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Psychotherapy in the Delaware Dorms

Tom Wood at the National Association of Scholars has begun a series of articles on the notorious Residence Life program at the University of Delaware, under the title “Tracking Down Indoctrination.” In the second article in the series, “Psychotherapeutic Interventions, Transformative Learning, and the Dorms of U Delaware,” Wood makes a good observation about the scope of the Delaware coverage thus far:

[V]irtually all of the attention has been directed at the details of the radical views on race it promulgated. Little or no attention has been given to placing these details within the larger context of the concept of “education” that inspired and drove the program. This is unfortunate, because understanding the wider context of the ResLife program at Delaware is as important as the details.

Wood thus investigates some of the principles of the “transformative education” concepts used at Delaware and finds them to be much like psychotherapy or behavior modification, not the kind of education we might expect at a liberal arts university:

The important question is this: What does this kind of psychotherapy or “transformative learning” have to do with higher education? What was it doing in the dorms at U Delaware? Psychotherapy (even behavior modification) might have value for certain people and in the appropriate context, but surely a program organized by a university in one of its dorms is not one of them.

Stay tuned for more from Tom Wood in this series. As he says, and as FIRE is finding out from students and RAs around the country, “we already do know that U Delaware was not alone in having a ‘living learning’ or ‘residential learning’ program devoted to the themes of multiculturalism and diversity. Some of the programs falling under this description at other universities will be the subject of the next posting.” If universities are interested in developing students’ understanding of such themes, they need not—should not—must not—resort to the invasive methods of psychotherapy and behavior therapy to accomplish that goal.

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