Two influential faculty members at the Charleston School of Law (CSOL) have penned a letter to state regulators urging them to reject the school’s proposed sale to InfiLaw, a glorified “diploma mill.”
Exclusively reported on by FITS last summer, the takeover of CSOL by InfiLaw created a meltdown on campus – with the vast majority of students, teachers, staff and alumni coming out in opposition to the deal. This near-unanimity prompted state lawmakers to discuss a possible government takeover of the institution, although the leader of that effort – S.C. Rep. Stephen Goldfinch (RINO-Georgetown) – has been too busy battling a federal indictment and civil suit to follow through on his plans.
Still, CSOL’s leading professors are making it clear that they do not support the sale to InfiLaw.
“The proposed Infilaw takeover is not desirable,” reads a letter from professors Randall Bridwell and Gerald Finkel. “We join in this letter to express our opinion that the proposed plan would radically alter the current CSOL academic, professional and business model. We do not believe the new proposal would be in the best interest of the bench, the bar, the legal profession generally, or the public of South Carolina.”
According to Bridwell and Finkel, an InfiLaw sale would dumb down the school’s student body – lowering the threshold for admission and increasing the likelihood that incoming students would fail to graduate or pass the bar exam.
They also point to the pending sale as being responsible for a massive decline in admissions from qualified students – with CSOL’s 30 percent decline in incoming applications nearly twice the national average of 15.8 percent.
Bridwell and Finkel also note that CSOL has lost 32 current students (and 18 incoming students) since the InfiLaw sale was announced last July.
It’s hard to argue with the points raised by these two professors. And it will be interesting to see if the S.C. Commission on Higher Education (CHE) – the regulatory body tasked with reviewing the proposed sale – will accept these points and use them as grounds to deny InfiLaw a license to operate the school.
Here’s the problem, though: CSOL is – at its heart – a business. And a majority of its owners have chosen to sell the business to a willing customer. That’s the free market, people. And as much as we agree with Bridwell and Finkel’s arguments, it’s next-to-impossible to justify government getting in the way of this sale (as it is categorically impossible to justify government taking over the institution).
In fact we believe adamantly that the CHE shouldn’t exist – and the sprawling network of government-funded institutions of higher learning should be immediately privatized.
If the CHE does deny InfiLaw a license to operate CSOL, though, state lawmakers must resist the urge to add yet another school to an already bloated, inefficient higher education system.