Today, FIRE releases a new documentary entitled Think What We Think… Or Else: Thought Control on the American Campus. Produced by FIRE and Free to Choose Media, the video explains the University of Delaware’s Office of Residence Life’s invasive thought-reform program and features personal interviews with FIRE staff and UD students and faculty involved in revealing the scandal.
In the fall of 2007, the University of Delaware implemented an Orwellian program of ideological reeducation aimed at coercing students to change their thoughts, habits, and values to conform to a highly specific ideological agenda. Over 7,000 undergraduate students living in the dorms at UD were required to attend training sessions, floor meetings, and "one-on-one" meetings with their Resident Assistants (RAs), who followed procedures described internally by ResLife as a "treatment" and defined "learning" as "specific attitudinal or behavioral changes" in line with ResLife’s social, economic, political, and environmental agenda.
When FIRE learned of the thought reform program at UD, we immediately launched a campaign to bring the attention of the national media to the situation. People from across the ideological spectrum were outraged that a public university would enact such a program, and pressure was on the university to either justify or abandon the program. After a weak attempt at justification and several days of intense scrutiny and terrible publicity, UD President Patrick Harker finally terminated the program.
Think What We Think… Or Else serves as a reminder to college and university administrators that programs like that established at the University of Delaware are flagrant violations of students’ right to freedom of conscience—and that colleges with programs that emulate UD’s failed effort just might end up as the subject of FIRE’s next documentary.