Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Tracking Radical UCLA Faculty

A UCLA alumni group, the Bruin Alumni Association, has started an interesting project to collect information about professors who are "actively proselytizing their extreme views in the classroom, whether or not the commentary is relevant to the class topic."

The group's advisory board includes such distinguished names as Walter Williams, John Lott, and Linda Chavez.

Needless to say, this attempt to disclose what is actually going on inside UCLA lecture halls has upset some professors; one says: "Any decent American is going to see through this kind of right-wing propaganda." Another calls it a "witch hunt."

As part of an attempt to collect documentary evidence about the professors, the group is offering to pay for tapes or lecture notes, which has caused additional controversy. At least one member of the advisory board decided to resign because of disagreement with this policy.

My take is that UCLA is a taxpayer-funded university and any professor on campus, right, left, or in the middle, should be comfortable having their views publicly aired to the taxpaying public and/or to university administrators. If "documentary evidence" exists of the professors' views, the public -- and particularly prospective students -- can decide for themselves whether or not a professor is "radical." Leaving aside the issue of payment for information, about which I don't yet have an opinion, it seems to me that transparency is a good thing.

More can be found at Professor Bainbridge (scroll down).

Update: I enjoyed thoughts posted by Gina Cobb, a UCLA grad (scroll down): "What the critics of this new effort and the fans of academic freedom need to think about is what they would consider a reasonable response if a university had a large number of its professors using their courses to promote fascism, as opposed to socialism. At some point, it would be reasonable to say, 'Enough is enough. Teach what we are paying you to teach.'"


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