Friday, November 02, 2007
Late Thursday, University of Delaware President Patrick Harker released on the school�s website a Message to the University of Delaware Community terminating the university�s ideological reeducation program, which FIRE condemned as an exercise in thought reform. He stated, �I have directed that the program be stopped immediately. No further activities under the current framework will be conducted.� Harker also called for a �full and broad-based review� of the program�s practices and purposes.A further report in the Philadelphia Inquirer highlights the backsliding that now is happening on the campus.
Michael Gilbert, the university's vice president for student life, acknowledged "missteps" in the program, which is intended for the 7,000 students living in dormitories on the 970-acre Newark campus.I'll update when FIRE posts more later this morning.
Among the problems Gilbert acknowledges: Resident advisers told students the sessions were mandatory when they were voluntary; the term "treatment" was used, which he said could be "easily misinterpreted" and "construed as inappropriate"; and students were rated "best and worst" by RAs after their one-on-one meetings.
Students "are not required to adopt any particular points of view but are presented with a range of ideas to challenge them and stimulate conversation and debate," Gilbert said in a posting on the university's Web site.
A few "overzealous" RAs told students they had to attend the meetings, he said. After students complained recently, they were informed last week that they did not have to attend.
As for the prying sex question, Gilbert said the exercise was intended to help students "reflect on a number of things" and to become "critical thinkers," and would continue.
It a student declines to answer "our obligation is to accept that and respect that," he said.
An RA who asked that he not be identified for fear of being fired said he was so uncomfortable asking students about sex and race in the one-one-ones that he never did it.
"It's an insane thing to ask," he said.
During the interviews, which are held twice a semester, staff evaluate students on their "level of change or acceptance," he said.
Gilbert said the only ratings were of RA interview skills.
The senior, who is in his second year as an RA, said: "There's very little dialogue. It's very much a monologue.
"They call it diversity, but what it really is acceptance of a specific set of dogma," the student said.
The president's note says the program has been misrepresented by the press. He'll have a harder time making that claim with the reports in the Inquirer's article.
Labels: higher education