University of Delaware Sets Politicized Agenda for Resident Assistants

By on February 19, 2008

Despite outrage from the national media, students, and civil libertarians, indoctrination still seems to be the goal of the University of Delaware Residence Life staff. The latest call for resident assistants at the University of Delaware has been issued, and the materials show an unrelenting effort to push a political agenda through the RAs to the students, flying in the face of official assurances from University of Delaware President Patrick Harker that the residential program would be suspended pending a full evaluation and a new plan.

For one thing, ResLife’s “Diversity Vision” still reads:

The Office of Residence Life, within its offices and its residence halls, will become a place where diversity among people is recognized, valued and demonstrated. Racism, sexism, heterosexism, ageism, ableism and other behaviors and systems that empower some while oppressing others will not be tolerated. Programs, policies, and procedures will reflect the importance and acceptance of diversity. Actions that encourage and promote diversity will be valued and rewarded.

Thus, to be a “successful” RA, one must be “committed to creating inclusive communities where all individuals can reach their potential emotionally, socially, intellectually, physically, and culturally.” RAs “can and do influence responsible behavior that benefits individual students and the whole residence hall community through the use of various strategies such as…[h]elping residents understand their rights and responsibilities as good citizens.”

ResLife has very specific ideas about what constitutes a good citizen, and the RAs are supposed to enforce and promote these politicized ideas.

Here are some of the specific job responsibilities that ResLife is advertising for RAs.

Engage in one-on-one dialogues with residents on your floor at the beginning of the year and with new students as they join the floor community. Maintain strong mentoring relationships and find out the goals of your residents. Develop opportunities for individuals to contribute to the floor society.

Discuss and address students’ concerns and problems, both individually and in groups. Initiate dialogue about individual and group dynamics before issues manifest.

Assist students as they develop the interpersonal skills, individual responsibility, and social awareness to be positive contributing citizens now and in the future.

Address intolerant behavior in the residence halls…Attend Administrative Hearings and serve as the Presenting Party for incidents you document.

Among the incidents that RAs will be expected to report—with the same speed and seriousness afforded to sexual assault, fire, and life-threatening emergencies—is “[a]ny instance that is perceived by those involved as being racist, sexist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, or otherwise oppressive.” Thus, prospective RAs are asked whether they are “comfortable dealing with issues of homophobia, racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, ableism and other forms of oppression.”

And here’s a sample question from the RA application.

We believe that a UD graduate should be an active and engaged citizen by understanding how his/her thoughts, values, beliefs and actions affect the people with whom (s)he lives. (S)He should also recognize his/her responsibility to contribute to society at a local, national and global level. How would you as a Resident Assistant help the students on your floor achieve that outcome?

It seems that ResLife still has every intention of treating and correcting the thoughts, values, and beliefs of University of Delaware students. ResLife remains the domain of heavy-handed oppressors who seek to use RAs to do what no student should be expected to do to another student.

Schools: University of Delaware