We are in Minneapolis for a few days visiting family and friends. We haven’t been here in over a year, and there have been plenty of changes. I strolled around the campus of the University of Minnesota a couple days ago, something I haven’t done in maybe a decade or more. I spent an enormous amount of time here when I was younger, both as an undergraduate in math and a grad student in philosophy, so I have memories of lots of places where I used to hang out. Many of them have disappeared, as bureaucrats have turned lounges and study halls into offices and social science laboratories. Lots of new buildings have been put up, and other things have been renovated. The best renovation I saw was that the two rickety old walk bridges going over a busy street have been replaced by bridges that are much less scary. Plus, the street is no longer busy. But most changes seemed to be for the worse. Naturally, there are lots of signs pointing out the importance of diversity, and the people I saw did look more diverse than they did when I first started. Back then it was mostly white males, but today there are a lot fewer males and many more non-whites (mostly Asians). Of course, it’s summer, so I don’t know if what I am seeing is representative. Yes, I felt a little out of place, and I expected at any moment that someone was going to shout at me not to do whatever it was I was doing at that moment, but people left me alone. I wanted to shake people and warn them, “In thirty years you won’t feel welcome here, either.”
One thing that hadn’t changed – and this is rather silly – was the men’s bathroom in the basement of what used to be called Main Engineering before its name got changed to Lind Hall. It looked old when I first used it back in the late 1960s, and today it still looks like it did back then. I mentioned this to a friend, who said that back when we were students, everything seemed old. There was only one new building on campus, and tuition was cheap. Actually, there were several new buildings, but he was just thinking of the ones he went into. But he is right: tuition was much cheaper back then. When you constantly build new buildings, and when you add lots of high-salaried administrators, naturally tuition is going to go up like a rocket. That is too bad for society’s poor, but our elites don’t care because the poor don’t count.