Bob Unruh joined WND in 2006 after nearly three decades with the Associated Press, as well as several Upper Midwest newspapers, where he covered everything from legislative battles and sports to tornadoes and homicidal survivalists. He is also a photographer whose scenic work has been used commercially.More ↓Less ↑
University of Delaware President Patrick Harker
The University of Delaware is defending its program that includes the teaching “all whites are racist” and offers “treatment” for any incorrect attitudes regarding class, gender, religion, culture or sexuality.
“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 letter from FIRE’s director of legal and public advocacy, Samantha Harris, said. “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.”
She said included among the school’s teaching resources was the following: “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 university responded to WND questions about the program with an e-mail referral to a web posting, which said, “there is in fact a program within the residence halls that engages students in self-examination of the roles they hope to take in society.”
“This effort is consistent with the mission of the university which states, ‘Our graduates should know how to reason critically and independently … communicate clearly in writing and speech, and develop into informed citizens and leaders.’ The program is designed to encourage students to think about and to consider a number of issues, but all make their own decisions about the outcome of this reflection,” the school said.
The school said FIRE “asserts a number of conclusions that can be supported by a selective citation of documents, but are not actualized” and said “indoctrination … serves no educational purpose.”
Harris said the organization knows Delaware’s students are intelligent.
“They’re coming forward in droves to complain about the program,” she said.
But the focus shouldn’t be on the results but the school’s actions, she told WND.
“The issue is that a state university doesn’t have the right to try to indoctrinate its students, whether or not that’s ultimately successful,” she said.
The school’s website posting accused FIRE of distorting and misrepresenting the program, so FIRE will post on the internet a compilation of the school’s program for students – an estimated 500 pages – and readers will be able to judge for themselves, Harris told WND.
The university’s posted response was signed electronically by Michael Gilbert, vice president for student life. He said students “are challenged to express themselves as free-thinking citizen … [and] indoctrination … does not exist as part of a systematic effort on this campus.”
The program in place, he said, reflects the university’s belief “that students learn and grow in part by engaging in significant discussions on both sides of the classroom door.”
He said there have been “missteps” in the program, which is new. “As with any university educational endeavor assessment and feedback measures have been established to identify issues or concerns. Each of the issues FIRE presents are currently under review. In fact, we recently became aware that students in several residence halls were told their participation is mandatory at these activities and we have taken steps to clarify this misconception and to notify students of their rights in this area.”
Harker responded to a consumer who e-mailed about the situation with the following statement: “The central mission of the University of Delaware, and of the residential life educational program, is to cultivate both learning and the free exchange of ideas and we certainly do not agree with the findings of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.”
As WND reported earlier, 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. Other issues on which students are taught include homosexuality, environmentalism, and other politically correct issues.
“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 school posting noted that such best-worst ratings are used only “by supervisors to ask Resident Assistants to reflect on their facilitation skills and never to describe students or the outcome of a conversation.”
But Harris then wondered why all of the “best” ratings were given to students who appeared to adopt the political perspective presented to them by RAs, and the “worst” always given to those students who objected to the questions.
“Coincidence?” Harris asked.
WND’s own review of just a small amount of the information posted under student life categories on the Delaware website documented almost exclusive support for the presentation of a political agenda.
One program had suggested readings that included writings by Peggy McIntosh, who cited dozens of “daily effects of white privilege,” including, “I can talk with my mouth full and not have people put this down to my color.”
Another recommended reading was by Sandra Lawrence and Beverly Tatum, and titled “White Racial Identity and Anti-Racist Education: A Catalyst for Change.”
In that document, they state, “Being White is viewed as a ‘normal’ state of being which is rarely reflected upon, and the privileges associated with being White are simply taken for granted.
“Because the ideology of White racial superiority is so deeply embedded in our culture, the process of ‘unlearning racism’ is a journey we need to continue throughout our lives,” they wrote.
Those writings also documented the results in some of the students in their classes, such as:
“I have people that I don’t invite over [to my house] anymore. I like Jane, but her husband is a bigot, and I won’t put up with it,” wrote one enlightened student.
Another recommended writing was “Confessions of a Recovering Racist,” by Donna Hauer, who condemned a “Baptist minister father” for failing to “embrace” his son’s homosexual lifestyle, a mother who “disappointed” him and an “impersonal, homophobic, (sic) university” that did not meet his desires.
Another brochure listed was “Detour spotting for white anti-racists” by “jona olsson.”
That told readers, “No white person has ever lived in a non-racist North America. … None of us has ever been taught the skills of anti-racist living. Indeed, we have been carefully taught the opposite: how to maintain our white privilege.”
“Racism,” she continued, “the system (of oppression) and advantage (for white people) depends on the collusion and cooperation of white people for its perpetuation.”