Group Offers Money for Reports on Left-Wing Faculty
RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
Faculty at the University of California at Los Angeles are alarmed over what some are calling a campus witch-hunt. A conservative alumni group is offering to pay students to monitor professors who've been branded as left-wing radicals. NPR's Elaine Korry has more.
ELAINE KORRY, Reporting:
They've been dubbed the Dirty 30, a group of UCLA professors accused of far-left views. And the Bruin Alumni Association is after them. This non-profit group was founded a year ago by Andrew Jones, Class of 2003. A former Republican student leader, Jones' mission is to expose faculty who he says are indoctrinating students.
Mr. ANDREW JONES, (Student, Class of 2003): We're not looking to crush everybody to the left of John McCain. We're actually looking to deal with in a respectful manner that respects their free speech and intellectual property rights, professors who are profoundly abusive of students in the classroom.
KORRY: Jones, who majored in Political Science, says he's compiled a list of examples where professors dismissed the viewpoint of conservative students. He says students are routinely brainwashed into rejecting American values, the military, and the Bush Administration. And he says the B.A.A. is prepared to pay students who help expose these professors.
Mr. JONES: If they go ahead and collect information, at the very high standard that we are asking, very detailed notes, and taping every single class lecture, then we will pay them a pittance, $100.00, for their hard work over 10 weeks.
KORRY: Jones says at least one unnamed student has already signed on. But paying for information crossed a line for some members of the B.A.A.'s Advisory Board. Harvard Historian Stephan Thernstrom, a one-time UCLA Professor, joined the Board because he says radicalism is on the rise at many elite universities. But Thernstrom rejects this latest tactic.
Mr. STEPHAN THERNSTROM (Winthrop Professor of History, Harvard University): I think that is a shift from a legitimate activity to something that smacks of vigilantism, and it was objectionable to me, and particularly objectionable was that I hadn't been consulted about it. So, I resigned from the Board.
KORRY: Jones confirmed that a second Advisory Board member has resigned. University officials are also calling foul. Although there's been no legal action, they have warned Jones that selling copies of professor's lectures is against campus rules and copyright laws. Outside a campus café, some students said the Bruin Alumni Association's hit list has already had a chilling effect in their classes. Twenty-three year old Christine Vega says her Women's Studies professor is on the list.
Ms. CHRISTINE VEGA, (UCLA Student): She announced that she needs to be very careful with what she says. And in order for us to record her in class, we need to ask permission, and have a written statement, because she actually is blacklisted already, and her concern was getting in trouble again.
KORRY: Other instructors have been more defiant, quick to defend their teaching methods and academic freedom.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first thing I thought of when I opened the links and saw The Dirty 30 was that this is a satire, that this can't be real.
KORRY: At the top of the B.A.A.'s Dirty 30 list is Peter McLaren, a graduate-level education professor and acclaimed social scientist. He says the group's actions are beneath contempt.
Professor PETER MCLAREN (Education, UCLA): These are basically tactics that one associates with the Eastern Bloc police states. One thinks of the Gestapo or Stalin.
KORRY: Overheated rhetoric, responds alumnus Andrew Jones. He says McLaren wants to politicize an entire generation of future teachers, something he's working hard to stop. According to Jones, after students have documented abuses, his group will confront professors and demand changes. If necessary, says Jones, he'll take his fight to the people of California. Elaine Korry, NPR News.
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