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University of Delaware Misrepresents ResLife Education Program to Trustees

On Monday, May 19, the Board of Trustees of the University of Delaware will be meeting to discuss, among other things, the Residence Life educational program proposal that was passed this Monday by the Faculty Senate. The Board of Trustees meeting is open to the public.

In a letter to Board of Trustees Chairman Howard E. Cosgrove yesterday, FIRE notes that the proposal is deeply problematic on its face because, like last year, it aims to change students' thoughts, values, attitudes, and beliefs to conform to the social and political agenda of the Office of Residence Lifea proposal developed and to be administered by the same people who ran last year's thoroughly discredited indoctrination program.

Also, as an educational program, the proposal has been improperly pushed through the university without proper review by educational committees. We wrote to Cosgrove:

We request that the Board either reject the proposal or send it back to the Faculty Senate so that the educational program can be properly assessed in accordance with the University of Delaware Constitution and Faculty Senate Bylaws. Likewise, it is the Board's duty to assess the proposal through the Board of Trustees Committee on Academic Affairs rather than the Board's Committee on Student Life and Athletics... The Board of Trustees puts the University of Delaware's reputation and accreditation in jeopardy if educational programming is not properly assessed by the Senate and Trustee committees with the fiduciary responsibility to do so.

This is not merely a procedural issue; it cuts to the heart of the faculty's oversight of educational programs at the university, as Stephen Balch of the National Association of Scholars has pointed out.

To make matters worse, the University of Delaware administration is trying to hide from the Trustees the fact that the ResLife program is an educational program. The Faculty Senate resolution regarding the program, as of May 5, referred to the educational program as a set of "educational plans." By the May 12 faculty meeting, the language had been changed to "residential program" in an apparent attempt to hide the nature of the program.

But the annual report of the Faculty Senate's Student Life Committee provides clear evidence that the program has been considered an educational program from the start. The annual report consistently refers to the program as either a "residential education program" or the "Residence Life Education program."

So, which is it? Is this an educational program or not? The Trustees should be getting a straight story from the UD administration so that they can judge for themselves whether this new program is something worth pressing upon the students of the University of Delaware.

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