Last week, a nonprofit organization called Turning Point USA launched Professor Watchlist, a website that lists the names, schools, offenses, and sometimes photos of left-leaning academics thought to discriminate against their more conservative students. The watchlist’s mission, according to the website, is to “expose and document college professors who discriminate against conservative students and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom.” There is a user submission feature that allows visitors to submit the names and information of professors who “discriminate against conservative students and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom.”
The New York Times today wrote that the site is seen as a “threat to academic freedom.” And while Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk, a rising star in conservative politics, denied trying to ride the newfound popularity of the alt-right in the wake of Donald Trump’s election, it’s hard not to be concerned about the implications of such a site. When interviewed by Slate, Kirk called the whole matter a coincidence and denounced any affiliation to the alt-right, reiterating his group’s mainstream conservative bent. However, with the definition of mainstream conservatism changing every day, timing and context are everything. It’s hard not to feel as though Professor Watchlist is a one-stop shop for those with less innocent intentions, potentially threatening the ideas of free speech it seeks to protect.