Borjas on Indoctrination

According to FIRE, The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education:

The University of Delaware subjects students in its residence halls to
a shocking program of ideological reeducation that is referred to in
the university’s own materials as a “treatment” for students’ incorrect
attitudes and beliefs….

The university’s views are forced on students through a
comprehensive manipulation of the residence hall environment, from
mandatory training sessions to “sustainability” door decorations.
Students living in the university’s eight housing complexes are
required to attend training sessions, floor meetings, and one-on-one
meetings with their Resident Assistants (RAs). The RAs who facilitate
these meetings have received their own intensive training from the university, including a “diversity facilitation training” session at which RAs were taught, among other things,
that “[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.”

George Borjas writes:

Why am I super-sensitive to this? Because as a young boy I myself went through a one-year course in ideological reorientation. I attended an elite elementary Catholic school in Havana. Castro took over, the Catholic school was shut down, and I got transferred to a revolutionary school where the entire day was spent teaching Marxist-Leninist ideology. Luckily, this lasted only a year and I continued my education in Miami (where the entire school day was instead spent talking about the upcoming football game). I am certain that the blind zealotry that I saw in the young teacher’s eyes that year turned me off from that particular way of viewing the world for the rest of my life. One can only hope that many of the students forced to attend the re-education programs at Delaware and other universities react in the same way.

I’d be interested to hear from anyone with first hand experience of the University of Delaware program.

Comments

Not to burst anyone's bubble, but this program is sure not as strifling as the bloggers / news media is making it out to be. I am an RA at UD and our main focus is getting residents to think about issues on their own. We do have to have one on one meetings and floor meetings with education-based themes but it is a very open and inclusive. This whole racism thing too is taken really out of context bc it was from an outside speaker we had during training.

JohnMcG, Sex is much more fun that Racism.

My sister went to UD 1997-1999 and she didn't go through said program.

From one of the university documents available through the links:

Citizens capable of contributing to the development of a sustainable society must first develop empathy. This empathy will be developed through an advanced awareness of oppression and inequity that exists at a local and national level. Students will become aware of inequities, examine why these inequities exist, understand the concept of institutionalized privilege, and recognize systematized oppression (e.g. individual, institutional, and societal). Students will also examine forms of oppression related to specific social identities (e.g. race, ethnicity, gender, sexual identity, SES, religion, and age) and will recognize the benefits of dismantling systems that support this oppression. By having this knowledge, students can then learn how to change these systems and other systems which impact equity of resources.

The stifling prose doesn't give me much hope that the program will be successful in impacting equity systems or contributing to sustainable society development.

A course on rhetoric for the author may help, or even just an afternoon with Strunk and White.

DG your point is well taken which is why I asked for anyone with first hand experience to report. Note also the title of the post. I thought Borjas's experiences and background were especially interesting regardless of the exact situation at U. Delaware.

Amazing isn't it? Denouncing the messenger and denial. In fact, all you have to do it poke around the UD website -relevant diversity parts of it -and you will see that Borjas fears are more than justified. Frightening, unless this is some Halloween joke.

FWIW, I've followed a lot of FIRE's activities thru the years, and calling them a bunch of neocon wingnuts strikes me as 'way off base. The organization came together during the worst of the PC years and has done a lot of really heroic work attacking thought-police absurdities and standing up for freedom of speech.

I agree that the UD program, at least as described, is repulsive, but there is something interesting about Borjas' comment:

...as a young boy I myself went through a one-year course in ideological reorientation. I attended an elite elementary Catholic school in Havana. Castro took over, the Catholic school was shut down, and I got transferred to a revolutionary school where the entire day was spent teaching Marxist-Leninist ideology. Luckily, this lasted only a year...

I don't doubt that the year spent studying Marxism-Leninism counts as "ideological reorientation." But what about the earlier years at a Catholic school? Did Borjas experience no ideological, i.e. religious, indoctrination there?

We still haven't heard from someone with first-hand experience of the program.

If UD were "indoctrinating" students with neoclassical economics, I doubt any of the commenters would be upset about it. They'd hail it as a great step forward in education.

No indoctrination necessary; just encouragement to think. Sort of the opposite of the UD program.

I have never been through a Marxist education, but I have been through a Catholic one (this was ages ago, when the Mass was still in Latin). I did not then and never since saw it as indoctrination. The concept of free will was fundamental to the Catholic doctrine - ultimately individuals could and did choose what to believe.

Contrast this with the concept of 'treatment' for 'racism', etc . The presumption is that students' minds need to be rewired so that they cannot engage in a thoughtcrime, so to speak.

I went through a freshman orientation class at a pretty stereotypical liberal arts school. You could probably make an argument that it was indoctrination (and this was a favorite topic amongst some of my more conservative classmates), but the experience is more of a constant gentle nudging towards the school/liberal world view as opposed to the intentional and coerced experience some might have you believe. If there was any sort of indoctrination happening, it came just as much from the overwhelmingly liberal student population as from the professors. That's not to say it wasn't full of organizational silliness though. I definitely had to suffer through a reading on the 'population bomb', which I understood to be discredited by the time it got to our gentle young minds in 2001. I was a bit of a loud mouth and had a good time playing devils advocate to the professor. Of course any facts or world bank predictions I presented were politely dismissed by the class at large.

More to the point: How bad was it? Meh, it was a pretty obnoxious waste of my parent's money, and I think there was quite a bit more reaffirmation of the beliefs people already held than actual changing of our collective young minds, but it was overbearing enough for the occasional fellow student to come up to me in private and thank me for arguing the minority view.

Maybe because I went to a good liberal arts bastion of liberal thought, all we ever got for floor meetings and RA-led activities had to do with dealing with school and studying stress, getting along with each other, and the school honor system and traditions.

"I am an RA at UD and our main focus is getting residents to think about issues on their own"

Since when is that an RA's job? As my RA, what I think about any issue is frankly none of your business. Nor is changing that view, whatever it may be.

That said, this is hardly new or restricted to this institution; UD just seems to be more open about it than most. What's interesting about nonsense like this is that going to college dramatically increases the likelihood one will trend to the right on political matters. The phenomenon trails off for those who...stay too long, but even they are far more likely to be Republicans than those who never went at all.

In a related, issue based phenomenon, I have to concede much of my skepticism about AGW stems from the relentless propaganda I heard in elementary and high school about how carbon dioxide was causing a new ice age. I suspect we don't see a flood of students complaining because they simply roll their eyes and move along, just as most of us did.

Could someone clearly delineate the difference between "indoctrination" and "education"?

Here's the UD response: http://www.udel.edu/PR/UDaily/2008/oct/reslife103107.html

Seems reasonable enough.

It appears no students were forced to attend anything, and UD is a private institution anyway. I don't hear anybody whining about "indoctrination" at Notre Dame.

more of a constant gentle nudging...as opposed to the intentional and coerced experience

Studies show that gentle nudging is much more effective (in the long run) than coercion.

If the documents posted by FIRE are cherry-picked from what was in fact a diversity of viewpoints, I assume that counter-examples will be forthcoming. (I'll be content if I hear from Laura about the other outside speaker they brought in to tell the kids that all that stuff about how blacks can't be racist is bunkum.)

They define racism as racial prejudice+power. Thus, a black person no matter how badly prejudiced against whites can be a racist because black people never have power over white people.

Wow. That's just *so* wrong.

Folks interested in this subject should check out the YouTube videos for Indoctrinate-U

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U2u9OJvw5wk

and

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=osRDemXv0_I

and

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OM6mIMij5IY

UD has cancelled the program. I suspect something similar will be cooked up later under another name with better cover, but this is a blow to the indoctrinators.

I'm sympathetic to the cause of not having college students indoctrinated, but the three posters who claimed any personal experiences with UD painted a rather different picture of this program than the FIRE documents and uninformed (by their own admission) posters.

It's not enough to be right on the principles, you also need to be right on the facts. Otherwise, you're walking off a cliff.

I'm sympathetic to the cause of not having college students indoctrinated, but the three posters who claimed any personal eve isk experiences with UD painted a rather different picture of this program

I am an RA at UD and our main focus is getting residents to think about issues on their own. We do have to have one on one meetings and floor meetings with education-based themes but it is a very open and inclusive.

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