I’ve Heard You Have Some Questions About the New University My Friends and I Are Starting
The APU FAQ
What is the APU?
The University of Alaska Pacific, or APU, is a new university located in Alaska devoted to rational inquiry, free expression, and open debate.
Why is the acronym APU?
“U” stands for university and “AP” is short for “Alaska Pacific.”
Isn’t there…isn’t there already an Alaska Pacific University?
There might be, sure. Lots of things have similar names, or share initials.
OK but “Pacific”?
Alaska borders the Pacific Ocean.
Our original plan, admittedly, was a school based in Austin, Texas, with a satellite campus in Plano, called “The University of Austin and Plano,” or “Texas A&P,” but recent trends in real estate costs, the broader tax environment, and Anchorage’s geographical distance from the stultifying discursive environment of the lower 48 states all combined to make Alaska the natural home for our endeavor.
Will there be “safe spaces” or “trigger warnings” at The APU?
No. No topics are disallowed and no uncomfortable subjects are off-limits at The APU.
Will The APU promote CRT or BDS?
No, The APU will not allow students or professors to practice the poisonous academic assault on American history known as Critical Race Theory, or to engage in political, cultural, or economic boycotts that unfairly target the only democracy in the Middle East.
Will my free speech rights be trampled on by politically correct professors or censorious leftist students at The APU?
We are creating The APU specifically to protect debate and the speech rights of our faculty and students. The university will have only two rules governing speech:
All opinions are fair game and must be heard.
All opinions must be backed with evidence.
I can already see one sort of obvious problem here
We’re way ahead of you. The APU’s two inviolable rules governing student conduct have one sensible subclause: An opinion not backed with evidence must be heard, but cannot be expressed.
How will you enforce a ban on making unsupported claims without creating a chilling effect on speech?
The best enforcement policy is prevention. We hope our school will attract the sort of scholars who understand our mission, and inculcate in them a love of respectful, evidence-based debate. However, if our foundational ideals are challenged by repeated violations of our rules, we have been working closely with both our policy and engineering teams on potential solutions. Those may include, but not be limited to:
If the evidentiary basis of an argument is challenged, staff will have the power to direct students to “go debate mode” or “Zoom this.”
A technological proposal we are tentatively calling “the ad hom siren.”
What kind of student services amenities can I expect at The APU?
At The APU we believe bloated administrative budgets and excessive spending on “student services” have both contributed to rising secondary education costs and distracted from the core mission of the university. However, we understand that students may require “places to sleep” and “food.”
While our dining program is still in the earliest planning stages, we are already excited about our commissary’s future offerings, which are being developed in collaboration with Mario Batali and whichever of the Bon Appétit people were objectively the most canceled. Beginning next year, undergraduates at The APU will be able to sign up for our first meal plan, “Forbidden Courses.” Offerings are expected to include unpasteurized cheese, foie gras, long pig, the bird you have to eat with a napkin on your head from movies about rich people, pangolin, European Kinder Surprise Eggs, and purposely inauthentic banh mi.
What degree programs do you offer?
Doesn’t a university almost definitionally have to offer degrees, and in fact isn’t the term generally understood to mean institutions with post-graduate programs?
The APU is not so vain as to imagine it can know what “most people” understand by the term “university.” All we know is that United States law does not specifically define what can and cannot be called a “university.” Maybe in other countries only “the queen” or “the state” get to define what is and isn’t a university; to us that smacks of intellectual authoritarianism.
OK well then what are the undergraduates you mentioned going to do if they can’t get a degree from The APU
We do plan to offer degrees eventually. We expect to offer our first MA program, Applied Entrepreneurial Optimism, to be ready by 2022.
Are you accredited?
No. We are seeking accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission, an accreditor recognized by the United States Department of Education.
Yeah I just looked that up and broadly the way accreditation works is, different regions of the country have different bodies that handle accreditation for four-year postsecondary degree-granting colleges, like the kind you claim to be starting, and the Higher Learning Commission is, in fact, one of those regional accreditors, but it’s the regional accreditor for schools in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
Sure, that sounds right.
Aren’t you in Alaska?
Yes, we are.
Isn’t it actually quite hard to start an actual accredited university, don’t you need to meet a lot of requirements involving your governance and facilities and also generally have already graduated students for a few years before you can actually earn accreditation?
It is true that, in general, the accreditation process can take many years, and a school generally needs to have been in operation for several years before it is accredited. However, we know a guy.
OK so you’re telling me that you plan to set up an actual four-year degree-granting program that will, like, have a library—a physical one, staffed by librarians and full of books, in a building you will have to build or purchase, along with all the other requisite facilities and staff—and you’re going to do this in like two years, though right now your headquarters exists essentially only on paper and your entire staff is mainly people who post a lot and academics who don’t actually plan to leave their current institutions.
How much will it cost to go to this school
We’ll tell you later!
Isn’t there a long history of alternative conservative colleges failing because they can’t attract students, or raise enough money to actually start a college, or the administrators end up alienating faculty? And, really, isn’t it concerning that you didn’t raise the money necessary to start a real college before you announced the project, and that much of your pitch seems to be aimed less at potential students or faculty than at potential funders?
Those who doubt The APU’s commitment, or our intentions, should note that, among our advisers with actual experience in university administration, only one so far has abruptly resigned.