Just about any dissection can be a grisly, unpleasant endeavor and the dissection in this post of the University of Delaware’s statement of support for it’s ideological reeducation camp approach to “free” thinking is no different. Hold your nose and let’s get started…
UD’s response to FIRE’s report begins:
The University of Delaware residential life educational program has been misrepresented and its goals distorted in a report generated this week by an advocacy group, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.
When looking through a fish-eye lens, the world certainly looks distorted, unless you’re the fish. No doubt, UD really, really, really believes they’re the good guys and that thing we all see as bendy is, in their mind, quite straight, correct and as it should be. In typically Higher Irrelevance fashion, they really, really, really “know” we all got it wrong.
“The central mission of the University, and of the program, is to cultivate both learning and the free exchange of ideas,” said Michael A. Gilbert, vice president for student life at the University. “Far from stifling free speech, the residential life educational program seeks to encourage free speech.”
“Vice president for student life”? Does someone actually HAVE that title? This program is about as far from promoting free speech as a drowning person is from calling for help. Fish-eyes.
Students who choose to participate in the residence life educational program are not required to adopt any particular points of view but are presented with a range of ideas to challenge them and stimulate conversation and debate so that students can reflect on various topics, including diversity.
Ha! It would seem the only choice they had was whether or not to attend UD. After that, not so much choice. Meta-model time, big shots. Which “range of ideas?” Challenging how? Stimulate what specific kind of conversations and debate? Diversity for whom?
“Our goal as educators is to expose students to ideas and to engage them in self-examination of the roles they hope to take in society once they leave our campus,” Gilbert said.
“Expose students to ideas and engage them in self-examination…” Ug. Please, UD, keep the trench coat closed, for all our benefit. Here’s an idea: work to make your students better engineers, scientists, or what ever else you claim to offer as professional training.
Students in residence halls are not forced to participate, and certainly are not forced to agree with any particular point of view. Students are faced with questions, but the answers to these questions are their own. There are no “correct” answers.
Just be sure to leave your answers with the man behind the curtain on the way out of the
interrogation exam question room.
“The notion that students at the University of Delaware can be coerced into any one point of view does a great disservice not only to the institution but also to the student body, which is bright, creative and represents a wide array of thought,” Gilbert said.
Patronizing fish-eyes. Let’s hope UD’s students are bright enough to see this for what it is. Apparently, I benefited from a public education which actually did promote critical thinking (although the Ward Churchill fiasco years later suggests CU has slipped a bit in this regard) and so has made UD’s shameful reeducation endeavor an easy read. From UD’s own reeducation camp material:
â€œ[a] racist is one who is both privileged and socialized on the basis of race by a white supremacist (racist) system. The term applies to all white people (i.e., people of European descent) living in the United States, regardless of class, gender, religion, culture or sexuality.â€
Just what is it about such a statement represents a “wide array of thought”? That statement is itself racist. The author (or authors) of that statement is the racist. Fish-eyes, baby. Fish-eyes.
The residential life educational program, which has been developed with the express intent of helping students think critically and analytically, has had the input of student leaders, faculty and administrators and is continually assessed through feedback from individuals and through focus groups.
And finally, UD contends the program is “continually assessed through feedback from individuals and through focus groups.” What we need to know…and I do mean NEED…is which individuals SPECIFICALLY. Which focus groups SPECIFICALLY. Reveal ALL details pertaining to this process so that it may, in the interests of CRITICAL and ANALYTICAL thinking, be evaluated by independent observers. ANYTHING less than this is smoke and mirror bureaucracy.
Fixed typo in title.