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.

  • Dirk

    Apparently Professor Little does not think that claiming, as he did, that having Republican professors would diminish the quality of the faculty is evidence of extreme liberal bias. Perhaps he should tell Greg Mankiw, head of the economics department at Harvard, that Mankiw is damaging the reputation of Harvard.

    • Jordan

      Except that this wasn’t his claim. All he said was that taking party-i.d. into account as a factor in making hiring decisions could distract from relevant professional criteria, which could certainly be expected to have a negative effect on the quality of faculty. Wouldn’t you agree? Among other things this website is guilty of distorting easily verified information. The watchlist entry also claims that Little described republicans as “anti-intellectual.” A quick glance at the Sun piece which they reference, but do not link to, shows that line attributed to “some professors,” and in no way indicates that Little said this.

      • ray

        So Jordan, you are suggesting that all Little was saying is that professional criteria should be the only criteria in faculty hiring. In other words, whether the candidate is a women, black or brown person, gay or straight, old or young, liberal or conservative, etc. should not matter. Yes, I agree entirely with that. The fact that all of those factors are considered in the real world does diminish the quality of the faculty, as it also diminishes the quality of the student body.

        Your argument also fails because your extremely biased interpretation of what Little said is clearly spin. It is obvious to anyone paying attention that he was saying that having conservatives on the faculty would reduce its overall quality. He had the opportunity to argue that his statement was not meant to suggest that but chose not to.

        Professor Little and the others cited for inclusion on the watchlist are arrogant elitists. You should simply admit that.