A student at Vanderbilt University reportedly lost points on a quiz for not agreeing that the U.S. Constitution was “designed to perpetuate white supremacy.”
According to a screenshot the Young America’s Foundation (YAF) obtained from the unnamed Vanderbilt student, the online quiz was part of a undergraduate political science class on the 2020 U.S. elections. One of the questions asked students to answer true or false to the statement: “Was the Constitution designed to perpetuate white supremacy and protect the institution of slavery?” The student answered “false,” and that answer was marked wrong.
The syllabus of the course, PSCI 1150: U.S. Elections, says this is the” largest class that Vanderbilt has ever taught.” The university’s website lists PSCI 1150 as one of the five courses political science majors can take to fulfill their core requirements, as well as the College of Arts and Science’s broader requirement for a course in “History and Culture of the United States.”
Some 800 students are currently enrolled in PSCI 1150, according to YAF. The course is taught online by a group of four professors, notably among them is Pulitzer Prize–winning presidential historian Jon Meacham, who was featured on the last night of Democratic National Convention on Aug. 20.
“This blatant misinformation that is being peddled by these far-left professors to more than 800 impressionable students is despicable,” YAF’s Kara Zupkus wrote. “To attempt to boil down the country’s greatest founding document as simply being white supremacist is a new low—marking any student wrong who dares to disagree with this ridiculous statement is heinous.”
The test’s controversial question comes amid an ongoing debate whether the founding of the United States is rooted in racism—an idea embedded in New York Times’ revisionist 1619 Project and popularized during the nationwide unrest decrying racial injustice.
The 1619 Project is championed by New York Times journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, who believes that the U.S. history began in 1619 when the first enslaved Africans arrived in Jamestown, Virginia, rather than in 1776, when American colonists declared independence from Britain. In fact, the 1619 Project argues that the United States was racist in its founding, with the Revolutionary War fought to preserve slavery, and the Constitution written to consolidate systematic oppression against people of color.
A curriculum based on the project, developed by the Pulitzer Center, has made its way into public school districts across the nation, including in Chicago, Buffalo, Newark, and Washington.
“Many young Americans have been fed lies about America being a wicked nation plagued by racism,” President Donald Trump said last month during a press conference, adding that he expected students to be taught that the United States is “an exceptional, free and just nation, worth defending, preserving, and protecting.”
“The only path to unity is to rebuild a shared national identity focused on common American values and virtues of which we have plenty,” he said. “This includes restoring patriotic education in our nation’s schools, where they are trying to change everything that we have learned.”