We recently reported that some residents of the Princeton area claim that the university is violating the terms of their tax-exempt status and if you read the report below, you’ll see they make a pretty good case.

James Piereson (President of the William E. Simon Foundation) and Naomi Riley is (author of “The Faculty Lounges . . . And Other Reasons Why You Won’t Get the College Education You Paid For”) explain that Princeton should be paying its fair share (hat-tip, Instapundit):

….Maybe it’s time to treat universities like for-profit enterprises. They are certainly behaving like big businesses. In her 2009 book, “Wannabe U: Inside the Corporate University,” Gaye Tuchman, a sociologist at the University of Connecticut, describes a conversation with an administrator at a large research university.

“It’s all about money,” he told Ms. Tuchman, when asked about the school’s priorities. In service of that goal, the athletic director at the same school explained: “We’re doing what we can to preserve our brand.” The school had barred the philosophy department from producing T-shirts for a conference because counterfeit apparel had recently been sold at football games—cutting into the school’s profits.

T-shirts are only the tip of the iceberg. Universities make money from the television rights to athletic events, music performances, cafes, alumni vacation tours and more. As a former top administrator at Emory University put it to Jennifer Washburn in her book “University Inc.”: “At the time I got into academia, most people believed they were doing what they were doing—generating ideas and discoveries—because of the public good. . . . Now, when you go look at university business plans, as they are called, students are seen as clients, parents are seen as customers. The question has now become, ‘What is going to sell?’ ”

The fact that universities behave more like businesses may or may not be laudable. There is certainly something to be said for schools being accountable to students and parents. But a relentless focus on expansion and profit can diminish the importance of teaching and learning. Either way, this trend isn’t going away, and residents and local business owners in university towns may no longer be willing to buy the line colleges are selling.