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November 30, 2016

Watchlist Professors Defend ‘Radical Agendas’

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Several faculty members fired back this week after being accused of discriminating against conservative students by a new website called Professor Watchlist, which claims over 200 professors, including three at Cornell, supposedly “advance a radical agenda in the lecture halls.”

Prof. Emeritus Kenneth McClane, English, who was named for criticizing the Republican Party’s “anti-scientific rhetoric” around climate change, was unapologetic about his comments and reaffirmed the reality of climate change.

“If that is radical thinking, it certainly is not among most educational communities,” he said. “If listing others and me is an attempt at silencing me, it will not work. And given that I taught people to write poems and stories, my politics rarely was in evidence [in class].”

McClane added that the website is an attempt at bullying, but one that will not make him change his beliefs.

“I’ll say it again: ‘Global warming is real,’” he said.

Prof. Andrew Little, government, who is also named on the site, said that although being listed is somewhat annoying, concerns over the website “might be overblown.”

“I certainly don’t aim to promote any particular political viewpoint in my classes and am eager to teach students of any ideology,” Little said. “I hope that conservative students don’t avoid taking my classes or trying to work with me on this basis.”

Although some have called the watchlist a threat to freedom of speech on campus, Interim Chair of the Government Department Nicholas van de Walle said the site is “too amateurish to really constitute a threat to academic freedom.”

“Still, I think [the site] is profoundly anti-intellectual and petty, in its unfortunate combination of intellectual confusion — expressing political views does not constitute propaganda — and mean-spiritedness,” he said.

Prof. Sara Pritchard, science and technology studies, who was also named on the list, did not respond to a request for comment.