Thursday, October 18, 2007

Duke, Dick & “Duh”

Elliot Wolf is a Duke senior who’s worked tirelessly to persuade the University to do more to assure all students are treated fairly. He also writes a weekly column for The Chronicle.

In today’s column Wolf says the University has discovered undergraduates need to be “developed.”

You may be thinking, “Of course, the arts and sciences, the search for truth, the traditional values of The Academy.”

But that’s not the kind of student development Wolf says Duke has in mind

Wolf explains:

[H]undreds of Student Affairs employees [are now] trained specifically to "develop" us. They are trained to nurture our "psychosocial and identity" needs, with respect to "cognitive-structural" considerations and "typology."
Wolf’s entire column is here. I’ll link to it again at the end of this post.

What follows are excerpts from Wolf’s column in italics and my comments in plain.

Just how is Duke “developing” students as it slogs through the fourth year of Dick Brodhead’s presidency?

[By using] the three major components of a rather obscure field called "student development theory," situated somewhere near the crossroads of sociology, psychology and babysitting.

Per a division-wide mandate instituted in 2004, most salaried employees in Student Affairs hold master's degrees that include training in student development theory, and for many it was the primary focus of their postgraduate education.

Its tenets have been cited as justification for the comical (but ultimately nauseating) state of undergraduate judicial policy, the policies surrounding whom Student Affairs can hire, the programs and services provided by Student Affairs and much more.

In a more gratuitous example of its application, Residence Life and Housing Services told Sigma Phi Epsilon to rename their "Dorm Wars" competition "Hall Brawl," because the word "Dorm" wasn't considered sufficiently welcoming.

Folks, what is it about PCers and Leftists such as those now dominant at Duke that they so often want to rename things that already have perfectly satisfactory names?

“Dorm” to “Hall” reminds me of what the Socialist government in Britain tried to do when it took power after WW II: use the term “housing accommodation units” for what had traditionally been called “homes.”

Back to Wolf and Duke:

So what is this "discipline?" What's so great about it that allows it to define the extracurricular relationship between the institution and its students?

As far as I can tell, it's not really a "discipline."[…]

After checking out 15 volumes on the subject from Perkins and scouring the Internet, I've reduced student development theory to two components: (1) tautology, or statements that are either repetitious of already widespread ideas or otherwise very obviously true, and (2) absurdity, or statements that simply don't make sense.

In other words, student development theory consists of the "duh... " and the "what!?!"

To demonstrate, each of the following quotes comes from a book, scholarly article or Web site on student development theory. Source references and additional quotes are posted at

On the "duh... “ side, student development theory stresses that, "on any number of campuses, on any given day, students engage in a variety of acts."

Recognizing that students are somewhat rational beings, one guide states, "satisfaction of one's own needs and occasionally the needs of others determine actions."

And as anyone who's been dumped can attest, "individuals seek acceptance and friendship among peers; adults seek a mate. Thwarted needs for belonging and love are considered to be a primary source of maladjustment."

Furthermore, "the pursuit of lifelong learning further extends the educational sphere into a person's entire life."

Indeed, and oranges are orange.

What’s more, they should never be confused with green apples, which are easily identified by their green skins.

At least that was the way it was when I was at Duke.

But I suppose all that may have changed because of what we’ve learned since we started looking at apples and oranges through the prisms of race, class, and gender.

Duke President Dick Brodhead has so far been unable to explain why he refused for months to meet with the lacrosse parents; and why he said nothing when their sons came under attack by Mike Nifong and certain Durham Police, Duke faculty and “rights activists.”

With Parents’ Weekend just two weeks away, I wonder what Brodhead is planning to tell parents about all the “duh” we now have at Duke.

Wolf’s entire column is here.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like an expensive kindergarten, doesn't it?

Ralph Phelan said...

For decades now tuition has been rising at twice the rate of inflation. Where does it all go?

Here's one answer.

Anonymous said...

The Chinese are preparing their students to dominate the world. I know, I have been there 6 times recently. We are preparing ours to give it to them.

Anonymous said...

More and more, Duke reminds me of the old saying: Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach.

That gobbledygook "discipline" would be funny if it weren't for the fact that those in charge of teaching buy into this garbage.

Mike from Dallas

Anonymous said...

"Sounds like an expensive kindergarten, doesn't it?"

It sounds more like a brain washing factory to me.

lb said...

and of course just today in the chronicle brodhead announces plans for duke as an international factor when he cant even claim duke is a functional domestic factor. sorta makes ya proud to know...brodhead is in charge.