The Free University

Displaying logic similar to that which created San Francisco’s famed free store in the 1960s, the City by the Bay apparently now has a free university.

According to an article by Reyhan Harmanci in the New York Times:

In an age of escalating college costs… the Free University of San Francisco — which resides in the basement of Viracocha, a store in the Mission District — has one very large thing going for it: no tuition fees.

Conceived by Alan Kaufman, 59, a poet and former instructor at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, the Free University is an oh-so-San Francisco experiment in divorcing education from commerce. “We don’t need walls, we don’t need desks to impart knowledge,” Mr. Kaufman said. “The idea of a free university is that it’s monetarily free, free of constraints, free of any kind of administration.”

On March 6, the university will begin a cycle of seven five-week classes. After that, Mr. Kaufman said, students can expect both 5- and 10-week courses.

Technically until the 1970s San Francisco used to boast several virtually free universities (Berkeley, San Francisco State, UCSF) but the California tax revolt put an end to that experiment.

While the new school might be free, its status as a university is a little ambiguous.

FUSF, which offers classes like “Abolishing Corporate Personhood to Create Authentic Democracy,” isn’t really a college at all, any more than Beck University, Trump University, or the nearby Oaksterdam University, a school entirely devoted to the cultivation of marijuana.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer