Five months after FIRE exposed the University of Delaware’s now thoroughly discredited residential indoctrination program, FIRE and other national organizations continue to keep the University of Delaware high on our agendas.
The National Association of Scholars (NAS) has reached a turning point in presenting Part 9 of an ongoing series of investigative reports titled “How Many Delawares?” This segment is especially worth reading. It is detailed and incisive, and it provides an excellent comparison to Delaware in the Intergroup Relations program at the University of Michigan. Believe me, this is a program that FIRE will be taking a close look at.
For its part, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) has sent a strong letter to the University of Delaware Board of Trustees. ACTA has asked the trustees for nothing less than to “demand that development of any new program be put on hold indefinitely.” I agree that no program at all would be better than a program that’s anything like what the University of Delaware Office Residence Life perpetrated through 2007 and wants to perpetrate again in 2008.
And a state affiliate of the NAS, the Delaware Association of Scholars (DAS), has distributed its own press release welcoming ACTA’s letter and registering the same concerns that ACTA and FIRE have expressed. According to the DAS release, signed by DAS president and Delaware professor Jan Blits:
No Residence Life program, especially at a public university, should attempt to shape the souls of students. Such a program, inculcating beliefs, attitudes and actions, violates the First Amendment, which UD, as a public university, is bound to protect and which it failed to protect in its now-suspended program.
Unfortunately, as far as we have been able to determine, none of the several proposed programs which Residence Life has drafted are significantly different from the discredited program they are intended to replace. The differences are merely superficial and cosmetic. Though the violations are better disguised, the proposed programs are still exercises in ideological “education.”
We therefore join ACTA in urging the UD Board of Trustees to ensure that UD’s new Residence Life program be a traditional residential program—one respecting the free speech, privacy and freedom of conscience of all students.
Why do all these groups continue to keep Delaware on our radar? Well, the violations were great, the Residence Life staff remains unrepentant and in office, and the risk of future violations therefore remains high. If the University of Delaware cannot moderate its own ambitions to interfere with the free conscience of its students, someone needs to step in. I still think the faculty might be able to do it. But if they cannot and the trustees cannot, maybe it will have to be Governor Ruth Ann Minner or the Delaware Attorney General. If Governor Minner wants to promote a “Livable Delaware,” perhaps she should encourage the state’s leading university to become a place where parents can feel safe sending their children and where students can feel that their right to their own core beliefs will be respected.