Earlier today I interviewed Dr. Linda Gottfredson of the University of Delaware. She and a colleague, Dr. Jan Blits, led the way in exposing and ultimately stopping the university’s insidious indoctrination of students via on-campus housing. We discuss some aspects of the program that haven’t been in the press yet, how and why she and Dr. Blits exposed it, and its origins in groups like the American College Personnel Association and the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, both of which push the agenda and materials that made up the Delaware program. Click to play.
Update: Another victory against campus indoctrination, in San Francisco.
Update (MM): Here’s a partial transcript of the first half of the interview. Thanks to Professor Gottfredson for making the time for Hot Air readers!
BP: Welcome to Hot Air audio today. Bryan Preston here along with Dr. Linda Gottfredson of the University of Delaware. How are you today, Dr. Gottfredson?
LG: Very fine, thank you.
BP: Dr. Gottfredson, you’ve been involved in the story that we’ve been following this week of the indoctrination program at the University of Delaware in student housing. Tell me: How did the story get to FIRE and FIRE’s web pages? How did that happen?
LG: Well, it came by two routes really that joined together. FIRE had been receiving complaints from parents about the program. So they were investigating. My colleague, Jan Blits, were also hearing from our students about the indoctrination and one-on-one meetings and the like in the dorns and so we started looking into it. We were horrified by the materials that we were able to obtain. We passed them on to FIRE and then we learned that FIRE was already on the case and things went from there.
BP: So, students had already started complaining. I take that as a good sign that folks were not only disturbed, but they were willing to take some action against it.
LG: Yes, students, in fact, had been complaining to their R.A.s and to residence life, but not getting any response from them. So, we did take it to FIRE.
BP: And that was an excellent move. That’s what brought it to our attention. We check in with FIRE very frequently to see what they’re up to–
LG: –FIRE is an excellent organization.
BP: –they really are. And when I saw that story earlier this week, I had the sense that it was gonna have some legs.
LG: Jan Blits and I are members of the Delaware Association of Scholars—he’s president– and we’re always on the lookout for violations of academic freedom and civil rights. And so we were very interested in bringing this to public attention.
BP: And just so folks understand the perniciousness of this program, it’s not as though it was an optional class that college students, who are adults, had the option of taking.
This was in student housing, which is mandatory on the campus, right?
LG: It’s mandatory for all freshmen who are not living, getting an extension to live at home. Yes, it’s mandatory to live in the dorms. So many of the students were led to believe that the so-called educational component was also mandatory. In fact, to my horror, I discovered students thought that it was a requirement of the honors program in which I teach, which is a horrible smear on the honors program. It’s simply not true. It was not required. It’s not mandatory, although students were routinely told in very pressing e-mails from their R.A’s that it is mandatory, you must show up.
And they would track them down if they didn’t and pester them to come and make up meetings and one-on-ones with their R.A.’s.
BP: And I think bringing the R.A.’s into the discussion is a crucial one because by using the resident assistants, they could, the residence housing group, could really apply a great deal of pressure to students who didn’t want to be a part of this program.
LG: Well, they certainly can. They are a very large apparatus that controls the lives of their residence in detail–from who’s written up, who’s favored, and how their time is scheduled. The R.A.’s are apparently suddenly springing meetings on students and demanding that they come, even when students had other work to do. So students were very upset—it’s a drain on their time as well as their privacy and dignity.
BP: Right. Not to make too much of the connection, but it just reminds me of the political officer apparatus that the Soviets had. They’d always have a political officer on ships and every unit and just about everywhere else in society. This kinda reminds me of that.
LG: Well, I was horrified when I read the materials, these are the Residence Life’s own materials, which they were very proud of, in which they describe how R.A.’s would get close to students so that they were able to persuade them. They bring students in on these one-on-one sessions, which are supposedly required. They ask them the most–ask them intimate questions that I would get fired for asking a student—certainly behind closed doors—“when did you first discover your sexuality”…so, they were intruding on their personal beliefs, they were demanding in public that they state them and give reasons for them. They would have them in some of their exercises, floor meetings, require students to move to one side of the room or the other: “Yes or no on do you agree with rights for homosexuals to marry or abortions. No in between allowed. Yes or no…they would also have to give their reasons. So there was enormous pressure—this was just one example– to toe the line, the ideological line, which was very clear, I think, to all the students what it was…