UCLA alum pays students to decry professors

By offering cash to students for snitching on “radical” professors, a group of alums from the University of California, Los Angeles, are taking the conservative attack on academic freedom to a new low. Even conservative activist David Horowitz thinks “baiting” students is wrong, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.

With a proposed amendment to the students’ rights policy slated to go before the Faculty Senate tomorrow, this newest attempt to chill academic freedom is likely to have a dramatic impact on students’ rights here at CMU.

As of two weeks ago, UCLA 2003 alumnus and “Bruin Alumni Association” president Andrew Jones launched a second pet project website. His new, a site dedicated to “exposing UCLA’s most radical professors” as “proof of an increasingly radical faculty” is yet another scheme in the same vein as Horowitz’s so-called “Academic Bill of Rights.” Jones’ method? Pay current UCLA students $100 for each professor they help to defame.

It’s not a simple task: To get your Benjamin, you have to provide full lecture notes, all course materials, and full tape recordings of each class. You also have to obtain the professor’s permission to record his or her class, and a UCLA spokesperson recently said that the campus chancellor must agree as well. Not able to tape your classes? No problem: just the lecture notes and course materials will land you $50. And if you just want to whistle-blow on a “problem professor” along with course materials, you’ll walk away with $10.

Jones claims he’s not funding a witch-hunt, but you don’t need a PhD to see where this is going.

Profiles of 31 “radical” UCLA professors make up the bulk of’s content. The lengthy, poorly sourced dossiers give pejorative nicknames to professors, track the petitions they have signed, and rate them on a scale of one to five “black fists.” The profiles are outlandish, whiny rants demeaning liberal professors.

A Chronicle of Higher Education article reported that Jones once even worked for Horowitz — writing articles that still appear on his online periodical — but he was fired for pressuring students to file bogus reports on liberal professors.

The Chronicle also reported that Jones’ Bruin Alumni Association “has no connection to Students for Academic Freedom,” Horowitz’s conservative watchdog group, which has been lobbying state legislatures to fight against “liberal bias” in academia. But the two groups have something very important in common: They are both contributing to an environment where genuine initiatives to improve students’ rights are impossible.

Amending CMU’s students’ rights policy could fuel the fire of the Horowitz and Jones types; so, even if the amendment has the unanimous support of the various constituencies at CMU, it could cause much more harm than good. In past interviews with The Tartan, both university president Jared Cohon and provost Mark Kamlet have spoken out against Horowitz’s bill, citing instances where it would prevent more liberties than grant them.

In effect, activists like David Horowitz and Andrew Jones have retarded the very rights they claim to defend. More and more, it seems like their true ambition is merely to make academia a little more conservative.