of the most conservative members of congress. The blog is called No Left Turns for goodness sake. As a former Ashbrook Scholar, I would just add that everyone knows that when they come. Although, that does not mean they do not provide a good education.
The education is primiarily focused on the founding, the Federalist Papers etc., and classical political philosophy, Plato and Aristotle etc. The actual curriculum is not meant to brainwash students with the current Republican Party platform. I would guess when I was there that 40% of scholars considered themselves democrats or liberals. Most professors never insert their political opinions into class. Dr. Sikkenga is famous for playing devil's advocate in the freshmen course Democracy in America. He always presents the strongest arguments against whatever a student is saying.

Craig, you're reading too much into my comments. In your original comment #3 you rattled off a list of the Ashbrook dinner speakers. That dinner is the Center's single biggest fundraising opportunity, and having a Glenn Beck, whatever you might think of him, speak at such an event brings in a lot of money.

As Jamie says, the Center certainly leans to the conservative side, but look at the subjects that the Friday colloquia speakers cover. They're not addressing public policy issues. Michael Anton was talking about suits, not politics! Who cares who he wrote speeches for? And for the record, recent speakers have also included Alonzo Hamby, Robert Remini, James McPherson, Jean Edward Smith, and Robert H. Ferrell--all of whom are Democrats. And how do you know the political orientation of Mark Hulliung (who writes about America's liberal tradition), or James Muller (does one have to be a conservative to admire Winston Churchill?)?

Finally, whatever Sister Prejean's views may be, she came to Ashland clearly to talk about capital punishment, not abortion or any of the other subjects on which she may be called conservative. She was invited as part of an ongoing program sponsored by the Department of Theater, the Ashland Center for Nonviolence, and the Office of the President. More information on the program may be found here. You'll notice from the program that it's heavily biased against capital punishment, by the way. Here at conservative Ashland. Imagine that.

My questions are largely being dodged here. The key point I want to make is that if Prager's insistence that an academic institution's speakers (notice that he didn't say "non-fundraising speakers" or some such hedging) are an indicator of whether or not the institution exists to encourage thinking or to indoctrinate, then it would seem that the Ashbrook Center has a a right-to-left speaker's ratio that leans strongly to the right, and thus exists to indoctrinate. Perhaps Ashland University can be treated as a more serious institution, but Ashbrook, by the Prager standard, can't.

Also, which are more important events at Ashbrook, the Friday colloquium or the "special events," the "Ashbrook Memorial Dinner" (you had Glenn Beck for THAT?), or the "Major Issues Lecture" (don't make me check the right-left balance for THAT one!)?

I fail to see how having a conservative speaker who "brings in a lot of money" explains or excuses much of anything. Again, is the idea that a speaker for a fundraiser somehow can't be counted as indicative of an institution's agenda to indoctrinate? Why are they exempt from any calculation of imbalance? It's surely not self-evident. You could probably bring in money by having Michael Moore or Obama give a speech, too.

A recurring subject here at NLT has been the crazy professors, classes and speeches of the Left. But somehow a talk about suits and putting an academic sheen on the "dress for success" mantra passes muster?

No, one needn't be a conservative to admire specific aspects of Churchill, but probably to be the academic chairman of The Churchill Center in DC, well, I doubt that's much of a liberal hangout...

At the risk of reading too much into your words by reading your words, it seems that you're claiming (by cherry-picking - care to tally percentages?) that there's balance at Ashbrook when the speakers are (self-) limited to elaborating about suits or arcane academic matters. [I should also point out (again) that a Democrat does not necessarily a liberal make, by any stretch.] But what about where the left-right divide (that Prager is really speaking of, The Culture War stuff) matters, on the public policy issues? There again, it seems clear and obvious that the speakers skew heavily to the right, and I don't mean they're mostly Republicans. Actually, many of them probably cling to the conservative label much more than the partisan GOP label (esp. these days!). Glenn Beck is a good example of that. But only an idiot would mistake him for a Dem or a liberal.

So, I think that if one accepts Prager's ideological-balance-in-speakers criterion for determining the seriousness of an institution, one must concede, however grudgingly, that The Ashbrook Center is ultimately an institution for indoctrination, not education. That, or you have to reject Prager's criterion as flawed - or only applying when the speakers ratio favors liberal-to-leftist ideas. And that is not a serious idea, is it? It's probably just easier to distance oneself from Prager on this one than to slam the home team.

I don't think collapsing the distinction between a "center" and a "university" is fair. By Craig's standard, every organization within a university must be politically-balanced in all that it does. Even as a conservative and an employee of the Center, I certainly accept that it is educationally useful and beneficial to the students at AU that other organizations bring in liberals to campus for lectures. Nothing that the Center does prevents anyone else on campus from bringing in liberals. And they do.

The Center is not the sole entity responsible for the entire education of the students in the Ashbrook Scholar Program. Before you judge the Center, Craig, I suggest you actually listen to what our students have to say. As Jamie stated, we have a fair number of liberals in the program. Some of our best students, in fact, are Democrats. They get high marks in their political science and history classes in spite of the fact that they disagree politically with the majority of the professors teaching them the subject. If the Program were about indoctrination, why is it that liberals can and do receive A's (no easy task, I assure you) in such classes? If the Program were about indoctrination, why do these students stay in the Program instead of going somewhere else that was more like-minded?

As for which events are most important, I don't think any event is presented to the students as being more important than another. In fact, their attendance is required at all of our events. Certainly there is more of an air of excitement surrounding the Memorial Dinner because it is with a more prominent speaker typically, but that doesn't mean it is more important than the others or that attendance is more stringently monitored at that event than at any other.

Your assertion that the Center could raise money with liberal speakers is not really accurate. We have a constituency that we serve within the community. Our donors have certain expectations with our speakers for the Memorial Dinner. We are a conservative organization. I don't think anyone has ever suggested otherwise. Our donors, by and large, are also conservative. Thus, they are not likely to spend $250 for a ticket to see Michael Moore or Barack Obama. So why would we do something that would render our most important fundraising event of the year into an under-attended event that lost us money and offended our donors? Would a liberal political center be wise to bring in Ann Coulter for an important fundraising event?

As for the liberal-to-conservative ratio of our speakers, again, I don't think anyone here that is associated with the Center has suggested that we bring in equal percentages of liberals to conservatives. We are, fundamentally, a conservative organization. Our students know that, our donors know that, others on campus know that, and I'm sure that the readers of NLT know that (the blog's title is a bit of a clue, no?). But our speakers are not screened for being conservative before we invite them. I am generally unaware of the political leanings of a vast majority of the speakers that we invite because it isn't discussed. Some are obvious. When we have Congressmen come in who are Republicans, it can be safely assumed that they lean conservative. But, for instance, we had Jeremy Bailey here last Friday to discuss Jefferson. I have no clue whether or not Dr. Bailey is a conservative or a liberal. And it doesn't matter. What matters is he wrote an interesting and thoughtful book about an important figure in American political history and it was beneficial to our students to hear him talk about it.

In the end, as I said at the beginning, it makes no sense to apply Prager's criterion to a single institution at a university unless that institution is solely responsible for all of the education that a student will receive at that university. That certainly is not the case with the Ashbrook Center. I think any reasonable judgment of AU would show that it has a great deal more political balance than most institutions of higher learning and that is what should matter to prospective students.

This has been, in certain respects, an interesting thread. I should point out that Julie Ponzi's initial post referenced Ashbrook as a positive model, and not Ashland U, but that's all open to interpretation I suppose.

But here's the rub. While you individually might see an inherent value in a wide variety of views being aired and discussed (and for this I mean something wider than the spectrum between conservative Dems and conservative Repubs) in an academic setting, I don't think that any real value is placed on the concept of ideological "balance" by either Prager (who pretty clearly is only bothered by liberal speakers being in the majority at a school) or by Ashbrook on the whole. Ashbrook doesn't really bill itself as being a quality institution because of the diversity of views of its professors or guest speakers, nor does it promote its place WITHIN Ashland as a way to balance the regular conservatism that is fed to students at Ashbrook. And, if what you say is true, that Ashbrook Scholars are required to attend all Ashbrook events (please don't tell me that all students of the entire univ. are required to go!), then that actually makes the Ashbrook Scholars program look even more like some low-intensity attempt at indoctrination. The fact that Democrats and/or liberals go through the program or finish it with high marks doesn't necessarily negate the possibility of indoctrination. Not all indoctrination functions like a scene from an Orwell novel. It can be subtle, low-key and even unsuccessful to some extent.

Further, small colleges that seem to operate as larger (and sometimes more explicitly Christian) versions of what Ashbrook does are routinely cheered on here at NLT, even if they are operating as whole and independent entities, not within a larger entity as Ashbrook does. There would seem to be no objections to a (conservative) mirror opposite of what Prager is warning parents about, despite his use of the merits of ideological balance as a selling point for worthy schools.

One thing seems certain - if Ashbrook split off from Ashland Univ. and operated in the same way it does now, it would be operating as a conservative school meant to indoctrinate conservatives. The only possible thing that prevents that now is that Ashbrook is part of Ashland U.

Again, I'd say it would be easier to reject Prager on this one...

Seven Questions:

1. What will my kid learn in 4 years that I didn't teach him/her in 18?

2. How much will employers really value his diploma?

3. Is my kid college material

4. What will make him/her happy in life, and will college and what that leads to add or subtract?

5. What values and habits will be taught or learned by him/her while in college?

6. If I just gave my kid 100k right now could he/she invest it in a more useful way?

7. Why am I even thinking about this?

I don't have a lot more to add at this point except a few points.

First, we require our students to attend our events because the events are for them. Scholars that repeatedly miss events without any excuse are demonstrating a lack of interest in our program. In such cases, we'd prefer to give our scholarship money to another student who is interested. I don't think it's evidence of indoctrination that we require students to attend. We spend money to make these events happen. We expect our students to be the audience or we wouldn't spend the money in the first place. I sincerely doubt this is unique among programs of this nature.

Second, your apparent definition of "indoctrination" would seem to indict any program that has a point of view. It also seems that you believe college-age students to be incapable of consistent independent thought. I don't believe that a program with a point of view is automatically trying to indoctrinate its students, but from what you have written, it would appear that you do.

"Second, your apparent definition of "indoctrination" would seem to indict any program that has a point of view. It also seems that you believe college-age students to be incapable of consistent independent thought. I don't believe that a program with a point of view is automatically trying to indoctrinate its students, but from what you have written, it would appear that you do. "

Studies have shown that students are only incapable of independent thought when assailed by left-leaning instructors. When indoctrinated by righties, then we can assume that their eerily similar mutterings are the result of clear, independent, and "liberal" (read "free) reflection.

Your sarcasm is palpable but unfortunately rather true. College students who become little radicals and grad students who ape their mentors and advisors think they've set their mind free, but are usually the most indoctrinated people around and rarely even comprehend that people can reasonably have a different point of view than them. They after all have the "truth" which they put in quotes and don't believe in anyway. That's enough.

People who are concerned about real intellectual diversity should be less concerned about the Center's Annual Dinner speaker list and more concerned by the fact that fully half of the university's political science faculty is now made up of graduates of the University of Dallas. Such disproportionate representation of one Ph.D. program is unheard of - especially one as second rate as Dallas.

Those who know Ashland U. presumably can defend it from these sorts of charges, and they should speak up...but for the sake of argument, let's accept the stereotype of Ashland as discouraging intellectual diversity from the right. And again for the sake of argument, let's apply that stereotype to other small liberal arts colleges that are either explicitly conservative (Hillsdale, obviously) or a) whose religious affiliation is expressed in a theologically conservative manner that often dovetails with political conservatism, or b)tend to have more of the central humanities/social-sci departments dominated by conservative academics than not. And then let's note that these sorts institutions are flourishing, are definitely an academic growth industry, along with "centers" such as Ashland's.

And then let's ask the question, assuming the worst as Scanlon does, whose fault is it that these institutions are flourishing? Or to put it more mildly, is there not a pretty strong connection with the growth of these institutions and the rampant and deeply rooted bias that determines the shape of most departments in most of the major universities and colleges? Prager mentions the 31-1 ratio of Dems to Repubs at U Colorado, and the numbers are almost as bad at most major institutions, but Scanlon wants to put lil' old Ashland U. (which is hardly shy about advertising the perspective it tends to design the curriculum by and teach from--unlike the feigned neutrality of Duke and co.) under the hypocrisy microscope!

The real question is, do you want something like a Red/Blue division in higher education? The current system will be sustained by the old prestige card for a while, but give the UTTER REFUSAL of the major institutions to admit that 31-1 is a wee PROBLEM, we will gradually see more and more Ashlands, etc. And some of them will err on the indoctrination side. The "where were you educated?" question, will no longer solely focus on prestige, but will increasingly have to be seen as conveying key ideological information. Want another Civil War? Keep making arguments like Scanlon does, so you can keep yourself in denial about the awfulness of the 31-1 problem.

Ben Kunkel: "First, we require our students to attend our events because the events are for them. Scholars that repeatedly miss events without any excuse are demonstrating a lack of interest in our program."

As Mr. Moser already mentioned, some of the required events are "primarily a fundraising opportunity". If so, then I think it's entirely debatable just how much such events are for the students.

Further, perhaps scholars that miss events are demonstrating a lack of interest in that speaker, or the 7th conservative speaker out of 8 speakers they've ever heard at Ashbrook.

"I don't believe that a program with a point of view is automatically trying to indoctrinate its students, but from what you have written, it would appear that you do." Well, if we're following Prager's standard (and presumably Mrs. Ponzi's), then it would appear they think likewise, as the message of that standard is that ideological imbalance in speakers indicates that "indoctrination rather than exposure to great ideas is the university's real agenda."

I just took a look at the Ashbrook Scholars page that Mrs. Ponzi orginally linked to, and it is more revealing on this subject than I would have guessed. First, there's this:

"Ashbrook Scholars not only know American history but also understand what it means to be an American and why our country merits their affection. They come to understand that their country, the United States of America, is not only the most powerful and the most prosperous country on earth, but also that it is the most free and the most just. During their four years at the Center, both in and out of the classroom, they learn why this is so."

"They come to understand...", "this is so." Ummm....and if they don't? If they have some reservations about those things? Are they asked to leave or do they just get bad marks for failing to understand? Yes, yes, I suppose this too is for fundraising purposes. Suppose a student entered Ashbrook NOT knowing these things, and therefore was all that much more enthused to learn about them, but in the end didn't feel that the case had been made for these conclusions? This is surely soft indoctrination. Yes, it allows for a certain rate of failure in the indoctrination (my guess is that Matt Mingus has finished the program not "understanding" many things in the prescribed Ashbrook way - I trust that he was still given fair marks), but on the whole it's designed to create, groom, and fine-tune social and political ideologues and warriors more than honest scholars. Strauss would likely smile on that, no? There's more (from the Ashbrook page):

"Ashbrook Scholars interned at The White House, the Heritage Foundation, The Fund for American Studies, The Weekly Standard, Fox News, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Center for Equal Opportunity, The American Conservative Union, The Institute of United States Studies at The University of London, The Washington Times, The Vatican, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and various offices in state and national government."

There were a couple there I had no familiarity with so I checked the Fund for American Studies and there's William F. Buckley, and the Center for Equal Opportunity and I get Linda Chavez. The last one describes itself as "the nation’s only conservative think tank devoted to issues of race and ethnicity." I can only hope that just the right-wing internships are highlighted here for fundraising purposes (are Ashbrook's web pages aimed more to funders or to prospective students?) rather than being part of a list of acceptable or required internships.

So, should Prager or Ponzi be surprised that, after all these right-wing speakers and internships at conservative think tanks, this is what a successful Ashbrook alum has to say?

"The classes and the events provided by the Program engendered in me a deep sense of patriotism, and a heightened understanding and appreciation of the founding principles of our nation."

The Program - it would be funnier if it were a testimonial for Scientology!

Surely it's a safe bet that this is someone who will NOT vote for someone who doesn't wear a U.S. flag lapel pin.

Carl Scott, I think the main flaw in your analysis is the assumption that a given population, if educated in a truly balanced and open-ended, scholarly fashion, will end up being 50% Dem and 50% Republican. I don't know what the split would be if such an education of a group were achieved, but I don't pretend that it would be even and it could possibly be lopsided in either direction.

But you are right in your implication that Ashbrook is filling a market niche. Ashbrook students and, perhaps even more so their parents and Ashbrook funders, get what they pay for, and apparently they're paying for generous helpings of conservatism.

Craig the fact that you have gotten the ashbrook center to speak on this issue is rather ammazing! The Ashbrook center makes money in part by convincing donors that they are in fact indoctrinating students. But this is semantics...indoctrination or education? Outside of the hard sciences or questions of technique: Outside of the how to questions...everything is indoctrination. If the ashbrook center tries to indoctrinate students it is remarkably erratic in application. It does mannage to turn democrats into republican congressional aides and pot smoking hippies into Cartesian conservative constitutional law types...amazing! But it also mannages to convert in the other direction as well. All in all the ashbrook center is probably one of the best parts of Ashland University. Dr. Tiel in the philosophy department and Dr. Sikkenga in political science boost it considerably. Ashland University is certainly not worth 100k, but no one I know pays that much. Potentially Ashland University is worth far more than 100k but so is any other university depending on what the student puts into it. Basically the student effort component is the central issue. In any case the cost of the Ashbrook "Program" is -$2000 or the amount that the student doesn't have to pay Ashland otherwise with cost being added for the time spent listening to "biased" speakers. Now if you assume passive brain washing the ashbrook program is probably not worth the extra $2000 you would save, unless you are already inclined towards being brain washed in that direction and count it as a form of entertainment in which case it is an additional bonus in terms of not having to spend money going to expensive endoctrination seminars and conventions. If on the other hand you engage in socratic rebuttal, and engage your fellow students on the material discussed, if you are constantly argueing/debating/ are learning or at least refining your indoctrination. The cost of such "work", indeed the cost of the "program" is your opportunity cost...that which you forgo doing with the time you spend debating other students. Perhaps you forgo binge drinking, smoking pot, having sex, gambling, general carousing, hanging out alone lamenting a lack of culture, working a job, volunteering, studying, praying, eating, working out, sleeping...excetera... In general the cost of the ashbrook center is greater the more you assume the students would be doing "beneficial" activities otherwise, and generally the cost is negative if you assume that students would be "partying" otherwise. If Students were all knowing angels the ashbrook center would be an evil despite its scholarship. Of course how you would go about assigning moral value to competing opportunity costs when you move beyond strawmen extremes such as contrasting date rape and Socrates or binge drinking and volunteer work is a question for the morally indoctrined.

All in all I would hazzard a guess that the ashbrook center has an average value of -2000 + -5000. I think the benefit from the Ashbrook center would be higher among those who enjoy its endoctrination. Yet it would be higher still among those who sought out truth. It would also be higher among those who would otherwise do evil or lesser good. It would be lower among those few angels would would be more "productive" otherwise.

The Ashbrook program is filling a market niche of sorts, but I am not sure that some of those who appreciate that niche are not like Craig Scanlon. I also dispute the effectiveness of the "program" indoctrination. I dispute the effectiveness of all indoctrination. Indoctrination is habit, indoctrination is custom, indoctrination is agreement upon first principles that are themselves not completly justifiable. Semantics is indoctrination. I don't really dispute the power of indoctrination. In a sense I agree with Hegel and think we are all trapped or indoctrinated into the age in which we dwell...nor is it perhaps healthy to be quite so adamant about transcending the Zeitgeist...but the power to control all the factors one would need to control in order to trully do so? The United States Army can achieve partial and imperfect control in boot camp...but human beings are proud obstinate and contrarian. Quite beyond the power of the Ashbrook Center...

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