The University of Delaware is engaging in “systematic thought reform,” according to a prominent free-speech group. Said free-speech group is basing its conclusions on “a selective citation of documents,” according to the university.
In a letter this week to the university’s president, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education said Delaware’s residence-life education program promotes specific views on race, sexuality, and morality among students. The group, known as FIRE, also likened the program to a description of thought control in the novel 1984, by George Orwell. The accusations set the conservative blogosphere aflame.
FIRE cited several documents describing Delaware’s program, a curriculum-based attempt to promote self-examination and discussion among the 7,000 students who live in campus dorms. According to one document, resident assistants recently attended a “diversity facilitation training” session, where they received a list of definitions of racism from a visiting speaker. The term “racist,” the list said, “applied to all white people (i.e., people of European descent) living in the United States.”
In a letter to FIRE released late Wednesday, Michael A. Gilbert, Delaware’s vice president for student life, rebuffed many of the group’s claims, including its assertion that the university requires students to participate in the program — or to adopt specific views. “This type of goal,” Mr. Gilbert wrote, “is both highly undesired and wholly unattainable.” —Eric Hoover