Press Releases | Freedom of Expression

Depoliticizing the Dorm Rooms

March 19, 2009

WASHINGTON, DC—The American Council of Trustees and Alumni released today a short documentary film that introduces trustees to the important role they play in ensuring freshmen orientation programs don’t violate students’ freedom of speech and conscience. The film spotlights the University of Delaware, whose residential life program caused a national uproar when its ideologically-charged “curriculum” was exposed. Though the uproar has since subsided, universities across the country continue to implement similar programs.

The film, Orientation or Indoctrination? The University of Delaware’s Troubling Residential Life Program and Trustee Responsibility, was sent to the boards of more than 500 universities that are responsible for the education of nearly six million students. It features interviews with students who were subjected to the residential life program and with professors who vigorously campaigned to have it eliminated.

“The classroom should not be politicized—and neither should the dorm room,” said ACTA president Anne D. Neal. “Our film shows trustees, in living color, what happened at Delaware and urges them to ensure their university is not indoctrinating students in the dorms.”

Delaware’s Office of Residence Life instituted the ideologically-charged “curriculum” in the 2007-2008 academic year. After the content of the program was brought to light, President Patrick T. Harker terminated it in November 2007. The Office of Residential Life then announced a revised program which the Board of Trustees voted to approve in May 2008, in spite of its continuing resemblance to the original alarming program.

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni is an independent non-profit dedicated to academic freedom, academic excellence and accountability. Since its founding in 1995, ACTA has counseled boards, educated the public and published reports about such issues as good governance, historical literacy, core curricula, the free exchange of ideas and accreditation in higher education.


Launched in 1995, we are the only organization that works with alumni, donors, trustees, and education leaders across the United States to support liberal arts education, uphold high academic standards, safeguard the free exchange of ideas on campus, and ensure that the next generation receives an intellectually rich, high-quality college education at an affordable price.

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