Safe spaces may become empty spaces at the University of Missouri, where officials acknowledged an expected sharp decline in enrollment next fall is due at least in part to protests that rocked the campus last fall.
The school is braced for a 25 percent drop in new students this coming fall, forcing the institution to enact painful budget cuts, as well as hiring and salary freezes.
“We do know that the events of last fall have had an effect on our application numbers; however, it’s difficult to provide a specific number as we do not have any hard data," University of Missouri spokesman Christian Basi said in a statement to Foxnews.com.
“We do know that the events of last fall have had an effect on our application numbers..."
- Mizzou spokesman
Basi said there are other factors contributing to the decline, including fewer high school graduates in the region since 2010 and increased competition since Mizzou entered the SEC a few years ago.
“We are continuing to work with prospective students and their parents, answering any questions they might have and giving them information about MU’s current campus climate,” he said. “We’re looking forward to welcoming our new class in the fall.”
The decline in enrollment is estimated to be as much as 1,500 students this fall. The school is cutting its budget by 5 percent in an effort to make up two-thirds of the $32 million shortfall, according to the Columbia Daily Tribune.
Further cuts may be possible if the state reduces monetary support. A budget approved last Thursday reduces funding for the University’s Columbia campus by $1 million and support for the systemwide administration by $7.6 million.
Experts say it may not be just Missouril paying the price for protests, as well as an increasingly ideological curriculum.
“College enrollment is declining overall – perhaps because high school graduates are realizing trivial courses that lecture on “white privilege” and “queer liberation” – just to name two – don’t help one much with employment and real-world problems,” Kyle Olson, founder and head of the Education Action group and news site EAGnews.org, told FoxNews.com.
He adds that the same can be true of the microcosm of Mizzou.
“Do most reasonable people want classmates who parade through the library finger-waving about the supposed evils of whiteness – or professors who threaten the safety of their students and undermining the very tenant that protects their profession for which she is training them: the First Amendment?” he asked.
Olson was referring to video of an incident at the protests that went viral at the time in which former communications professor Melissa Click threatened a reporter for filming in a public area, requesting “muscle” to forcibly remove Tim Tai, a student photographer on assignment for ESPN. Click was subsequently fired from her post as an adjunct professor.
Olson noted that other schools in Missouri, including Missouri State, are seeing an increase in enrollment, which would indicate local students are considering options other than Mizzou.
Perry Chiaramonte is a reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter at @perrych