UD diversity training crossed the line into student intimidation

November 2, 2007

University of Delaware President Patrick Harker is to be commended for pulling the plug on a program that turned the quest for tolerance and understanding upside down. A report from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education showed that the university’s residential life program made a mockery of intellectual freedom in the way it treated students living in its dormitories.

Students were subjected to what can only be called intimidation and indoctrination on the issues of race and sexual identity.

The foundation is in the business of exposing this kind of intolerance on campuses, so it might be accused of political bias. However, when students came forth to back up the claim, university officials were duty bound to end it. The newly installed president’s immediate and forceful action ends what at best can be called a several-year-old, but seriously misguided effort.

Students from all backgrounds need to meet and learn about people who are different from themselves. Not only do they need to get along in the dorms, but that’s what the world beyond the campus requires.

That is not the same as trying to indoctrinate and pressure newly arrived freshmen into accepting reverse racial stereotypes and delving into sexual politics. At UD, students had been subjected to training that equates all white people with racists and urged to reveal their deepest sexual secrets either in public gatherings or to an official.

College spokesmen at first downplayed the matter by claiming some lower-ranking officials went too far or that such meetings were not mandatory.

That’s not what students said. Students were told the meetings were required. If they didn’t show up, there were confrontations with residence officials or e-mails asking where they were.

That was not teaching tolerance. It was an abuse of power. Thankfully, it’s gone.

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Schools: University of Delaware Cases: University of Delaware: Students Required to Undergo Ideological Reeducation