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University of Delaware President Patrick Harker
A mandatory University of Delaware program requires residence hall students to acknowledge that “all whites are racist” and offers them “treatment” for any incorrect attitudes regarding class, gender, religion, culture or sexuality they might hold upon entering the school, according to a civil rights group.
“Somehow, the University of Delaware seems terrifyingly unaware that a state-sponsored institution of higher education in the United States does not have the legal right to engage in a program of systematic thought reform. The First Amendment protects the right to freedom of conscience – the right to keep our innermost thoughts free from governmental intrusion. It also protects the right to be free from compelled speech,” said a letter from Samantha Harris, director of legal and public advocacy for The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education to university President Patrick Harker.
The organization cited excerpts from the university’s Office of Residence Life Diversity Education Training documents, including the statement:
“A RACIST: 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. By this definition, people of color cannot be racists, because as peoples within the U.S. system, they do not have the power to back up their prejudices, hostilities, or acts of discrimination….'”
The education program also notes that “reverse racism” is “a term created and used by white people to deny their white privilege.” And “a non-racist” is called “a non-term,” because, the program explains, “The term was created by whites to deny responsibility for systemic racism, to maintain an aura of innocence in the face of racial oppression, and to shift the responsibility for that oppression from whites to people of color (called ‘blaming the victim’).”
The “education” regarding racism is just one of the subjects that students are required to adopt as part of their University of Delaware experience, too, FIRE noted.
The “shocking program of ideological reeducation,” which the school itself defines as a “treatment” for students’ incorrect attitudes and beliefs, is nothing less than “Orwellian,” FIRE said.
The school requires its approximately 7,000 residence hall students “to adopt highly specific university-approved views on issues ranging from politics to race, sexuality, sociology, moral philosophy and environmentalism.”
“FIRE is calling for the total dismantling of the program, which is a flagrant violation of students’ rights to freedom of conscience and freedom from compelled speech,” the organization said.
On a foundation blog, a student noted that one residence assistant told students, “Not to scare anyone or anything, but these are MANDATORY!!” And the training program for those who indoctrinate students includes the order: “A researcher must document that the treatment/intervention was faithfully applied (ex: specific lesson plans were delivered to every student, etc.).”
Further, the school requires “a systemic change” as a result of the program, FIRE noted. As one RA told students: “Like it or not, you all are the future Leaders, and the world is Diverse, so learning to Embrace and Appreciate that diversity is ESSENTIAL.”
“The University of Delaware’s residence life education program is a grave intrusion into students’ private beliefs,” FIRE President Greg Lukianoff said. “The university has decided that it is not enough to expose its students to the values it considers important; instead, it must coerce its students into accepting those values as their own. At a public university like Delaware, this is both unconscionable and unconstitutional.”
According to university materials, RAs are instructed to ask students during one-on-one sessions questions such as: “When did you discover your sexual identity?” “When were you first made aware of your race?” and “Who taught you a lesson in regard to some sort of diversity awarness? What was the lesson?”
“Students who express discomfort with this type of questioning often meet with disapproval from their RAs, who write reports on these one-on-one sessions and deliver these reports to their superiors. One student identified in a write-up as an RA’s ‘worst’ one-on-one session was a young woman who stated that she was tired of having ‘diversity shoved down her throat,'” FIRE said.
This particular student responded to the question, “When did you discover your sexual identity?” with the terse: “That is none of your damn business,” FIRE said.
Requirements for students include: “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,” FIRE said.
The foundation said students even are “pressured or even required” to make social statements that meet with the school’s approval.
“The fact that the university views its students as patients in need of treatment for some sort of moral sickness betrays a total lack of respect not only for students’ basic rights, but for students themselves,” Lukianoff said. “The University of Delaware has both a legal and a moral obligation to immediately dismantle this program, and FIRE will not rest until it has.”
A spokesman for the school, contacted by WND, said he was not ready to make a statement about the situation right away.
But the foundation’s letter to Harker noted, “we have never encountered a more systematic assault upon the individual liberty, dignity, privacy, and autonomy of university students than this program,” which “requires students to adopt highly specific university-approved views on issues.”
“Such utter contempt for the autonomy and free agency of others is the hallmark of totalitarianism and has no place in any free society, let alone at a public university in the state of Delaware,” the letter said.
Especially alarming, Harris told WND, is that the school defines learning specifically as “attitudinal or behavioral changes,” not acquiring any sort of knowledge and ability.
Such thinking “represents a distorted idea of ‘education’ that one would more easily associate with a Soviet prison camp than with an American institution of higher education,” FIRE said. “As another example, after an investigation showed that males demonstrated ‘a higher degree of resistance to educational efforts,’ the Rodney complex chose to hire ‘strong male RAs.’ Each such RA ‘combats male residents’ concepts of traditional male identity,’ in order to ‘ensure the delivery of the curriculum at the same level as in the female floors.’ This language is disturbingly reminiscent of a pivotal scene from George Orwell’s ‘1984,’ in which the protagonist’s captors tell him that ‘The Party is not interested in the overt act: the thought is all we care about. We do not merely destroy our enemies, we change them.'”
No small danger, FIRE noted, is being presented to the university through such apparent constitutional violations. “Simply put, the residence life education program is a legal minefield,” the group said.
One student reacted to the indoctrination with rebellion. On the FIRE blog, he wrote:
“Take the issue of homosexuality, and the rights that should or should not be associated with it. As a Christian, I believe that the Bible says homosexuality is wrong, and is a sin against God. As such, I cannot accept it as a legitimate lifestyle. While I accept homosexuals as people, I do not accept their choice as right, and subsequently I do not think that homosexual couples should be given marital rights. I accept that others do not hold the same views as me. But it is wrong that under the Residence Life curriculum and school mandated curriculum that I should made to feel guilty for my views. … It is not the school’s right to try to convince me to embrace the values that Residence Life has chosen. Essentially, if I do not change my views, I will be labeled by my RA as not embracing diversity, and not accepting of certain groups, and thus my RA will try all the harder to change me. This is not the school’s job, or right.”