Unwelcome sunshine at UCLA

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UCLA recruiters have long delighted in bringing star high school athletes to their campus during the winter months, when warm weather and sunshine prove particularly attractive to many from colder climes. But the sort of sunshine that operates as a disinfectant, public scrutiny, is proving much less welcome to campus leftists.

The Bruin Alumni Association, a year old group of conservative bent, is drawing fire for its activities aimed at exposing leftist indoctrination in the classroom. It has started  UCLAprofs.com to collect and publicize information about faculty leftism, particularly as it verges into classroom indoctrination. The Los Angeles Times reports:

A fledgling alumni group headed by a former campus Republican leader is offering students payments of up to $100 per class to provide information on instructors who are "abusive, one—sided or off—topic" in advocating political ideologies.

The year—old Bruin Alumni Assn. says its "Exposing UCLA's Radical Professors" initiative takes aim at faculty "actively proselytizing their extreme views in the classroom, whether or not the commentary is relevant to the class topic." Although the group says it is concerned about radical professors of any political stripe, it has named an initial "Dirty 30" of teachers it identifies with left—wing or liberal causes.

Some of the instructors mentioned accuse the association of conducting a witch hunt that threatens to harm the teaching atmosphere, and at least one of the group's advisory board members has resigned because he considers the bounty offers inappropriate. The university said it will warn the association that selling copies of professors' lectures would violate campus rules and raise copyright issues.

The advisory board member who resigned is Stephan Thernstrom of Harvard, formerly a UCLA professor, and a man for whom I have the greatest respect. But I am not nearly as alarmed as he and others by the $100 payment.

It is true that a bounty could induce people to make up stories. But as I understand the practice, it is to be paid for recordings and notes documenting actual classroom misbehavior. Stories told by students are not enough. Columbia University notoriously whitewashed faculty classroom abuse toward Jewish and Israeli students in part because verbal accounts given by faculty and students differed substantially.

UCLA's huffing and puffing about "selling" classroom lectures is just so much blather. Nobody is planning to sell lectures, they only plan to document abuse.

Predictably, faculty fools are already accusing the effort of "McCarthyism." The charge is so logically vacant that making it justifies suspicion about the academic qualifications of those flinging the charge. The students are not government officials threatening the use of state power. They are not utilizing guilt by association. They are merely shining sunshine on faculty behavior.

Good for them. Public university faculty in particular owe a duty of fairness. Of course, nearly all universities are substantially benefitted by public monies, so the standards should be universal. Not to mention the small weight assigned to such qualities as "integrity" and "scholarly detachment."

Thomas Lifson  1 18 06

Ed Lasky adds:

One practice that will inhibit professors' freedom to engage in inappropriate commentary during classroom time is the emerging trend of professors posting their lectures on—line. Attendance has been falling in college classrooms as absentee students choose to rely on not just the old practice of borrowing notes taken by others, but also taped classroom lectures (thank you iPod!) or the internet. Professors will be constrained to devote their time to educate students and not ad—lib propaganda.

UCLA recruiters have long delighted in bringing star high school athletes to their campus during the winter months, when warm weather and sunshine prove particularly attractive to many from colder climes. But the sort of sunshine that operates as a disinfectant, public scrutiny, is proving much less welcome to campus leftists.

The Bruin Alumni Association, a year old group of conservative bent, is drawing fire for its activities aimed at exposing leftist indoctrination in the classroom. It has started  UCLAprofs.com to collect and publicize information about faculty leftism, particularly as it verges into classroom indoctrination. The Los Angeles Times reports:

A fledgling alumni group headed by a former campus Republican leader is offering students payments of up to $100 per class to provide information on instructors who are "abusive, one—sided or off—topic" in advocating political ideologies.

The year—old Bruin Alumni Assn. says its "Exposing UCLA's Radical Professors" initiative takes aim at faculty "actively proselytizing their extreme views in the classroom, whether or not the commentary is relevant to the class topic." Although the group says it is concerned about radical professors of any political stripe, it has named an initial "Dirty 30" of teachers it identifies with left—wing or liberal causes.

Some of the instructors mentioned accuse the association of conducting a witch hunt that threatens to harm the teaching atmosphere, and at least one of the group's advisory board members has resigned because he considers the bounty offers inappropriate. The university said it will warn the association that selling copies of professors' lectures would violate campus rules and raise copyright issues.

The advisory board member who resigned is Stephan Thernstrom of Harvard, formerly a UCLA professor, and a man for whom I have the greatest respect. But I am not nearly as alarmed as he and others by the $100 payment.

It is true that a bounty could induce people to make up stories. But as I understand the practice, it is to be paid for recordings and notes documenting actual classroom misbehavior. Stories told by students are not enough. Columbia University notoriously whitewashed faculty classroom abuse toward Jewish and Israeli students in part because verbal accounts given by faculty and students differed substantially.

UCLA's huffing and puffing about "selling" classroom lectures is just so much blather. Nobody is planning to sell lectures, they only plan to document abuse.

Predictably, faculty fools are already accusing the effort of "McCarthyism." The charge is so logically vacant that making it justifies suspicion about the academic qualifications of those flinging the charge. The students are not government officials threatening the use of state power. They are not utilizing guilt by association. They are merely shining sunshine on faculty behavior.

Good for them. Public university faculty in particular owe a duty of fairness. Of course, nearly all universities are substantially benefitted by public monies, so the standards should be universal. Not to mention the small weight assigned to such qualities as "integrity" and "scholarly detachment."

Thomas Lifson  1 18 06

Ed Lasky adds:

One practice that will inhibit professors' freedom to engage in inappropriate commentary during classroom time is the emerging trend of professors posting their lectures on—line. Attendance has been falling in college classrooms as absentee students choose to rely on not just the old practice of borrowing notes taken by others, but also taped classroom lectures (thank you iPod!) or the internet. Professors will be constrained to devote their time to educate students and not ad—lib propaganda.