Professor Watchlist: HxA Statement Counterpoint by Robert Mather
We at Heterodox Academy believe viewpoint diversity is vital to the academy and we support reasoned debate, discussion and engagement of different perspectives. So, when we saw that HXA member Robert Mather of the University of Central Oklahoma had published a response to the Professor Watchlist in Psychology Today that offered an alternative view of our statement, we wanted to feature his take and encourage your response.
From his article:
The Executive Team of the Heterodox Academy (2016) condemned the Professor Watchlist in a statement. Laudable, but this is an example of being out of touch with conservative students and faculty. Conservative students and faculty have been marginalized in the ivory tower. I agree with the Heterodox Academy that such a watchlist does not facilitate collegial discourse. Indeed, this watchlist is a response to events such as the bias response teams and trigger warnings that have covered many campuses and predominantly silenced conservative but not liberal discourse. For conservative students, speaking in class already registers you on the informal watchlist in the predominantly liberal academy. For conservative professors, offering their perspective does the same. The idea of a watchlist is similar to the informal blacklisting that occurs for conservative faculty. While there may be unpleasant implications of a Professor Watchlist for liberal professors who stifle viewpoint diversity, free speech is a double edged sword and conservative professors have felt the sharp edge of blacklisted ideology for many years. Shields and Dunn (2016) described this in detail in Passing on the Right: Conservative Professors in the Progressive University. Note that in their extensive study of conservative faculty, anonymity was the only way to get participants because of the ramifications of being a public conservative professor in academia.
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