Turning Point USA has created a professor watch list that names professors from schools such as Harvard University, University of Arizona and University of Memphis. The watch list is designed to name professors who “discriminate against conservative students and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom.”
Not only is this list a violation of these professors’ freedoms of speech, it is predatory and threatens open discussion within academia.
Turning Point USA’s stated mission is to “identify, educate, train, and organize students to promote the principles of fiscal responsibility, free markets, and limited government.”
Because this organization obviously has a bias toward one political viewpoint, they are not protecting freedom of speech but freedom to think one specific way.
The watch list’s website says, “Students, parents, and alumni deserve to know the specific incidents and names of professors that advance a radical agenda in lecture halls.”
Radicalism can occur on both right-wing and left-wing spectrums, but this organization is only focusing on professors with liberal viewpoints.
Furthermore, a professor has the right to their personal viewpoints so long as the classroom is an environment of learning and open discussion between students and the instructor.
The website has an option to “submit a tip” on a professor. The implications of a watch list are that the specific professor should be monitored or even suspended from their jobs.
This type of surveillance will only put professors and students at odds with each other. It does not uphold freedom of speech but rather attacks professors who have the nerve to speak up about their political viewpoints, in private or in the classroom.
While professors should be held to a higher standard than most regarding their behavior, condemning them for their beliefs is extremist and intolerant.
According to The New York Times, Charlie Kirk, the founder and director of Turning Point USA, said of professors, “it’s no secret that some of America’s college professors are totally out of line.”
Kirk has written opinion articles for The Washington Times and Breitbart titled “Liberal bias starts in high school economic textbooks” and “‘Movable millennials.'”
If Kirk is entitled to his own political and social opinions, why are professors who express their views put on a ridiculous watch list? It is almost as if Kirk believes that only one viewpoint or expression is correct.
Plus, one of the most important parts of getting a college degree is to challenge your own viewpoint and biases. If all professors thought and spoke in the same manner, the world would be uniform, bland and boring.
The First Amendment is in the Constitution for a reason. Our freedoms of speech are more important than getting along or making everyone happy. If no professor in your college career has challenged your viewpoint or made you think differently on a topic, your education has failed you.