UT Faculty Finds Itself on Conservative Watch List

Watch what you say

Four UT-Austin faculty members have landed on the newly inaugurated "Professor Watchlist," a conservative website created "to expose and document college professors who discriminate against conservative students and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom." Aggregated entirely from previously published stories that supposedly document the leftist bias of its subjects, the Watchlist is a project of "Turning Point USA," a student organization devoted to "free markets and limited government" – but radically skeptical, it turns out, of the university tradition of academic freedom. The four UT faculty members currently on the list are Prof. Jennifer Adair (Dept. of Curriculum and Instruction), for advocating the teaching of racial tolerance among schoolchildren; Prof. Joan Neuberger (Dept. of History), for having opposed allowing students to carry guns on campus; Prof. John Traphagan (Dept. of Religious Studies), also for opposing campus carry; and Prof. Robert Jensen (School of Journalism), for writing about the social causes of rape. The Watch­list, which currently includes about 200 names – and invites "tips" to add more – misrepresents the work (inside and outside the classroom) of all four UT faculty members, but will likely trigger right-wing attacks on those listed, and others to be added (some teachers have responded on Twitter by offering their own names or parody names). Neuberger told The New York Times she used to ignore such attacks, but "Now I say we fight as hard as we can against people who don't care about accuracy, who can't recognize fake news, and who seek to monitor what we do as educators." In an essay posted on Medium ("Professor Watchlist fails in reasoned argument"), Jensen defended his writing and teaching and repeated his classroom mantra, "Reasonable people can disagree." He graded the Watchlist, charitably, "incomplete."

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