Over the past year, academic freedom has been heavily debated. Controversial speakers such as Milo Yiannopoulos, Ben Shapiro and others have gained a considerable following because of their critiques of the “overly-liberalized academia.”
With the growing tensions between universities and conservative students who do not feel represented, the Professor Watchlist site emerged.
Professor Watchlist, created in November of 2016, is a website that has over 200 professors listed for advancing “leftist propaganda in the classroom.”
The site exists to expose and document college professors who discriminate against conservative students and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom so conservative students can avoid taking their class.
It is a project of Turning Point USA-a conservative group whose mission is to “identify, train, educate and promote the fiscal responsibility, free markets, and limited government specifically with college students.”
There are currently three DePaul professors listed on the site: Valerie Johnson, Abdul Malik Ryan and Eugene Zdziarski.
On the site, each professor’s department of teaching and reasons why are listed.
Ryan is accused of “publicly criticized supporters of Israel, writing sympathetically about Islamic terrorists and for signing petitions for a terrorist conspirator.”
The site also suggests Ryan “supports the idea of a caliphate before the rise of ISIS.”
The page then provides a link to a Breitbart article that identifies him as a “radical” and displays controversial tweets from the assistant director of Religious Diversity.
One of the listed tweets says “I have bad news for all the GOPers who want to ban Muslims from entering the US… already a few million of us here… and we love to have kids.”
Another was a response made in December 2013 to controversial rap lyrics.
Ryan tweeted, “I agree a big part of what bothers me is young Muslims who have grown up with white suburban attitudes.”
Zdziarski, Vice President of Student Affairs at DePaul University is also listed on the watchlist after banning students from using chalk for political messages.
The site lists Zdziarski’s statements after pro-Trump and pro-police messages were found.
“The university has been addressing campus climate issues in an effort to provide an inclusive and supportive educational environment. In this context, many students, faculty and staff found the chalk messages offensive, hurtful and divisive.”
Johnson, an associate professor of urban politics is listed on the site for “encouraging and assisting students in disrupting a campus event featuring Milo Yiannopoulos.”
A link to a Breitbart article titled, “Meet Valerie Johnson, The Radical Professor Indoctrinating DePaul’s Black Students,” is provided.
The article describes Professor Johnson as a “Black Lives Matter activist who argues that a fully democratic society is impossible in the context of ‘white privilege.’”
Like many professors across the country, Johnson found the watchlist troubling.
“Here they’re talking about free speech, but they’re silencing me,” she said. They talk about their free speech rights, but what about mine?”
DePaul freshman Christopher Shrikian also feels the site does more harm than good.
“It hurts academic freedom because it allows students to purposely avoid professors that would challenge their set way of thinking,” he said.