The conservative organization Turning Point USA named two Temple professors — along with about 200 others across the country — on a “Professor Watchlist” last month.
Political science professor Joseph Schwartz and higher education professor Sara Goldrick-Rab were named to the list for separate incidents that received media attention.
On its website, TPUSA said it believes “students, parents and alumni deserve to know the specific incidents and names of professors that advance a radical agenda in lecture halls.”
The watchlist featured Schwartz on its homepage after a 2013 incident at a Temple College Republicans event with a representative from the Pennsylvania Right to Work Defense and Education Foundation. When the representative declined to answer questions from a Democratic Socialist student in attendance, Schwartz yelled at the representative and said, “Oh come on, f—ing a–. I believe in the religion of foul language.”
Schwartz, who later apologized to the College Republicans, was featured in a Fox News opinion piece — which is how TPUSA found and decided to include him on the list.
Matt Lamb, TPUSA’s director of Constitutional Enforcement and Transparency, said TPUSA members feel Schwartz would be unable to teach a labor policy class neutrally, which is why he was named on the list.
Goldrick-Rab is listed on the site for a 2015 tweet, in which she wrote there were many similarities between Adolf Hitler and Scott Walker, the Republican governor of Wisconsin.
Goldrick-Rab said for her, the list is nothing new.
“People often try to shame others whom they disagree with,” she wrote in an email. “What’s happened here is that [they’re] putting me on a list of those whose ideas they don’t like, as a way of trying to silence my work.”
Schwartz said although he is a Democrat, he encourages students to challenge his views.
“I not only encourage, I very actively promote that conservative students or students who disagree with me try their arguments,” he said. “A lot of students would say that I’m much more rewarding of and excited about smart students who make rigorous arguments, who disagree with me, than I am of students who make lazy arguments and don’t really do the readings and think that if they write what I say in class, I’ll be pleased. I’m not.”
Since the list was posted last month, Lamb has collected submissions through his site’s “Submit a Tip” form about other professors whom his readership deems “radical.” But he said he hasn’t received submissions about any other Temple professors.
Gregory Anderson, the dean of the College of Education, said he is “disheartened” by the watchlist.
“There’s a chilling effect in terms of inquiry and freedom of expression and speech,” he said. “And these are essential principles and goals in a democracy. It concerns me these kinds of lists exist in … the United States.”
Anderson added that he thinks the list is ironic.
“Under the guise of freedom of speech, if you have a particular perspective, [TPUSA] would like you to have less freedom of speech,” he said. “My concern about the list is that it presupposes that if you have a particular political view that somehow in class, [a professor] can’t teach students different views than their own.”
He added that he has never seen a teacher at Temple who was unable to teach students with different political views.
Lamb said professors teach students to ignore conservative opinions, like the support of gun rights or opposition to abortion. He said that those views have been labeled “racist, sexist, homophobic, misogynistic, whatever the buzzword of the week.”
But Schwartz said he is committed to civil and political liberties.
“Conservative students should feel comfortable defending their views and expressing their views in classrooms and on college campuses,” he said.
Gillian McGoldrick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @gill_mcgoldrick.