The role and purpose of the university are coming into question as it faces new and serious challenges.
With President Joe Biden attempting to payout millions in student debt relief, Harvard University facing discrimination lawsuits from Asian students who claim have been negatively impacted by diversity initiatives, and major Silicon Valley voices like Steve Jobs building their reputations off of quitting college, the necessity of higher education is in doubt.
Venture capitalist, 1517 Fund founder, and Phd dropout Michael Gibson has decided to support the idea of a weak higher-education system with his new book Paper Belt on Fire: How Renegade Investors Sparked a Revolt Against the University—questioning the traditional role of colleges and universities as a path to success.
“I think we can all agree that the debt situation is out of control, $1.7 trillion in debt. The costs are high, and there are concerns that people aren’t getting the skills they need, and I wanted to address that,” he told City Journal.
Backing up a Bit
“505 years ago, Luther nailed 95 Theses to the Wittenberg church. He protested the sale of indulgences—pieces of paper that, if you had one, you got heaven. Without it? Fires of purgatory. Our thesis: the university degree is a modern indulgence,” says 1517 Fund.
“Students and their parents are sold an expensive piece of paper and told that without it, they’re stuck in professional and personal purgatory. Meanwhile, universities build luxury dorms and pay high six-figure salaries to an army of administrators. If you try to reject this system, you’re labeled a heretic, a crazy person, irresponsible, or—the worst insult of all under this new cathedral—like the underclass … We think this is wrong.”
Gibson’s memoir is written as a diagnosis of the problems of what he considers elitist higher education and a manifesto against them, helping guide away from student debt and cultural stagnation.
“Paper Belt on Fire is the unlikely account of how two outsiders with no experience in finance—a charter school principal and defrocked philosopher—start a venture capital fund to short the higher education bubble. Against the contempt of the education establishment, they discover, mentor, and back the leading lights in the next generation of dropout innovators and in the end make their investors millions,” says the publisher.
Paper Belt on Fire: How Renegade Investors Sparked a Revolt Against the University will be published on November 29, 2022, by Encounter Books.