Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), November 1, 2007
Late Thursday, University of Delaware President Patrick Harker released on the school’s website a Message to the University of Delaware Community terminating the university’s ideological reeducation program, which FIRE condemned as an exercise in thought reform. He stated, “I have directed that the program be stopped immediately. No further activities under the current framework will be conducted.” Harker also called for a “full and broad-based review” of the program’s practices and purposes. While concerns remain about the University of Delaware’s commitment to free expression, FIRE commends President Harker for his decision to immediately terminate the Orwellian residence life education program. FIRE will have more on this development tomorrow. President Harker’s message is reproduced in full below.
A Message to the University of Delaware Community
Nov. 1, 2007
The University of Delaware strives for an environment in which all people feel welcome to learn, and which supports intellectual curiosity, critical thinking, free inquiry and respect for the views and values of an increasingly diverse population. The University is committed to the education of students as citizens, scholars and professionals and their preparation to contribute creatively and with integrity to a global society. The purpose of the residence life educational program is to support these commitments.
While I believe that recent press accounts misrepresent the purpose of the residential life program at the University of Delaware, there are questions about its practices that must be addressed and there are reasons for concern that the actual purpose is not being fulfilled. It is not feasible to evaluate these issues without a full and broad-based review.
Upon the recommendation of Vice President for Student Life Michael Gilbert and Director of Residence Life Kathleen Kerr, I have directed that the program be stopped immediately. No further activities under the current framework will be conducted.
Vice President Gilbert will work with the University Faculty Senate and others to determine the proper means by which residence life programs may support the intellectual, cultural and ethical development of our students.
[Editor’s Note: A discussion of the residence program at the University of Delaware can be read here.]