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SHORT TAKES


October 30, 2007

Indoctrination At Delaware

Many universities try to indoctrinate students, but the all-time champion in this category is surely the University of Delaware. With no guile at all the university has laid out a brutally specific program for "treatment" of incorrect attitudes of the 7,000 students in its residence halls. The program is close enough to North Korean brainwashing that students and professors have been making "made in North Korea" jokes about the plan. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has called for the program to be dismantled.

Residential assistants charged with imposing the "treatments" have undergone intensive training from the university. The training makes clear that white people are to be considered racists - at least those who have not yet undergone training and confessed their racism. The RAs have been taught that a "racist is one who is both privileged and socialized on the basis of race by a white supremacist (racist) system. The term applies to all white people (i.e., people of European descent) living in the United States, regardless of class, gender, religion, culture, or sexuality."

FIRE reports that the university's views "are forced on students through a comprehensive manipulation of the residence hall environment, from mandatory training sessions to 'sustainability' door decorations." Residents are pressured to promise at least a 20 percent reduction in their ecological footprint and to promise to work for a "oppressed" group. Students are required to attend training sessions, floor meetings and one-on-one sessions where RAs ask personal questions such as "When did you discover your sexual identity?". Students are pressured or required to accept an array of the university's approved views. In one training session, students had to announce their opinions on gay marriage. Those who did not approve of gay marriage were isolated and heavily pressured to change their opinion.

The indoctrination program pushes students to accept the university's ideas on politics, race, sex, sociology, moral philosophy and environmentalism. The training is run by Kathleen Kerr, director of residential life, who reportedly considers it a "cutting-edge" program that can be exported to other universities around the country. Residential assistants usually provide services to residents and have light duties, such as settling squabbles among students. Kerr and her program are more ambitious. She has been quoted as saying that the job of RAs is to educate the whole human being with a "curricular approach to residential education." In this curricular approach, students are required to report their thoughts and opinions. One professor says: "You have to confess what you believe to the RA." The RAs write reports to their superiors on student progress in cooperating with the "treatment."

The basic question about the program is how did they think they could ever get away with this? Most campus indoctrination is more subtle, with some wiggle room for fudging and deniability. This program implies a frightening level of righteousness and lack of awareness. But the RAs have begun to back away a step or two. After telling the students the program is mandatory, the RAs sent an email saying the sessions are actually voluntary.

Comments (70)

John Calomiris:

Is that a university?Or a Gettoized brainwashing Gulag

Tyler G.:

Wow, if there was ever a reason NOT to send your son/daughter to a particular school, this is it.

The problem is that even if FIRE gets THIS implementation of this stupidity stopped, the people in the university heirarchy that believe this stupidity will still be in place and able to invent new, less obvious, ways of pushing the same agenda.

jim disalvo:

Every individual involved in this program should be fired. I'd go further and say that the entire administration of the university should be fired and have their academic credentials stripped. They should never be permitted anywhere near a school again.

Ben:

"All-time champion?" I believe you are being a bit presumptuous, Mr. Leo! Given that things like this keep getting worse and worse, this is a watermark that is sure to be topped any day now by an even more eager indoctrinator.

Sarah:

My biggest problem with the RAs I had in college was that they didn't have enough time or energy (or interest) in dealing with roommates who violated either the rules of the university or their own room agreements by smoking pot, having drunken parties till 5am on a school night, and getting so drunk they actually hit the other girls living with them.

I find it hard to believe that any 20-year-old taking 17 hours a week and working as an RA to avoid having to pay rent is at all interested or competent in the art of writing reports on the doctrinal purity of the other kids on her floor. It's rare enough to find one who cares about noise violations, for heaven's sake.

(the program overall sounds pretty evil -- but the reliance on RA labor makes me think it probably just doesn't work very well.)

Hube:

I went to UD and had planned on sending my daughter there. Now ...

I am a high school teacher who has students apply and go to many colleges, including the Ivys. My new policy is to not write letters of recommendations to schools that have these coercive policies. I tell the student flat out that I cannot in good conscience recommend a school like that. They can still apply, but I won't help them.

Who needs reeducation camps when there is the University of Delaware?

pdq332:

What are you paying for in a college education?

People aren't following the money. The principal reason why college education is expensive is because it is in high demand. The principal reason why college education is in high demand is because of the widespread belief that a college degree leads to higher wages. The principal reason why a college education leads to higher wages is because of the belief among corporate and small business HR departments that a college educated employee is a better employee. It is perhaps the irony of the century that students are willing to sit through leftist indoctrination prevalent at today's universities because of the hope of making more bucks later.

Maybe HR directors should start thinking about hiring straight out of high school and go by SAT/ACT scores and applications with their own pithy essay sections. Entrepreneurial companies should be able to find more efficient alternatives to developing employees, from sponsoring students at local community colleges to in house training to book clubs. Unless you're talking about rocket science, it ain't rocket science.

If that became widespread, you would find that demand for a college degree would fall and prices would fall, and ridiculous programs like the one above that do NOTHING to advance the core mission of a university would fall by the wayside. Almost no one would be willing to sit through it.

It's not about finding the right college.

It's about fostering alternatives to college.

Sarge6:

On first glance this program deserves every kind of Orwellian objection and bad publicity it gets. But my residence hall days aren't so far in the past that I wonder about it practically. I have no doubt that the educrats who put this in place are sincere, but I question whether the average RA will be motivated to see it through.
I suppose there would be a cadre of eager beavers that would try, but in my recollection RA's are in it for the room and board waiver. So I just can't envision 19 year olds running Khmer Rouge thoughtcrime sessions on their peers and hallway neighbors. Imagining my old RA asking the linebacker on my floor (who went on to a famous NFL career) about when he discovered his sexual identity makes me laugh. As far as college students in general are concerned, this is one instance where the South Park ethos actually could be a good thing. In short, my suspicion is that the program's inherent absurdity will generate enough sand in its own gears that it grinds to a halt all on its own.

Ron Nord:

University of Delaware has declared war on the students of their 'school.' Kathleen Kerr, director of residential life should be fired from her postition and the position abolished. Let her go to Communist China where she will be more at home. The Stalinists have taken over the school and it should be placed in recievership for the benifit of the student.

Allan Patterson:

This makes me mad when I think that as a resident of Delaware, my tax dollars go to pay for this garbage...

Another reason to leave the People's Republic of Delaware.

rIX:

Comrade, you have gone too far this time! Surely you will find the reeducation camp will change your attitude as we build the new socialist man!

Bret:

"The basic question about the program is how did they think they could ever get away with this?"

It looks to me like they are getting away with it - at least for now. How many years of litigation will be required to stop it? And then, why won't it rise again like a phoenix from the ashes, in a slightly modified form?

dpt:

"Such actions include displaying specific door decorations, committing to reduce their ecological footprint by at least 20%, taking action by advocating for an �oppressed� social group, and taking action by advocating for a �sustainable world.�"

If "sustainability" is such a pressing issue, why not close the U of Delaware down? Its very existence contributes nothing to a sustainable Mother Earth...it takes up land, consumes resources, etc.

anon prof:

How do universities think they can get away with it? Because they do--almost everywhere. And they will continue to do so until the universities are deprived of public funding and have to compete in the marketplace; that is, until they become totally tuition driven.

newton:

My goodness! If this is what the university environment is becoming, I fear for my child's future already - and she's barely ten months old!

There needs to be an alternative to these "People's Republics" masquerading as universities. Parents should see, clearly, what their money and their taxes are actually paying for.

The resulting rebellion should quake those indoctrinators to their foundations.

PersonFromPorlock:

Tyler G.: How true. The bad guys won't even lose their serve. FIRE needs to quit playing nice and get a Dean canned, sued or put in jail. Or all three.

Dave:

This is more visible in its application but in principle no different from what happens in almost every American university.

Can we home-school our kids until they're 30? :-)

Mark:

Universities are governed by Stalinist hypocrites who scream about "academic freedom" but have no trouble trampling on anything with which they disagree.

Just Me:

In a strange way, this heavy-handed indoctrination isn't a bad idea. Those kids are going to face many attempts to brain-wash them, both in college and in later life.

The sooner they learn to resist, the better off they'll be.

Thomas:

These are people going on and on about other people sending their own kids to 'Jesus camp'...

Some republicans are a little loopy and goofy... but they don't tend to be Stalinists.

Percy Dovetonsils:

It has to be particularly egregious if professors are actually complaining.

FOB (Friend of Bush):

Do they take clients from Gitmo? Of course, this would be for the soldiers and not the detainees (snarky comment intended as a joke - It would be better if UD administrators were sent to Gitmo for additude adjustments).

Sam:

Wow, they felt confident enough to practice the usual Cultural Marxism indoctrination openly, rather than without wink-and-a-nod fallback excuse/deniability protections. I guess this day had to come eventually.

The Frankfurt School's long-term plan to undermine the West continues apace and has reached a critical point.

punditius:

I have five kids. Four have been to college. The first, a national merit scholar, doesn't work at anything which would require a college degree. The second treated college as a trade school, learned his trade, & has his job. The third is a salesman, and has been since he was about five. The fourth - 800s on his SATS - went to a high school that was more challenging than the college (a Big Ten university) & bailed after one useless year.

Basically, college is a waste of time & money for anyone who isn't learning a trade, be it engineering or advertising. Higher education is a racket. Unfortunately, most employers use a college degree as a way to narrow down their employment decisions.

My fifth son wants to be a musician. More power to him!

The problem is that we are subsidizing these institutions without being able to hold them accountable. We need them in the hard sciences, but not for much else. Where's Henry VIII when you need him? These monasteries need burning...

bee:

The president of the university should be arrested. The president and his supporting leaders are criminals and should be immediately fired. Without decisive action this type of behaiors will proliferate.

RightWingNutter:

The people who thought up and implemented this scheme should be rounded up and sent to reeducation camp. Or fired irrespective of any tenure. Their choice.

The camp classes should be taught by a tag team of Constitutional Law profs picked by Hugh Hewett, Glen Reynolds, and Erwin Chemerinsky.

They should be asked probing personal questions like "When did you discover that you were a neo-Stalinist pinhead?" They will not be considered to have completed their reeducation until they can:

1. Write one essay each on the real world meanings of the First, Fourth, Sixth, Ninth, and Tenth Amendments to the satisfaction of the camp faculty.

2. Verbally explain to the satisfaction of a committee of the professors how Amendment XIV, section 1 applies to them as employees of a division of the State of Delaware.

kcom:

"This makes me mad when I think that as a resident of Delaware, my tax dollars go to pay for this garbage..."

A very good reason to make a donation to FIRE, as I have. After reading enough stories about this kind of insanity going on at colleges I felt compelled to help, and not just be someone who hoped things worked out. FIRE does actually seem to be getting results in many of their cases.

- Spoken as someone who doesn't even have kids, and certainly has none in college. But what these people are trying to get away with scares me nonetheless.

PAntera:

I'm still in hig school, so I have time to choose which brainwashing I want to attend. Do I go for the more blatant, University of deleware people, or go for the more subtle, University of Columbia type?
Hopefully I'll get to go to UTK and see Glenn Reynolds. Then I could finnaly see once and for all what his smoothies are made out of.

CJ:

Maybe HR directors should start thinking about hiring straight out of high school and go by SAT/ACT scores and applications with their own pithy essay sections.

Actually, testing the intelligence of prospective employees has been forbidden by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Griggs v. Duke Power Co. decision. The reasoning they used was that any test on which "minorities" score lower than whites is discriminatory. It's one of the very worst decisions they ever made.

Dave McFadden:

Meanwhile I understand that they still place many of the freshmen in dorms without air conditioning and if you play nice with the RA you get the upgrade. Your tax dollars at work!

Rather, students should report their RAs as racist to other RAs, should demonstrate against the racist and fascist propaganda as being a tool of the corporationist state of Delaware. After all, getting a government job is certainly a sign of being in bed with the upper classes.

As for the question about Sexual Identity, I would report that as an attempt as seduction and if repeated, as harassment.

If described by the RA as white, that is a racist description.

So on and so forth.

Universities are not dependent on tuition. The biggies (Harvard, Yale) are wealthier than multinational corporations. Many of the others have large endowments. They can forgo tuition money forever.

And universities are non-profits and do not pay taxes.

Richard:

I guess by now I should have known better.

When I first read this I thought "This has got to be a hoax. In a few days some liberal prankster is going to be poking fun at the 'hysterical right wing bloggers'". So I looked around the U Del site, and sure enough it's there, just as quoted above and at the FIRE site. If there are any other doubting Thomases out there, here's the link:
http://www.udel.edu/reslife/about/curricular_approach.htm

What's most frightening is that students are being led to believe that this sort of behavior is normal and appropriate in a democracy.

Alex Clay:

Feel free to share your opinions with Kathleen Kerr at kkerr@udel.edu. I just sent her a critical email. Share this with your friends.

Gary Ness:

And tax-payers support this?

David:

I don't understand how any "college-ready" 18 year old really buys that this is "mandatory." I went to the UW, and they had the usual date-rape/booze/gay love fest "diversity training" day or week or whatever it was. I just skipped it and played frisbee in the park. Mandatory? Whatever. Am I getting graded? No? Ok then. Bye bye.

MarkJ:

Something tells me that, had she lived 70 years ago, Kathleen Kerr would have felt right at home with this crowd:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nationalsozialistischer_Deutscher_Studentenbund

Christy:

The next question is this: Did anyone get discriminated against in the hiring of RAs because they would not follow the party line? Wouldn't that be actionable?

Chilling. And I thought the level of attempted indoctrination was bad when I went to college in the mid-90s. Clearly the situation has worsened since then.

Perhaps saddest of all is that such ideological, thought-police badgering is deeply counterproductive to the ostensibly noble causes of humanity's advancement that these people claim to champion. Evidently the self-congratulatory thrill of claiming the mantle of moral superiority, and the timeless passion for power over others (I'm thinking here of Lord Acton's renowned observation), takes precedence for these frauds over the actual achievement of real good or elevation of the human mind and spirit. As a case in point, I consider myself a supporter on classical liberal/libertarian principles of legally allowing homosexual marriage (or civil unions, as may prove a more practical compromise), very much despite the similarly-minded pedantic, sanctimonious cries of "homophobia" that seem to befall most anyone who doesn't toe the P.C. thought-and-speeh-correctness line to the precise letter these days. (I often wonder how much necessary traction the Civil Rights movement would have gained among mainstream America had the public discourse been dominated by similar scolding cries of "negrophobia" or the like.) The "oppressed" that the academic ideologues who peddle this stuff claim to speak for are done no good whatsoever by such disgraceful, self-serving conduct. They are pushing their extreme agenda farther and farther, and have, I certainly hope, finally reached the point where they'll begin to be met with a substantial and well-deserved backlash of public opinion and consequential deprivation of funding.

...but, hey, what do I know? I'm just a white heterosexual male-of-European-descent member of the bourgeois-subjectivist-individualist-captilast exploiter class (and probably sexist and racist by default too). Please disregard the foregoing as irrelevant. ;-)

Boo hiss, University of Delaware. Hurrah for FIRE's steadfast defesne of real, meaningful intellectual liberty. And thank you for publicizing this important issue.

Tom:

Feh. Send your kids to a school with a national ranking in the hard sciences (biology, chemistry, physics) or technology. They generally don't have time for this crap, their leading faculty are less likely to support it, and they recruit presidents and administrators whose focus is on advancing the school's reputation in the sciences, not doctrinal purity.

buzz harsher:

Remember, kids: Question authority!

"You have to confess what you believe to the RA." The RAs write reports to their superiors on student progress in cooperating with the "treatment."

The philosophical differences between the leaders of American universities and commmunists like Mao and Pol Pot are practically indistinguishable.

Samantha Folb:

Ha! And to think I applied to this school! This is absolutely ridiculous. I'm glad I didn't end up there.

If they were a religious group, most people would call it a cult.

UDgirl:

The above article is truly a work of biased propaganda in and of itself. Repetitively using descriptive words that are commonly ascribed to 'the enemy' (in this case, fascist regimes), is a method that was often implemented by those fascist regimes themselves.

You are no better than the system you are critiquing.

Everyone has a message. Sadly, it seems as if everyone tries to convey that message as if it were a universal truth.

It's true-- (take a deep breath)-- I am a molded liberal teenager, brainwashed by the public school system -

the public school system that You sent me to, beginning at age six.

I can not avoid that fact that I grew up in a society. This society, like all societies, has a multitude of influences, coming from all different directions. So, I have been molded -

by a series of detached teachers and a few compassionate ones, by my parents and my friends, by the nightly news and daily paper,

by the University of Delaware.

I am aware that I am a vessel for opinions.

However, unlike many of my fellow citizens, I refuse to be apathetic.

I am a conscious objector of injustice across the world:

of genocide in Sudan, of atrocities in Uganda, AND of the present inequalities of a different scale that exist in our own nation.

I know that, while YOU, personally, may not be a racist, the history of our nation has created an unequal playing field. The history of America is racist. Try to deny this, and you will be bombarded by an overflow of disaffirming facts. As an American, your history is racist.

No one told me this directly; I observed it through timelines and unbiased graphs. I knew this as early as elementary school.

Don't be personally insulted.

It is common knowledge that the past effects the present and the future; the racist past of America, therefore, must be having an effect on current day situations.

The RA's at the University of Delaware do not call students racist. They do not "out" a student's sexual or political preference.

They are only RA's. They are disinterested people who, like a few bloggers mentioned before me, are in it for the free housing.

Since I arrived at UD, I have attended only one "diversity workshop". This workshop consisted of listing stereotypes that exist for a variety of society's groups. Becoming conscious of stereotypes in order to avoid them seems hardly comparable to the fascist act of sponsoring and promoting stereotypes.

Yes, there are posters hung throughout my residence hall that promote sustainability.

No one reads them.

At the same time, we do not have a place to recycle cardboard.

This university, like much of America, is full of contradictions.

It is led by attention and power seeking individuals. The plan that you are discussing is merely an attempt to be original and groundbreaking.

It is neither.

So don't worry;

the apathy of our nation is not at risk.

UDgirl:

I forgot to mention:

yes, students are asked questions such as "when was the last time you felt opressed? How did it feel?" etc.

They are not, however, forced to answer.

In fact, at the diversity workshop that I attended, most of the students were disinterested and did not participate in conversation at all.

So, my previous conclusion stands.

JZ:

In regards to the situation at the University of Delaware, it is unfortunate that FIRE has chosen to vilify the university with such ruthless rhetoric. In one fell swoop, FIRE has completely flipped this issue on its head, and in doing so, has been able to control the spin on the entire story.

I am currently a senior at the University of Delaware and I was a resident assistant (RA) for the maligned Office of Residence Life for one semester last year. Not only has FIRE grossly misconstrued what is actually occurring at the university but they have added unnecessarily loaded language in their presentation of the issue which has further incited the criticism being foisted upon Delaware.

To make clear before people paint me as a mouthpiece for the university: I am no longer working for the Office of Residence Life and I left voluntarily at the end of last semester. Also, I can only speak from my own experience and my observations of the system as a whole, and my statements do not necessarily reflect the opinions of other RAs.

In my time working with this department, I was often at odds with many policies put in place but never did I feel that the office's programs were "Orwellian," a "grave intrusion into students' private beliefs" or coercive, as FIRE portrays them. In fact, I was skeptical of the effectiveness of many of the office's programs but never did I think they endangered students' right to free speech or their intellectual welfare.

To put it simply - the university wants to promote diversity and facilitate social tolerance among its students. There is no subversive indoctrination, no hidden agenda. The university feels, to paraphrase what I gathered from my time employed by the Office of Residence Life, that students should progress as individuals during their time spent at Delaware and feels it is responsible for exposing them to what it deems character-building social concepts and qualities.

The university does have in place an extensive program to promote tolerance among its students living in the residence halls. Yes, it has a list of "competencies" it hopes students achieve in their time at the university and it does hope students embrace a notion of "citizenship." However, there is no "comprehensive manipulation" as FIRE claims.

In my time as an RA, I was required to attend a class titled, "Contemporary Issues for Resident Assistants." The purpose of the course was to educate RAs about the range of divisive issues facing college students and to prepare RAs to deal with any problems they might encounter in working with residents. We frequently covered diversity-related topics - issues relating to religion, ethnicity, socio-economic status, sexuality, gender, etc. - and the purpose of the course was to learn how to be tolerant of and understand different people and situations.

To be fair, not all of the material in the class dealt with these issues, however. We were also taught how to deal with sexual abuse, roommate-to-roommate conflicts, alcohol abuse, and a host of other issues which were relevant to working with largely underclassmen residents.

FIRE's main allegations for misconduct have to do with the university supposedly promoting a view that white students are to be encouraged by RAs to feel remorseful of their racist, supremacist past. This is simply not true and was never taught to me. I was never instructed to teach residents about this.

Some of the coursework and activities were bluntly direct in their message. The university very obviously strived to instill in us near-universal tolerance and acceptance - or at least the cognizant awareness of what problems we might encounter in our positions and how to deal with them - so that we would be better equipped to do our jobs working with residents.

However, there was no stipulation that we as students had to agree with the university's position on these issues. In fact, few in the class (all fellow RAs) truly believed everything we were taught and felt much of the material was overstated, silly and patronizing. But none were actually against what was being taught. Most of us readily agreed that the university had the right intention - trying to make its students better people, which is what all universities try to do after all, right? - but misfired on the execution of those lessons.

As for the "training sessions, floor meetings, and one-on-one meetings with their Resident Assistants (RAs)" that FIRE says students are supposedly required to attend: never in my experience did I see any students forced into a meeting they had an issue with or truly did not feel comfortable attending. While students were greatly encouraged to attend these meetings and these may have been promoted as mandatory, there were no consequences for absence. In fact, my meetings were attended by fewer than 50 percent of floor residents. How did I advertise them? Email notifications followed by knocking on each resident's door to tell them when the meeting would be held. Hardly coercive, in my view.

In general, it was a common occurrence for students to skip meetings at their leisure and there were no repercussions besides a "please try to come next time." There were literally zero things we could do to punish residents, and moreso, no RAs that I knew felt the need for such punishment.

In the one-on-one sessions, they are intended to be relatively short meetings between a resident and an RA with the hope of building a rapport between both sides to better create a "floor community." The RAs were given rough guidelines as to how to conduct these meetings, but they were largely left up to the RA to plan and conduct. Yes, RAs were expected to ask somewhat-personal questions to better get to know residents, but I have never heard of a situation where students were generally offended or made uncomfortable by an RA's questions or conversation. The entire point of these meetings is to promote a positive relationship between RA and resident, not to interrogate residents or scare them away from future interactions. Again, in my experience, these were encouraged but never forced onto residents; if a resident ever had a serious issue with this kind of meeting, I cannot see a request to be excused for personal reasons being denied.

If anything, any problems relating to residence hall suppression of freedom of speech is due to problems relating to the work of individual RAs and not the system as a whole.

I could go on and on with examples from my semester as an RA. From my first-hand experience, FIRE's allegations are largely unfounded and serve only to stir a pot that is essentially non-existent. I truly hope the FIRE's Web site re-evaluates its statements and tones down its rhetoric as to prevent the university from taking flak it does not deserve.

There's an article in a local paper (Southern CA), by a woman Stanford student. She reports the same sort of thing, but on a lesser scale. RAs help mandatory "re-education" events, threatening $20 fines for people who didn't show up. The student pointed out that they don't have the authority to do that, but most other students went along with the program.

"... He responded that the residential advisers were trying to force students to attend the events "for our own good." Like lawmakers and union bosses, social tyrants often do not trust people to make their own decisions or handle their own problems."

I appreciate JZ's thoughtful response, but how can you argue with the U Del documents that FIRE links to?

Here's one interesting thing students are expected to incorporate into their philosophy:

" In 1784 George Washington, famous Indian fighter, large landholder and slave owner ..."

No mention of any of his other accomplishments.

The person behind this is Dr Shakti Butler:

"Dr. Butler received her doctorate from the California Institute of Integral Studies in the School of Transformative Learning and Change."

Her world-view is summend up in her Diversity Facilitation Trainging document (link is on the FIRE site). One example:

REVERSE RACISM: ... affirmative action policies, which allegedly give 'preferential treatment' to people of color over whites. In the U.S., there is no such thing as reverse racism.

Read the rest of it. The sum total boils down to: white is evil.

Michael Hiteshew:

Welcome to the Soviet Republic of Delaware, Comrades!

A current RA at UD:

JZ, eloquently stated. I am an RA this year, and as soon as I read FIRE's press release I laughed. Our program is nothing like that, and I can't even add to what you've said -- you make the point precisely.

Just a few more comments: Students don't need to "confess what they believe" to the RA. It is our job as RA's to ask questions and to invite conversation. If that involves a student telling us a personal story about themselves, fine!

About the "all whites are racist" bit: JZ, at RAT this year we had an outside speaker come in (Shakti Butler) for a day-long presentation about diversity. It seems to me that it was designed to open our minds so that we could view diversity and racial issues in a new way. I mean, most of our RA's ARE white, and the general focus of the session was to make us think critically about racial issues instead of "taking the easy road" and ignoring them, which comes easily to white people.

I also love how the FIRE press release completely neglected to mention that any resident can put on their own program for the floor community at ANY time.


Lauren Savoie:

Wow, does anyone realize that none of these supposed "accusations" about the university were made by students of the residence halls?

As a sophomore at the university of Delaware I can tell you first hand that these accusations have no basis in fact. I have never been required to attend any residence hall event (including floor meetings, one-on-ones, etc). Yes, the paper name tags on my door are in the shape of a recycling symbol, but I am free to remove or replace them of my own will. So what if the residence hall sponsors VOLUNTARY initiatives such as community clean-ups, tree plantings, or recycling and food drives... is that really so horrible? Honestly, as prospective students and parents wouldn't you want your students to have a chance to be involved with something meaningful if they so choose? As for this so-called "political agenda", that is absolutely absurd. My RA has never asked my questions about my personal views on anything, I have never felt pressured to adopt any sort of beliefs, and have never heard of any effort to make students feel as if the university disapproves of our personal ideologies. Also, I have never even head of these supposed "training meetings", in fact I rarely even see my RA. These accusations came as a shock to me and almost everyone I know, and hundreds of my peers have already expressed their disgust at the article issued by FIRE.

Before you draw conclusions from an article issued by an organization with its own political agenda, I ask you to please speak with students and professors who have actually lived in the residence halls at UD. I think you will find that the nature of reality is vastly different than the ludicrous accusations of FIRE.

Anna:

Or you could just not go to the meetings. I haven't been to one all year and I'm not getting docked my rights to register for classes or live in campus housing. Sounds like people are freaking out about nothing.

UD Mom:

There is no mainstream way parents considering this school would have a clue about this. My son is having a heck of a time with certain over zealous RAs, and is anxious to leave campus housing because he is constantly disturbed with inspections and interruptions at his dorm. He has even had an RA suggest that she will "get him" for drinking. He's not, he opened his dorm for a fruitless inspection.

You know when a kid coming from 13 years of parochial/catholic school is complaining about social conditions in a public school its bad!!

Dan Lenker:

I was also a Resident Assistant for the University of Delaware before I transferred out of state in 2006. FIRE IS JUSTIFIED in its accusations, they are NOT JUST "ruthless rhetoric."

The RA hiring process is very slanted towards people who profess the same beliefs as the residence life (Reslife) administration. If your opinions on topics such as diversity, homosexual rights (and more subtly, politics) differ from the university, you are not likely to be hired. Once employed, RAs are put through intensive, mind numbing training for a few weeks during the summer and at least once later in the year.

I personally encountered the �Every person of European decent is privileged and benefits from racism� type remarks, among many others which weren�t so bad yet still controversial and presented as unarguable dogma in which Reslife�s opinion was the only correct opinion. Every week, RAs are put under great pressure by their Hall Directors to "promote diversity" on a constant basis through mandated social interactions, bulletin boards on approved or mandated topics, and mandated programs which residents are told they have to attend. UD�s RAs often aren�t as laid back as ones you may be familiar with due to these reasons.

The forced programs while I was an RA were ridiculous and poorly designed, but they did show a trend of becoming more belligerent towards re-educating students into accepting university beliefs.

Often there was a greater emphasis on the re-education programs then actually helping the residents have a successful and enjoyable college career. Usually, only freshmen residents are gullible enough to easily get to attend these programs, but particularly zealous RAs will use various forms of coercion such as disciplinary favoritism. Usually the less-than-zealous RAs are weeded out over the course of the year.

While the messages that UD�s Reslife program espouses are generally positive in my opinion, the staff often goes too far in promoting them, allowing them to be fairly called a form of indoctrination. This zealousness can have serious negative effects for students. An example would be the Jewish student who put up a joke Hitler profile on Facebook and was promptly suspended. The student was re-admitted over the next semester when he got a lawyer who pointed out that such an action was a violation of free speech. The university claimed the people offended and who brought the issue to Judicial Affairs were just students, but they were RAs � I know them! Poor taste in humor on a non-university run website should not have been the university�s business, and this is just one example of how Reslife�s dogma can compel overreaction and cause harm � I know of many others, but this post is already getting pretty long.

I also just wanted to ask that Ms. Kerr be treated with respect in any justifiably outraged correspondence, as she actually is a really nice lady. Some of the others on the UD Reslife staff are more responsible for things going to far�

(BTW, you can Google my name to find a UDaily article which proves I was an RA at Delaware, unlike the other person in the forum.)

UD Sophomore:

I agree with Lauren. It's really not that bad. I've lived in the dorms for a year and a half now, and all we really do is make fun of the stuff they try to get us to participate in. Almost everything is voluntary, not mandatory, and most of it is decent anyway. It's no worse than your mom nagging you to throw your cans in the recycle bin.

Caitlin:

I think all of this is just completely rediculous. While I don't think it's okay to force people to answer about their sexual identity or anything like that... you should know NOTHING here at UD is forced.

Sure, there are programs and stuff that we could attend if we wanted to and volunteer opportunities related to our complex's theme, we don't HAVE to do them. I haven't attended one program since I've been here. Half the people on my floor have taken their name tags off the doors. It's really not a big deal. Most of the RAs are just here to make sure we don't get drunk, od or kill ourselves.

It seems to me that the only reason you guys seem to be protesting all of this because you see this as someone making it harder for you to get away with being racist or ignorant.

Anonymous:

Many of these post go behind the mark of absurdity. The University of Delaware is a renowned institution, and to deminish the quality of the school due to a bad program is ridiculous. I am a senior at the school, and frankly had no idea that this "Stalinist" program existed. This leads me to believe that all of this is a severe exaggeration by a slew of muckrakers looking for a salicious story. The guidance couselor that posted obviously is not serving her students properly by discouraging students from going to a University that offers a quality education.

Andi Whitaker:

The situation that FIRE described is pretty terrifying. It also reads like fiction. It's rather naive to believe that 18 year olds will feel compelled to attend a meeting just because their 19 year old RA said it was mandatory, isn't it? And am I supposed to believe that there are 7,000 college students walking around thinking that all white people are racists?

I was an RA and HD at UD for 6 years. I can't believe that the Res Life program could possibly have changed so drastically in the 5 years that I've been gone. Yes, we were trained in diversity as well as suicide prevention, crisis management, drug and alcohol intervention, eating disorder detection, conflict resolution, etc.

Residence hall programs, diversity ones included, were never mandatory unless they focused on safety. And *mandatory* didn't mean that anyone would be punished for not attending. We didn't want to "indoctrinate" our residents. We wanted them to get passing grades, stay safe, and learn to act as generally responsible, conscientious adults.

While Kathleen and I were never BFF, I don't see her steering the Res Life program this far off the rails. It seems to me that FIRE got a few quotations and turned them into a story.

As I said, I'm not at UD anymore so I don't know for sure that there isn't some truth embedded in FIRE's accusations. When I read the articles on their site, however, I feel like the end should advise me to forward the message to everyone in my mailing list within 10 minutes if I want good luck.

Gman:

I went through this as a resident assistant at the U of Montana. There was an incident in which a gay student was accosted by several other students. Fellow RAs had to go through "sensitivity" training that consisted of a panel of gays telling us that we were the problem. I remember getting one of their "pamphlets," ostensibly written to educate homophobes to be more sensitive. Well, it was full of invective. I remember saying to the panel that if you're attempting to understand your viewpoint, bashing those you're trying to "educate" doesn't really work. Anyway, what U of Delaware is doing is not surprising.

Reen:

I went to Delaware and have no knowledge of this ever happening. Just not true.

Reen, it happened, but maybe not the years you were in the residence halls. Extensive documentation and many personal accounts are online:
http://www.thefire.org/index.php/case/752.html
http://www.thefire.org/index.php/article/9869.html

I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country. Thomas Jefferson

You have my vote here

Bummer! It drives me even more insane to admit this.

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