EXCLUSIVE: Students call ISU's woke orientation materials 'propaganda,' 'indoctrination'

Iowa State University included documents in its required orientation leader training that some considered a symbol of the school imposing one viewpoint on students.

One ISU student that participated in the training module said the school tries to 'shove propaganda down the throats of new students.'

Iowa State University requires freshmen orientation leaders to complete readings on power and privilege, as well as a glossary of inclusive terminology prior. 

Two student leaders for Destination Iowa State, a project of the university’s admissions office, shared the documents with Campus Reform, confirming that the readings were mandatory for student leaders.

Both student leaders requested anonymity and reported to Campus Reform that the documents were included in the their training module. 

The first document, “Power & Privilege Definitions,” defines words such as “Institutional power,” “prejudice,” and “stereotype.” The document also designates “Levels of Oppression,” listing privileged groups such as “Able-bodied,” “Middle-aged people,” and “English-speaking people.”

This document also defines “Agents of Oppression” as “members of the dominant social groups in the United States, privileged by birth or acquisition, which knowingly or unknowingly exploit and reap unfair advantage over members of groups that are targets of oppression.”

Haylee Fishburn, a DIS student leader and vice chair of Young America’s Foundation, spoke with Campus Reform about her reaction to the document’s message.

“How degrading to tell me that I am an oppressor because I am White and a Christian,” Fishburn said, referring to ISU designating Christians as a privileged group.

[RELATED: GWU scrubs ‘Christian Privilege’ training from website]

One of the other student leaders told Campus Reform that the documents “ruin the [DIS] experience by trying to shove propaganda down the throats of new students by making them fear they won’t fit in if they don’t conform to the norms presented to them on their first days at university.”

The other document, “DiversityEdu Glossary of Terms,” includes definitions and links to sites such as “Privilege 101: A Quick and Dirty Guide.” This glossary is similar to other lists published by schools including Brandeis University and Texas A&M University, which aim to condition speech. 

[RELATED: Brandeis U: Don’t say ‘policeman’ or other ‘offensive’ language]

Kyle Poen, chair of ISU’s YAF chapter, told Campus Reform that he finds the materials to be disingenuous and a “complete waste of time and [source of] indoctrination for our students.”

Poen also objected to ISU, as a public university, taking such a stance on religion. 

Angie Hunt, news service director for Iowa State University provided Campus Reform with the following statement:

”Training for Destination Iowa State focuses on team leadership and program logistics to prepare team leaders to welcome new students and help them transition to Cyclone life. The information on privilege was not a required or mandatory part of the training, but included in a section of additional resources for team leaders to consider in their overall preparation. Organizers provide several resources to help students engage on these topics, which are regularly reviewed and updated.”

”As an institution, Iowa State University strives to be a welcoming and inclusive campus environment for all students, faculty, staff and visitors. University leaders encourage all members of the ISU community to do their part by following the Principles of Community – respect, purpose, cooperation, richness of diversity, freedom from discrimination, and honest and respectful expression of ideas.”


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