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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

University of Delaware, Jerkoff of the Week, or When Liberalism goes Completely Insane

"A RACIST: 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. By this definition, people of color cannot be racists, because as peoples within the U.S. system, they do not have the power to back up their prejudices, hostilities, or acts of discrimination….'"

A quote from the Black Panthers' Mission Statement perhaps? Nope, guess again.

This quote is taken directly from the University of Delaware's Russell Complex resident curriculum, that basically requires all white students to acknowledge that they are privileged racists. If you have the stomach for it you can read the entire thing here (it's a PDF download). But be warned, it's 99 pages long and appears to have been written by a group of people suffering from some form of bizarre shared mental illness.

Numerous articles have been written regarding this program in recent days and I don't want to tread already trampled ground. And it does appear that UD has, at least temporarily, suspended the program of mandatory indoctrination due to the massive negative backlash. Instead, what I want to do is examine how a fundamentally admirable assumption can go horribly wrong through the application of faulty logic and group thinking.

UD's original objective appears to have been sound, which basically can be summed as: Diversity is Good, I Gotta Get Me Some Of That. Then the curriculum developers made some seriously flawed assumptions in support of this objective:

The first assumption was that Student Affairs (the University department traditionally devoted to non-academic student needs, such as housing, employment, tuition, medical, etc) can no longer be just a 'service provider.' Instead, according to 'Leading Scholars' Student Affairs must take an active role in 'designing and delivering an intentional, sequential, and outcome based out-of-class education.'* The new direction for Student Affairs is to 'focus on student learning, rather than student satisfaction.'
*Rationale Statement, page 3-5, Russell Complex Curriculum, Designing Initiatives for Social Justice. Everything else in this document depends from this basic assumption.

Let's start right here. Strangely, for an institution devoted to higher learning, UD seems unable to see the immediate problem with this rationale. In fact, I would almost have to assume that neither the Dean nor the Board of Regents actually read the curriculum plan, because this rationale is so fundamentally flawed that I simply can't see how either could have let it pass their desks. Student Affairs, by definition, is composed of non-academics and non-educators, i.e. Student Affairs is a Service Department composed of service orientated personnel. Student Affairs is not manned by professors. However, with the implementation of this curriculum (that 'out-of-class education' statement) the UD Student Affairs department has effectively self-promoted itself from student support to student education. In other words, they have decided, without academic accreditation, to make themselves into teachers. How exactly, does an accredited institution allow that to fly? This is absolutely no different than if the electricians and plumbers in the Maintenance Department suddenly decided to start teaching mandatory Political Science classes in the student lounges.

The rest of the introduction portion of the document goes on to lament that incoming freshman, while they may have had some diversity education in primary and secondary schools, simply do not have more than a 'surface-level understanding of power and privilege,' and that 'student affairs professionals find they must work to prompt discussion regarding true issues of power and introduce concepts on inequality to the diversity education framework.' Emphasis mine. Question here, who decides what the 'true issues of power' are exactly? Answer, apparently Student Affairs professionals, that's who. Next Question, and what exactly do Student Affairs professionals use to determine this fundamental truth? Answer, beats the hell out of me, since this issue has been debated endlessly without concrete or irrefutable conclusion by philosophers and sociologists since the dawn of time. Apparently, however, the Student Affairs professionals at UD have achieved a breakthrough in the understanding of social power structures that has eluded some of the greatest thinkers in history. Last Question: why is it necessary for Student Affairs to 'introduce concepts on inequality?' If you can force yourself to read the 'Reflection on First one on one' (yeah, I've got no idea what the hell that means either) starting on page 67 of the Curriculum Summary, you'll see that the Diversity Interviews are conducted exactly like fundamentalist Christian cult indoctrination. The interviewers attempt repeatedly to force the interviewee to confront their own (assumed) lack of diversity awareness. These interviews proceed directly from the quote at the top of this post, i.e. all white people are racists. Period. This is a given, and irrefutable. Any student who doesn't firmly believe this about themselves is mentally ill (don't take my word for it, go read the interviews for yourself, I'd be interested in what you think. Personally I find it revolting). Finally, the curriculum rational also states quite clearly and specifically that 'the current generation of students was raised to believe that they were "special" by Baby Boomer parents who were able to lavish them with attention and resources.' This, in a curriculum supposedly devoted to the principle of not stereotyping others? Is it just me who sees the hypocrisy here? And isn't raising a child to believe they aren't special, with anything less than total self-esteem, a form of child abuse according to the current thinking? Isn't that what all those "My Child is a Super Star at Shitforbrains Elementary" bumper stickers are all about? I'm not following the complaint here.

I could go on. I can't find a single paragraph is this curriculum that isn't rife with faulty logic, incorrect or unsubstantiated assumptions, or filled with just outright batshit lunacy. But I've got other things to do today so I'll just get right to the point, which is this - This 'curriculum' is nothing more than an insidious piece of racist garbage. Period. It is based entirely on the following single assumption which is stated clearly and unequivocally in the document: All White Americans of European descent are racist, no person of color can be a racist, period. This assumption is quite possibly the single most idiotic, illogical, and just plain hypocritical statement ever made by a mainstream institution, because it (follow me here) uses racism in an attempt to fight racism. UD says racists are racist based solely on their race, no other factor matters because if you are a member of a particular race, then you are de facto a member of the power elite, and thereby guilty.

Again, it would appear that UD has at least temporarily suspended this program, pending review. But don't think it's gone, and don't think it won't creep back into the program in a different guise. Fundamentalist Diversity is to extreme liberals what Creationism is to Fundamentalist Conservatives.

I don't know about you, but I damn sure ain't sending my kid to the University of Delaware. What a complete bunch of jerkoffs. Racist jerkoffs.

Update: Anybody from UD reading this? Please explain to me why this wasn't incorporated into the formal PoliSci, Philosophy, or Sociology curriculum. Taught by accredited professors in a lecture format, or classroom, instead of one-on-one and mandatory discussion groups in the dorms?

2 comments:

  1. Oh, my. This is much jerkier than my feeble little suggestion.

    But then, what do I know? I'm just a white American of European descent...a racist, by definition.

    I think I understand the difference between "racism," "bias," and "prejudice." I also understand the prevailing theory surrounding "power" and all of the above, thanks to some required reading over at The Angry Black Woman. I have a reasonable idea of my own unearned advantages, and understand the concept of privilege.

    However, it seems like these yahoos took a reasonable expectation of awareness, and ran right over the edge of the cliff.

    I genuinely believe "Diversity is a Good Thing" and I think (especially) colleges need to "Get Them Some of That," but dude, seriously?

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  2. Janiece, yeah, that was my take on it too. A friend in Mexico actually keyed me to this, and I thought he was pulling my leg. Unfortunately, not so much.

    Just goes to show you though, the NeoCons don't have the corner on raving insanity. Sigh.

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