by Jan Blits
Let me briefly explain. This will serve as a warning to those of you who don’t yet have such programs on your campus. You’ll see why the threat to all schools is real.
Until very recently, those who ran college dorms were interested in student housing, dining, safety, study breaks, health, home—sickness and other such matters. However, many of those running dorms, today, have a new, grandiose mission, which they’ve appropriated for themselves. These Residence Life administrators regard themselves as educators—in fact, as their institution’s real educators. While faculty, in their view, do nothing more than fill students with facts, the Residence Life administrators shape the whole human being, they say. Faculty may shape careers, but Residence Life shapes souls. In their view, the college or university has no higher mission than soul-craft, and Residence Life is best prepared to fulfill it.
If you look at the publications of their professional organization (the American College Personnel Association), you’ll see that they proclaim “a shift in thinking.” They say that the traditional distinction between “academic affairs” and “student affairs”is misguided. Residence Life officials must unite the two. They must “create living-learning environments that fully engage students at meeting desired learning outcomes.” The key phrase is “learning outcomes.” It means the administrators’ desired political results. ResLife administrators are to create so-called “education” programs that change students’ opinions, beliefs and actions so they agree with the administrators’ own political views. The aim is to “turn” students, as I quoted, earlier. Success in a traditional Residence Life program used to be measured by the number of students attending an event and how much they liked it. Success in a new “educational” program is measured by how much the (captive) students’ opinions, beliefs and (most of all) actions have changed to meet the desired political outcomes.
Now, some people defended the program by arguing that administrators have the same academic freedom as faculty. ResLife administrators should therefore be as free as faculty to educate students. This argument may sound plausible, especially to those who support academic freedom (as I do), but it overlooks something crucial. No faculty member (at least at my institution) may do what Residence Life attempted. Academic freedom does not mean that anything goes, that I may do whatever I like with my students. Academic freedom permits me to teach, but not to indoctrinate.
Read the whole speech.