NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF SCHOLARS
May 2, 2008
Contact: Stephen H. Balch, President
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
University of Delaware Could Reinstate Residence Life Indoctrination Program
PRINCETON, NJ—On April 30, the University of Delaware released a proposal for a new residence life model. The National Association of Scholars urges the Faculty Senate to reject the plan at its meeting on Monday, May 5.
The submission is essentially a repeat of its predecessor program. Some of the text has been re-worded but its meaning remains unchanged. The new plan focuses on seven learning goals, each of which is a re-statement of the twelve previous “learning outcomes” or “competencies.”
The proposal’s plan for freshman activities is to “promote interaction, prompt self-reflection, and facilitate the building of a sustainable community through exploration of citizenship.” While student “interaction” is a worthy goal of residence life programming, ideologically-driven efforts to induce “self-reflection” and push sustainability are perversions of appropriate residence life authority.
University of Delaware president Patrick Harker ended the original residence life program in November after its ideological agenda was exposed by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and our state affiliate, the Delaware Association of Scholars. The old program implemented a “curricular approach to residence life,” in which resident life officials and student assistants used “learning goals” and “lesson plans” to affect students’ “thoughts, values, beliefs, and actions,” outside the classroom. Residence life officials illegitimately assumed a role on par with the faculty; pressured students to adhere to the ideology they projected; and carried out the program without the knowledge of the faculty.
Although some criticism of the program in its aftermath focused on whether or not the sessions were mandatory, NAS regards an “optional” indoctrination program as no less unacceptable. Residence life personnel will still be without competency to teach and students will still feel pressured to participate.
The proposal’s gestures to include faculty participation fail to solve the underlying problem: residence life personnel have no business teaching subjects with which they have no intellectual competence. Commenting on this attempt at “repackaging,” NAS president Steve Balch observed, “The residence life personnel at Delaware still haven’t learned their lesson. The teaching function belongs to the faculty, not to them. It’s time for UD’s faculty to again remind them of this basic fact.”
The National Association of Scholars is America’s foremost higher education reform group. Located in Princeton, NJ, it has forty-six state affiliates and more than four thousand professors, graduate students, administrators, and trustees as members.