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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Expert to discuss cult-like behavior

An expert in cult dynamics will lead discussions on organizational cult dynamics at the Student Union Memorial Center today.

Doni Whitsett, social worker, clinical professor and associate director of faculty development for the University of Southern California, will lead several workshops directed at UA campus and Tucson community members.

“You have to distinguish a benign group from a malignant one,” Whitsett said. “There are actual criteria.”

Whitsett will hold three workshops in the Union Kiva Room throughout the day. At 9 a.m., she will give a contemporary overview about cult dynamics within organizations for campus and Tucson community members. At 11 a.m., Whitsett will give a more in-depth explanation about identifying concerning behavior in relation to cult dynamics for UA Student Affairs and Enrollment Management staff. At 2 p.m., she will discuss the role of student leaders relating to group dynamics that may lead to cult-like behavior.

Whitsett was invited to speak at the UA by university officials; she said she will talk about the criteria and characteristics students and faculty should be aware of when it comes to recognizing cult dynamics.

Kendal Washington White, assistant vice president for Student Affairs, said all ASUA clubs and affiliated organizations are invited to come to the student session at 2 p.m. to learn about the role of student leaders in dealing with cult dynamics. White said education about this topic is very important, and she believes strongly in educating the student community in particular.

Whitsett said a student who thinks they may be getting involved in an organization that shows signs of cult dynamics should ask themselves a few questions.

“I think people should question if they really allow themselves be critical, and to critically think about the group they’re getting into, and if they ask questions and are appreciated for asking those questions,” Whitsett said. “I think education is the key, really, and that’s why we’re here: because education is preventive.”


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