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Indoctrination U: Willamette

By David Horowitz
September 21, 2006


Note: To view Part 1 of this series, click here: Indoctrination U: Colorado.
           To view Part 2 of this series, click here: Indoctrination U: University of Texas.
           To view part 3 of this series, click here: Indoctrination in One Department at Arizona State.

Williamette University is a private liberal arts school in Salem Oregon. Its Faculty Handbook makes very clear the right of Willamette students not to be subjected to political propagandizing or to be indoctrinated by their professors. The section of the Faculty Handbook that addresses this issue is called “Academic Freedom and Responsibility to Students” and this is what it says: “Students are entitled to an atmosphere conducive to learning and to even-handed treatment in all aspects of the teacher-student relationship. Faculty members may not refuse to enroll or teach students on the grounds of their beliefs or the possible uses to which they may put the knowledge to be gained in a course. Students should not be forced by the authority inherent in the instructional role to make particular personal choices as to political action or their own roles in society. [1] (Emphasis added)

 

However, entire departments and academic programs at Willamette violate these policies. Many of the courses required for all undergraduates violate them as well. Instead of adopting an academic approach to controversial issues these courses are devoted to ideological and political agendas, and are in fact advocacy programs designed to instill in students one-sided views of controversial issues.

 

 

                                     Required Willamette Courses

 

 

The Willamette catalogue under the heading, “General Education Requirements,” states  that an undergraduate “must complete at least five ‘Modes of Inquiry Courses,’ which fulfills the multicultural and ethics requirements, and are broken up into subcategories such as ‘Understanding Society,’ and ‘Analyzing Arguments, Reasons, and Values.’”[2]

 

Among the “Analyzing Arguments, Reasons and Values” courses is the following course from the Religious Studies Department:

REL 334 (AR) Liberation Theology and Social Change

A survey of Third World (particularly Latin American) liberation theology and its potential and actual impact on movements for human freedom in the North American context (e.g., those working on Black, Hispanic and Native American issues, feminism, gay liberation and economic justice). Analyzing Arguments, Reasons, and Values. Alternate years, Spring. Wallace

Liberation Theology is a doctrine that integrates Marxist ideology with the Christian faith. “Economic justice” is an ideological term for Marxist views that serve to morally condemn the free market system. “Gay liberation” is a political agenda, not an academic concept. Feminism is a political ideology. This is not an academic course examining liberation theology from a disinterested and scholarly perspective. It is a program of advocacy and indoctrination.

 

Another course offered to fulfill the “Analyzing Arguments, Reasons and Values” requirement for the undergraduate degree is offered by the American Ethnic Studies Department:

AES 351 (AR) Indigenous Peoples, Human Rights and the Environment
[Cross-listed with ANTH 351]


This course focuses upon environmental and human rights issues affecting indigenous peoples worldwide. Using the cross-cultural, comparative and field-based perspectives that distinguish anthropology, this course examines some of the most pressing problems facing the world’s indigenous peoples, explores strategies used by these groups in facing human rights and environmental violations, and offers students the opportunity to study about and take action on these issues….(Emphasis added.)

This course explicitly states its intention to recruit students to its political agendas. An academic course would not assume that non-indigenous individuals, i.e., Willamette students, should intervene in the affairs of indigenous peoples, for example. This course quite obviously violates Willamette’s Policy on Academic Freedom and Responsibility: “Students should not be forced by the authority inherent in the instructional role to make particular personal choices as to political action or their own roles in society.”

 

A third required course is offered by the Interdisciplinary Studies Department:

IDS 327 (AR; W) The American Story and the Legacy of Vietnam

Language has become a problem in the modern world: its expanding role as a means of global communication has, at the same time, accented the barriers to human understanding posed by competing ideologies concealed within languages. As a result, power, rather than argument or persuasion, has become the normal means for achieving national and personal ends. This seminar addresses, through selected case studies, the relationship of language and power in the American tradition and their impact on politics and ethics. The Vietnam War is offered as a case study. Writing-centered. Analyzing Arguments, Reasons, & Values. Narrative and Ethics in the American Tradition Cluster. Alternate years, spring. Collins, McGaughy

The professors listed for this course are Catherine Collins and Lane C. McGaughy. Catherine Collins is a Professor of Rhetoric and Media Studies. Lane McGaughy is a Professor of Religion and Religious Studies. Both lack any apparent qualification to teach an academic course involving such complex and controversial geo-political issues as the war in Vietnam.

According to its catalogue description, the course presumes that “power rather than argument or persuasion has become the normal means for achieving national and personal ends” and uses the Vietnam War, a controversial episode from the recent past, as its historical text. In other words, the presumption of the course is a political thesis – and a rather extreme one – that America’s resort to force in Vietnam could have been avoided in favor of persuasion. Moreover, the title of the course implies that this is a “legacy” which has had an impact on American policy ever since. Rather than a disinterested inquiry into the nature and causes of the war in Vietnam and American policy this course is a political argument.

The General Education Requirement can also be fulfilled with an “Understanding Society Component.” Here is one of the courses that students may take to fulfill the requirement, offered by the American Ethnic Studies Department:

AES 114 (US) Race and Ethnic Relations

[Cross-listed with SOC 114]



The nature of majority–minority relations in society are explored with a focus on the causes and consequences of prejudice, discrimination and racism, with special attention on the increasing importance of institutionalized racism in contemporary American society. Attention is also paid to how race relations have changed over time and the differences in the experiences of immigrant and racial minorities. Studies on race relations are explored from a variety of theoretical perspectives.

            This is not an academic inquiry into race relations but a course designed to indoctrinate students in a leftwing ideology of race. The course description specifies the focus of the course as “the increasing importance of institutionalized racism in contemporary American society.” This is a preposterous idea to begin with. The claim that there is “institutionalized racism” in America (let alone that it is “increasing in importance”) is purely ideological when applied to a society which outlaws all forms of discrimination. Any institution that practiced racism would be violating the equal protection clause of the U.S, Constitution and thus the law of the land. This is an example of the grip an extremist ideology has on parts of the academic curriculum at Willamette.                                           

                                               1. American Ethnic Studies

            The American Ethnic Studies Department is itself an ideological program. The following declaration appears in the catalogue mission statement of the American Ethnic Studies Department:

In particular, members of our program are committed to the discovery and exploration of how complex social relations of race, ethnicity, culture, and indigeneity [sic], in conjunction with other social systems and structures, can give rise to unjust social relations, limit human endeavor, and normalize privilege and oppression. The primary focus of our program is on traditionally underrepresented communities in the American social imaginary [sic]. Our coursework and scholarship seek to confront issues of social change and social injustice by the careful analysis of practices that frequently do not receive sustained critical assessment.[3]

            In other words this is not an academic department dedicated to the disinterested pursuit of knowledge about ethnic groups, but a department with an official and explicitly expressed ideology that the United States is an unjust and oppressive society. It offers a program of courses on the alleged injustices towards and oppression of communities in the “American social imaginary” whom the Department presumes to be “under-represented” (in what?) – again a conclusion in advance of any analysis. The “American social imaginary” is an ideological concoction to suggest that the concepts of race and ethnicity are “social constructs” – i.e., imaginary – designed to oppress certain groups. This official departmental description suggests that the entire American Ethnic Studies Department is in standing violation of the Willamette Policy on Academic Freedom and Responsibility, which states: “Students should not be forced by the authority inherent in the instructional role to make particular personal choices as to political action or their own roles in society.”

                                                      2. Women’s Studies

The Women’s Studies Department at Willamette is another department that is not academic. It is not devoted to disinterested scholarship and inquiry about the history, culture and sociology of women. It is a political program for indoctrinating students in theory and politics of radical feminism and can in no way be regarded as an academic program of study. The Department itself is quite frank about its agendas:

 

         Women’s Studies

The Women’s Studies minor is an interdisciplinary program focusing on feminist scholarship about women, gender and gender inequality. In addition to Women’s Studies core courses in the Interdisciplinary Studies Area, the minor also includes disciplinary courses that critique and revise traditional androcentric approaches within academic disciplines. All Women’s Studies classes encourage students to think systematically and critically about their experiences as gendered social beings and to confront the challenges of a society increasingly committed to gender equality ... Feminist scholarship … explores the important but often hidden ways that gender and gender inequality have shaped, and been shaped by, our cultural, social, and personal worlds.”

 

This is not a program of scholarly inquiry. It is a program to amass a dossier of evidence and argument with which to indict “androcentric” – male-oriented – “approaches within academic disciplines.” In other words, it is a political program. Moreover, it is a political program designed to link up with other radical political programs in regard to race and class. To quote the Department’s self-description: “In recent years, scholars in the field have increasingly recognized that gender and gender inequality cannot be understood in abstraction from other axes of social identity and power, especially those of race, class, sexual orientation, and nation. [4]

 

This is not a department devoted to scholarly inquiry but to developing an agenda to change the world. And the official departmental description emphasizes precisely this point: “All Women's and Gender Studies classes encourage students to think systematically and critically about gender and to confront the challenges of moving toward a more equitable world.”[5] Moving toward a more equitable world is a political program, and a program couched in the ideological jargon of the political left. It is not academic; it is not appropriate for an educational institution, let alone a taxpayer-funded one.

The Women’s Studies Department at Willamette University both in its conception and in its practice. The courses offered in the Women’s Studies curriculum are straightforward programs of indoctrination in radical feminist theory with no pretense of presenting students with an academic environment conducive to free inquiry and learning.

The Willamette policy states: “Students are entitled to an atmosphere conducive to learning and to even-handed treatment in all aspects of the teacher-student relationship.” How can students who are not radical feminists receive even-handed treatment in courses that require them to think like radical feminists? A Willamette student who does not accept the premises and goals of the program will fail out of the program, because he or she has failed to “understand” its core beliefs. More likely, such a student will never be admitted to the program in the first place. This is not an academic program. It is ideological and partisan, and it violates the academic freedom policies of Willamette University.

 

 




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