Open Letter to University of Delaware Faculty on ResLife Proposal

By on May 5, 2008

This afternoon, the University of Delaware Faculty Senate is to vote on (or table till another time) a proposal for what I have described as another indoctrination program using evidence directly from the proposal.

I have sent an open letter to the UD faculty via the Faculty Senate in advance of the meeting. The text of it can be viewed here. I point the faculty to this evidence and say:

In this letter, I am asking each of you to read the 2008-2009 Residence Life Program Plan with the same level of critical engagement that you use when you are at your best in your field. I believe that if you do so, you will see why the proposal is unworthy of the University of Delaware for its unrelenting inculcation of a highly specific political agenda. Whether or not one agrees with elements of the agenda, a serious reader is likely to agree that this kind of “education” has no place in a residential program….

The ResLife directors are the same people who asked students when they discovered their sexual identity–in private one-on-one meetings with RAs. They gave students questionnaires regarding which genders and races they would befriend and date. They did much more with the explicit goal of pressuring all UD students to conform to ResLife’s “correct” views on controversial topics. These are now the same officials who want to take every opportunity–one-on-one sessions with RAs, floor meetings, bulletin boards, parties, and even career exploration sessions–to pressure students to accept ResLife’s ideology.

Again, I do not quibble with the merits of any particular ideology. But it is unworthy of a great university or any liberal arts education to begin with certainty about a wide variety of topics and then to embark on a program designed to pressure students to adopt them. Such re-education programs not only violate the Constitution and the canons of academic freedom, but they also are fundamentally at odds with the principles of a free society. Those who are so confident in their own ideology should let their ideas be tested and debated in the unique “marketplace of ideas” that a university offers, not empowered to declare truth with the imprimatur of the faculty….

Also, the Faculty Senate meetings can be watched live online via webcast. Since the ResLife proposal is at virtually the end of the agenda (see agenda section VII.3.E), you probably don’t need to start watching at 4 PM, but the meeting may go more quickly than you might think, even though there is so much for the faculty to discuss.

To attend the meeting in person, go to 104 Gore Hall on the Newark, Delaware campus.

Schools: University of Delaware