The University of Delaware has just become one of the most Orwellian campuses in America. Students in its residence halls are now being subjected to a re-education program that is actually dubbed – in the university’s own tax-payer funded materials – as “treatment” for students who have incorrect attitudes and beliefs.
Delaware now requires nearly 7,000 students in its residence halls to adopt specific public university-approved (read: government-approved) views on issues ranging from race, to sexuality, to philosophy. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (see www.TheFire.org) is calling for the total dismantling of the program. Readers of this column should call (302-831-2111) or write to Patrick Harker President of The University of Delaware asking him to do the same.
It is not at all uncommon for a university to establish official views and try to force them on students in the residence hall environment. Students living in the university housing complexes are often required to attend training sessions, floor meetings, and one-on-one meetings with their Resident Assistants (RAs).
But, at Delaware, the RA who facilitates these meetings has already received his own training, including a “diversity facilitation training” session. There, he is taught that at “[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.”
The Delaware RA is also taught that the term “reverse racism” is created by whites to deny their privilege. An official Delaware training manual says that “those in denial use the term reverse racism to refer to hostile behavior by people of color toward whites, and to affirmative action policies, which allegedly give ‘preferential treatment’ to people of color over whites.” Then, after defining the term “reverse racism” the manual claims that “there is no such thing as ‘reverse racism.’” Later, it says the non-existent term “reverse racism” is an example of “racism.”
Lewis Carroll would have been proud.
The university also suggests that during one-on-one sessions with students, the RA should ask intrusive personal questions such as the following:
“When did you discover your sexual identity?” “When was the last time you felt oppressed?” “Who was oppressing you?” “How did it feel?”
“Can you think of a time when someone was offended by what you said?” How did it make you feel?” “How do you think it made them feel?”
Students who express discomfort with the questioning often meet with disapproval from the RA, who often writes a report on the student and delivers it to a superior. One student was identified in a write-up as the “worst” one-on-one session stating that she was tired of “having diversity shoved down her throat.”
According to the university materials, the goal of residence life education is for students in the university’s residence halls to achieve certain “competencies” that include statements like: “Students will recognize that systemic oppression exists in our society,” “Students will recognize the benefits of dismantling systems of oppression,” and “Students will be able to utilize their knowledge of sustainability to change their daily habits and consumer mentality.”
In other words, the student can become competent by becoming a Marxist. Fortunately, Delaware stops short of requiring the student to wear a “Hillary 2008” t-shirt.
But that may well change soon.
Presently, students are actually pressured or even required to take actions that outwardly indicate agreement with the university’s official ideology, regardless of their beliefs as individuals. Such actions include displaying specific door decorations and committing to reduce their ecological footprint by at least 20% and fighting for “oppressed social groups.” (There is no indication that one of these groups is made up of University of Delaware residents who are oppressed by RAs who can’t stop asking “how do you feel?”).
In the Office of Residence Life’s internal materials, these programs are described using a chilling language of ideological re-education. In a manual relating to the assessment of student learning the residence hall lesson plans are actually referred to as “treatments.”
President Harker must be made aware of the United States Supreme Court’s decision in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette (1943). Writing for the Court, Justice Robert H. Jackson declared, “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.”
There is little question that the Barnette case applies to administrators at Delaware. Anyone can see that if these officials are not high, they are certainly petty.