By Claire Halloran
Professor Watchlist, a website featuring 176 professors from around the nation who are noted for sharing what some call their “leftist” opinions in lectures is receiving backlash from educators for threatening freedom of speech in academia.
The website, which aims to call out professors for discriminating against right-wing students, was created by Turning Point USA, a conservative non-profit that aims to educate and train students who support free markets and limited government.
“TPUSA will continue to fight for free speech and the right for professors to say whatever they wish ,” the website says. “However students, parents, and alumni deserve to know the specific incidents and names of professors that advance a radical agenda in lecture halls.”
On the website, users can read the profiles of professors from institutions all across the country, all of whom have been marked as radically leftist by other publications, such as Campus Reform and The College Fix.
While some professors have been reported for minor incidents, such as Alba Lamar, an instructor at Michigan State University who was reported for teaching about the Dakota Pipeline and the refugee crisis, other professors on the list are noted for more serious offenses, such as ridiculing students for having opposing viewpoints.
Dr. Bradley Schaefer, a professor of physics and astronomy at Louisiana State University, was reported after he mocked conservative students’ beliefs regarding global warming, stating that they were “part of the problem,” and that they would “have blood on their hands.”
This raised concerns from many, including Campus Reform reporter Timothy Dionisopoulos, who spoke out against the “liberal abuse.”
Unlike RateMyProfessor, a website on which students can post reviews of a professor’s level of difficulty and quality of teaching, opponents say Professor Watchlist provides a one sided view, meaning it is filtered and supported entirely by conservatives, and ignores all other factors to focus on one incident, which could threaten a professor’s career, such as in the case of Olga Perez Stable Cox, a psychology instructor at Orange Coast College.
Cox was reported to Professor Watchlist after calling President Trump’s election “an act of terrorism.” An organization at the school, Orange Coast College Republicans, had a lawyer send a letter to the school’s president in an attempt to provoke action against Cox.
Using the website Free Academics, more than over 2000 professors have signed a letter in support of their fellow educators who have been reported to the list.
Free Academics was created after two professors at the University of Notre Dame, Dr. Gary Gutting and Professor Iris Outlaw, were targeted for facilitating discussions about gun control and white privilege at the Roman Catholic university.
“We will not tolerate our colleagues being subject to policing of their work, their thoughts and their teaching,” the open letter on Free Academics states. “We will not repeat the passivity of the past, when intellectuals were blacklisted for disagreeing with a particular agenda.”
Students and professors at DCCC have also been taking note of Professor Watchlist. Many students stand in support of the professors who are speaking out against the website, as they fear it will threaten free speech in the classroom and hinder their learning experience.
“Professors shouldn’t be shamed from talking about politically hot issues, because it can spur intelligent discussions,” said Bill Quinn, 21, a second year general studies major at DCCC.
But Quinn added that he has experienced professors being overtly political in the classroom, and said he disapproves of professors attempting to use their own views to entice students to change their own beliefs.
“The whole idea of academia is progressive and a more liberal ideology,” Quinn said. “We should keep liberal ideas in the classroom, but everyone does have the right to their beliefs. We shouldn’t be forcing any one standpoint on students.”
Contact Claire Halloran at firstname.lastname@example.org