Trabuco Hills High School

The controversy of Professor Watchlist

A product of Turning Point USA, professorwatchlist.org, has recently surfaced as a website database of more than 200 professors at universities all across America. The watchlist targets those who “discriminate against conservative students and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom.”

Turning Point USA claims that the site only publishes accusations that have been previously reported, stating, “This website is an aggregated list of pre-existing news stories that were published by a variety of news organizations throughout the past few years.”

This conservative organization is made up of youthful college students, and supposedly the watchlist will contribute to “continue to fight for free speech and the right for professors to say whatever they wish; however students, parents, and alumni deserve to know the specific incidents and names of professors that advance a radical agenda in lecture halls.”

Once clicking on the “Watch List Directory,” hundreds of professors can be searched by school or name. George Yancy, a professor of Philosophy at Emory University, who is mentioned on this watchlist, recently published an article in the New York Times titled “I am a Dangerous Professor.”

In his intelligent and brave piece, Dr. Yancy provokes an extremely valid point, “If we are not careful, a watchlist like this can have the impact of the philosopher Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon – a theoretical prison designed to create a form of self-censorship among those imprisoned. The list is not simply designed to get others to spy on us, to out us, but to install forms of psychological self-policing to eliminate thoughts, pedagogical approaches and theoretical orientations that it defines as subversive.”

Professor Watchlist undoubtedly has the potential to be rather dangerous, especially in today’s America. For young and aspiring collegiate students, such as myself, this watchlist is horrifically troubling.

When students walk into a college classroom, they should not need to worry about what their professor knows he or she cannot say. Freedom of speech is concretely protected by the First Amendment, and every college professor deserves the chance to teach their beliefs.

The watchlist is aiming to implant fear into the minds of professors at universities across this country, in an effort to hinder the limits of what can be taught. Trying to influence professors directly effects what is absorbed by the younger generation while in the classroom, as well as what is then applied to the rest of society.

Furthermore, the Professor Watchlist has only added to preexisting tensions that exist in this country today. America is extremely divided on an abundance of issues and is at a clear turning point.

Our country should not and cannot be further split by controversial headlines, such as a watchlist targeting professors. Right now more than ever, America must come together and unite as one.

The United States of America cannot continually afford to be torn apart by hateful accusations and reports, such as those evident within the Professor Watchlist.

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