A website run by Turning Point USA accuses professors of spreading leftist views and discriminating against conservative students.
Six NYU faculty members have been accused of spreading left-wing propaganda and discriminating against conservative students by Professor Watchlist, a project launched in 2016 by the right-wing group Turning Point USA.
The organization, co-founded and led by Charlie Kirk, aims to promote free speech, free-market capitalism, and government limited to high school and college students to counter what the organization characterizes as the dominance of leftist political beliefs. within universities.
TPUSA’s website states that its purpose is “to expose and document college professors who discriminate against conservative students and advance left-wing propaganda in the classroom.” NYU professors on the list are Ulrich Baer, Ruth Ben-Ghiat, Amin Husain, Arthur Caplan, Mark Crispin Miller, and Frank Leon Roberts.
Kirk, a staunch right-wing advocate, started TPUSA with Bill Montgomery, who passed away in July 2020 due to complications related to COVID-19. TPUSA has hosted prominent conservative figures like Rudy Giuliani and was sponsored by right-wing organizations, including the National Rifle Association and the Heritage Foundation. The organization was accused of spreading false informationespecially in the context of its collaboration with right-wing organizations and Republican donors.
Baer, a professor of comparative literature at the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, said he was skeptical of the organization’s mission.
“I don’t think their main interest is to improve the university,” he said. “They are interested in hurting people’s careers. It is something to be taken seriously. »
Baer was added to the watchlist after posting a editorial in the New York Times titled “What the ‘Snowflakes’ Get About Free Speech.” TPUSA alleges that Baer supports the suppression of free speech on college campuses – especially conservative voices.
“They don’t know what’s going on in my class,” Baer said. “The fact that they imply that I discriminate against students, I find outrageous. It’s an incredible accusation that I don’t think anyone should make the way they do by simply advertising on the internet. I take it very, very seriously.”
Baer expressed concern about the implications of publishing his name on the site. He believes that the goals of the organization place a limit on the ability of teachers to express their opinions in their classrooms.
“They want to tell you what can be discussed, don’t they?” Baer asked. “I thought the whole point of free speech is that they mean anything can be discussed.”
Miller — a professor in the department of media, culture, and communication at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development — doesn’t fear TPUSA’s listing will impact his career. He said he didn’t take the site seriously.
Miller, however, agrees with TPUSA’s argument that universities have become too politically left-leaning. He previously created controversy in the NYU community after being accused of making comments doubting the effectiveness of masks and promoting conspiracy theories.
“Universities have become very intolerant places,” Miller said. “My conception of higher education now seems outdated. It’s supposed to be the place to discuss anything.
Several NYU students said they disagreed with TPUSA’s reasoning for featuring professors on its website. CAS freshman Río Narval said they believe students should be able to report professors who make them feel uncomfortable to TPUSA, but the organization’s website handles complaints unprofessionally. .
“This particular group is still advocating for freedom, but their freedom is conditional on you conforming to their vision,” Narval said.
Sam Husemann-Erickson, a freshman at CAS, said he isn’t convinced professors discriminate against conservative NYU students. He said students should report any incidents to the university administration instead of turning to a third-party organization like TPUSA.
“Almost all the time a student thinks they’re being politically targeted, that’s not really true,” Husemann-Erickson said. “The most likely explanation is that the professor was challenging them on their views – not to change their views, but to open their minds and better think about why they think the way they do. I saw many professors push back against the political beliefs of left-wing and right-wing students, not out of bias, but to force them to think critically.
Although Baer expressed concern about the watchlist, he discourages students and faculty who disagree with the site from directing their attention to TPUSA and its project. Instead, he urges those concerned about censorship and free speech to find different ways to respond.
“I’m not going to review what this organization does with my name on their website,” Baer said. “That’s what they want me to do. We must continue to do our job. »
Contact Tori Morales at [email protected]