New AU student? Report for your oppression training

American University, in Washington, D.C., according to this document from last month, “is undertaking an ambitious plan to modernize the general education experience” with the assistance of a task force whose Nov. 30 report “outlines a dramatically different approach to liberal arts education,” one that includes “sustained attention to issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion.”

The draft of “Reimagining General Education: Toward a New AU Core Curriculum” envisages the following changes:

* All first-years would be obliged in their second semester to take a one- or three-credit course in oppression studies. Sample content: “Students will explore how historical violence, such as the early slave trade and genocidal conquests, shape the contemporary experiences of marginalized groups and struggles for human rights. Class materials will consider how entrenched systems of inequality marginalize some groups and privilege others.” (The draft text describes this as a three-credit course, but at another point says that whether it will be for one or three credits is yet to be determined.)

* “If budget allows,” “all students living on campus” will be housed with the cohort of students with whom they have taken the series of mandatory courses culminating in the oppression course. They will live under upper-class “mentors” and it is envisaged that “student support teams” will emerge from each cohort under the supervision of the mentors.

I wonder whether they will wind up calling these mentored support teams “block committees for the Defense of the Revolution.”

FIRE (the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) reminds us, citing a University of Delaware episode, that dormitory mentoring in oppression studies goes back a while. Meanwhile — more or less unrelatedly, except that at a higher level it is most certainly related — per this University of Louisville law faculty anecdote, a colleague who told students on the final day of class to “think for yourselves” and that multiple political viewpoints should feel welcome at the school was promptly hauled to account [Russell L. Weaver, Courier-Journal] (& Robby Soave, Reason)


  • I think the term you’re looking for is “Blockleiter.”

  • I wonder whether they will wind up calling these mentored support teams “block committees for the Defense of the Revolution.”

    Or “Committees for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice”.

    • Virtue? Vice? What are those? “When they send ‘repent’ I wondered what they meant.”

  • I know one school to cross off the investigation list of my high school sophomore.

  • SO, what happens to the first student who writes about how slavery enabled Africans, albiet generations later, to become members of a First World society so enriched, comparitavely speaking, that they now complaign of food appropriation?

  • […] students to enroll in several worrisome courses that the Cato Institute’s Walter Olson has astutely labeled “oppression studies.” The task force calls them “Complex Problems” and “AU […]

  • […] that all students must take to graduate—that include classes that have been (accurately) described as exercises in “oppression training.” The proposed changes were laid out late last year in a […]

  • […] More on scheme proposing mandatory oppression studies for first-year students at American University [Robby Soave/The Daily Beast (and thanks for mention), earlier] […]