Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Delaware Program Approved By Trustees

The University of Delaware trustees, to their credit, decided yesterday
not to ban educational programs in the residence halls. Anne Neal of ACTA was “disappointed” by the failure of the trustees to ban “the controversial ‘educational’” activities. Candace de Russy, who is on the advisory board of FIRE, had a much stronger reaction to the trustees, “It is time to consider measures by which to penalize them for their derelection of duty.” Astonishingly, de Russy wants to see trustees removed from their positions for refusing to ban voluntary activities. Neal and de Russy object that the program “asks students to post answers to highly personal questions on public bulletin boards—such as for whom they are voting and how they define love” or “to bring their ‘favorite material possessions’ to a floor meeting.” But there’s a key word here: “asks.” There’s absolutely nothing mandatory about this participation, and if students want to post their views about love, why do ACTA and de Russy want to stop them?

Unfortunately, the Delaware program has already been dumbed down by this political pressure, and I fear that the monitoring of the program, rather than protecting students from violations of their rights, will be used to try to prohibit staff and students from adding additional educational activities. Certainly, the University of Delaware situation needs to be watched to ensure that no one infringes upon intellectual freedom, no matter what side they’re on.

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