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Penn State professor is cool with Professor Watchlist: ‘How can more free speech be a threat to free speech?’

Other professor says conservative students ‘detract from the rights of others’

Mainstream media occasionally portray accurate reporting about far-left professors as a threat to academic freedom, as NPR did recently.

It specifically pointed to Turning Point USA, “an on-campus group that has been labeled ‘alt-right'” (by whom, NPR didn’t say), because it runs a website called Professor Watchlist.

The site is little more than a collection of published articles on each profiled professor, intended to share “specific incidents and names of professors that advance a radical agenda in lecture halls,” according to TPUSA.

One professor at Pennsylvania State University doesn’t have a problem with the watchlist. In fact, he’s the faculty adviser to the university’s TPUSA chapter.

Daily Collegian reports that Prof. Roger Shouse, whose specialty is education leadership, was the token faculty defender of TPUSA and its work on a panel sponsored by the American Association of University Professors, whose institutional feelings about the watchlist are … complicated:

Penn State AAUP Interim President Michelle Rodino-Colocino, a professor of feminist media studies, called for the attendees to rally against their “opponents” on the right — including Turning Point members.

Shouse (below) doesn’t see what the fuss is, as long as “critics spell check his name” on any given watchlist and it’s not run by the government:

“It’s very strange to claim a private advocacy organization that published information that is publically [sic] available is in any way a threat to anybody’s academic freedom,” Shouse said. “How can more free speech be a threat to free speech?”

In his role as a professor, he said he carefully considers whether he can justify his work in the face of hostility.

“You as a professor have the right to do what you want to do, but you better have the courage to stand up and defend it,” Shouse said. “You better have the courage to stand in front of 100 people at the high school who have expressed concern about your research.”

Matt Jordan, media studies professor, was offended that a student leaked their email conversations about Jordan’s decision to show his class “an edited montage contrasting clips of Birth of a Nation … with a documentary alleging the modern Republican Party practices voter suppression,” according to the Collegian. He said accurate reporting about what professors say in class can be “conversation enders.”

Prof. Jeanine Staples, who researches race and gender identity, said conservative students are exaggerating how much discrimination they face from faculty, and she implied it’s their own fault:

“Students who espouse views that detract from the rights of others are discriminated against in some cases,” Staples said. “I do understand the need to distance oneself from students who advocate stances which humiliate or dehumanize or perpetuate colonization among minoritized populations in our communities.”

The anti-TPUSA tilt of the panel was undercut by the Penn State chapter’s co-founder, Aidan Mattis, who said he tried and failed to get one of his own professors on the watchlist: “he lacked sufficient evidence of bias, according to the site’s moderators.”


Read the article.

MORE: More than 12,000 professors ask to be added to ‘Professor Watchlist’

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Greg Piper served as associate editor of The College Fix from 2014 to 2021.