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This guide briefly retraces the rise of ideologically charged residential life programming on campuses and shows how such programs, despite their seemingly innocuous goals, in fact undercut the principles of rational inquiry that are foundational to the academic enterprise. In the fall of 2007, one university conducted a program for all 7,000 students in its dormitories--and sparked a national scandal. Described as an educational "curriculum," the University of Delaware's mandatory residential life program was designed to achieve certain "learning outcomes" centered on "citizenship" and "sustainability." The program went far beyond merely raising students' awareness of civic issues and opportunities for participation. The residence hall directors and student resident advisors were, in fact, trained to push an ideological agenda. Designing and implementing a meaningful residential life system need not involve reinventing the wheel. The faddish initiatives popular on many campuses today often amount to little more than intrusive political indoctrination and bureaucratic micromanagement. At the very least, trustees should make sure that their colleges and universities are respecting students' basic rights to freedom of speech and conscience and not adopt--or tolerate-- the kind of program that embarrassed the Delaware trustees and damaged Delaware's reputation. The report concludes by outlining the practical steps trustees should take to ensure that their institution's housing programs respect student rights and suggests other more meaningful ways of engaging students.

Descriptors: Dormitories, College Housing, Student Rights, Trustees, Guides, Residential Programs, Program Development, School Role, Communities of Practice, Sustainability, Citizenship Education, Social Justice, Teacher Participation, College Students, Student Participation, Well Being, Costs, Teacher Student Relationship

American Council of Trustees and Alumni. 1726 M Street NW Suite 802, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 888-258-6648; Tel: 202-467-6787; Fax: 202-467-6784; e-mail: info[at]; Web site:

Autor: American Council of Trustees and Alumni


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