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A letter to Professor Watchlist

| Thursday, December 8, 2016

Recently, an organization called Turning Point USA unveiled Professor Watchlist, a website listing the names of professors “that advance a radical agenda in lecture halls” of U.S. colleges and universities. Notre Dame professors are among those listed as advancing “leftist propaganda” in their classes. In response, a number of Notre Dame faculty sent the letter below to Professor Watchlist.

Dear Professor Watchlist,

We, the undersigned faculty at the University of Notre Dame, write to request that you place our names, all of them, on Professor Watchlist.

We make this request because we note that you currently list on your site several of our colleagues, such as Professor Gary Gutting, whose work is distinguished by its commitment to reasoned, fact-based civil discourse examining questions of tolerance, equality and justice. We further note that nearly all faculty colleagues at other institutions listed on your site, the philosophers, historians, theologians, ethicists, feminists, rhetoricians and others, have similarly devoted their professional lives to the unyielding pursuit of truth, to the critical examination of assumptions that underlie social and political policy and to honoring this country’s commitments to the premise that all people are created equal and deserving of respect.

This is the sort of company we wish to keep.

We surmise that the purpose of your list is to shame and silence faculty who espouse ideas you reject. But your list has had a different effect upon us. We are coming forward to stand with the professors you have called “dangerous,” reaffirming our values and recommitting ourselves to the work of teaching students to think clearly, independently and fearlessly.

So please add our names, the undersigned faculty at the University of Notre Dame, to the Professor Watchlist. We wish to be counted among those you are watching.


Encarnación Juárez-Almendros, Spanish

Ani Aprahamian, Physics

Francisco Aragón, Institute for Latino Studies

Doug Archer, Hesburgh Libraries

Carolina Arroyo, Political Science

Katrina Barron, Mathematics

Kevin Barry, Kaneb Center

Christine Becker, Film, Television, and Theatre

Gail Bederman, History

Patricia Blanchette, Philosophy

Susan D. Blum, Anthropology

Catherine E. Bolten, Anthropology and Peace Studies

John G. Borkowski, Psychology

Bruce Bunker, Physics

Elizabeth Capdevielle, University Writing Program

Matthew Capdevielle, University Writing Program 

Robert Randolf Coleman, Art, Art History & Design

Brian Collier, Institute for Educational Initiatives

Philippe Collon, Experimental Nuclear Physics

Michael Coppedge, Political Science

David Cortright, Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies

Mary D’Angelo, Theology

Antonio Delgado, Physics

Denise M. Della Rossa, German

Michael Detlefsen, Philosophy

Tarek R. Dika,  Program of Liberal Studies

Jane Doering, Gender Studies

Jean Dibble, Art, Art History & Design

Margaret Anne Doody, English

Kevin Dreyer, Film, Television, and Theatre

John Duffy, English

Amitava Krishna Dutt, Political Science

Stephen M. Fallon, Program of Liberal Studies and English

Stephen Fredman, English

Christopher Fox, English

Judith Fox, Law School

Mary E. Frandsen, Music

Jill Godmilow, Film Television & Theatre

Karen Graubart, History

Stuart Greene, English and Africana Studies

David Hachen, Sociology

Matthew E.K. Hall, Political Science

Darlene Hampton, First Year of Studies

Susan Harris, English

Randal Harrison, Hesburgh Library

Anne Hayner, Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies

Peter Holland, Film, Television, and Theatre

Romana Huk, English

Charlice Hurst, Mendoza College of Business

Lionel M. Jensen, East Asian Languages and Cultures

Debra Javeline, Political Science

Claire Taylor Jones, German and Russian

Michael Kackman, Film, Television, and Theatre

Asher Kaufman, History and Peace Studies

Mary Celeste Kearney, Film, Television, and Theatre; Gender Studies

Micha Kilburn, Physics

Janet Kourany, Philosophy

Thomas Kselman, History

Greg Kucich, English

Rev. Donald G. LaSalle, Jr., First Year of Studies

Daniel Lapsley, Psychology

Erin Moira Lemrow, Institute for Latino Studies

Neil Lobo, Biological Sciences,

George Lopez, Peace Studies

Cecilia Lucero, First Year of Studies

Collette Mak, Hesburgh Library

Julia Marvin, Program of Liberal Studies

Maria McKenna, Institute for Educational Initiatives and Africana Studies

Sarah McKibben, Irish Language and Literature

Erin McLaughlin, University Writing Progra,

Joyelle McSweeney, English

Stephen Miller, Music

Ann Mische, Sociology and Peace Studies

Leslie L. Morgan, Hesbuirgh Library

Brian Ó Conchubhair, Irish Language and Literature

Lisa Joy Oglesbee, Center for the Study of Languages and Cultures

Kathleen Opel, Notre Dame International

Jessica Payne, Psychology

Catherine Perry, Romance Languages and Literatures

Dianne Pinderhughes, Political Science

Pierpaolo Polzonetti, Program in Liberal Studies and Sacred Music

Margaret Porter, Hesburgh Library

Clark Power, Program of Liberal Studies

Ava Preacher, College of Arts and Letters

William Purcell, Center for Social Concerns

Benjamin Radcliff, Political Science

Steve Reifenberg, Kellogg Institute for International Studies

Karen Richman, Institute for Latino Studies

Charles Rosenberg, Art, Art History & Design

Deborah Rotman, Anthropology

David F. Ruccio, Arts and Letters

Valerie Sayers, English

Catherine Schlegel, Classics

Roy Scranton, English

Susan Sharpe, Center for Social Concerns

Kristin Shrader-Frechette, Biological Sciences and Philosophy

John Sitter, English

Cheri Smith, Hesburgh Library

Donald Sniegowski, English (professor emeritus)

Thomas A. Stapleford, Program of Liberal Studies

James Sterba, Philosophy

Susan St. Ville, Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies

Maria Tomasula, Art, Art History & Design

Steve Tomasula, English

Ernesto Verdeja, Political Science

Henry Weinfield, Program of Liberal Studies and English

John Welle, Italian

Michael Wiescher, Physics

Pamela Wojcik, Film, Television, and Theatre

Christina Wolbrecht, Political Science

Martin Wolfson, Professor of Economics Emeritus

Danielle Wood, Center for Social Concerns

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About Letter to the Editor

Letters to the Editor can be submitted by all members of the Notre Dame community. To submit a letter to the Viewpoint Editor, email viewpoint@ndsmcobserver.com

Contact Letter
  • i_enjoy_tacos

    This is beautiful.

  • Infoczar✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ ᵈᵉᵖˡᵒʳᵃᵇˡᵉ

    So they are admitting to intending to indoctrinate students into radical left ideology? This isn’t something to be proud of and is clearly not academic freedom nor quality education by any measure. Far left ideology is actually the opposite of an open educated mind. Its current goal is totalitarianism. There are some of us left in some disciplines who believe in actually teaching and we include competing ideas instead of just those approved of by the far left. Shame on these poor educators. They better hope I’m not one of their accreditation review evaluators.

    • i_enjoy_tacos

      You seem like a perfectly rational individual with a firm grasp of reality. If there’s one thing that history has taught us it’s that the best way to encourage academic freedom is to create an academic watch list. Otherwise how will we be sure they’re thinking as we want them to think?

      You had better watch out, you dangerous professors! This guy might actually be one of your accreditation review evaluators and not just some pimply kid sitting in his mom’s basement clutching a tear-streaked copy of Atlas Shrugged!

      • Infoczar✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ ᵈᵉᵖˡᵒʳᵃᵇˡᵉ

        I’m sorry for you that ideas other than your own scare you so much. Education is about much more than your comfortable safe space but feel free to be a powerless bigot I choose a life rich with ideas.

        • i_enjoy_tacos

          I don’t follow. Why the hostility?

          I agree with you that the best way to promote academic freedom is by watching professors to make sure they don’t stray into areas of thought that we don’t agree with. Such an approach clearly shows strength and conviction in thought, not a fear of others.

          I also agree with you that anonymous threats on the internet – like yours about threatening these professors’ accreditation – is a solid way to ensure these professors think freely. Intimidation and bullying are important bedfellows in any free society.

          So what’s the problem?

          I suppose the only areas where we might have disagreement is on the appropriate use of punctuation and usage of run-on sentences. I think punctuation is important. From your usage it appears that maybe you don’t. Is that it? Is that the reason for the hostility?

          • Infoczar✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ ᵈᵉᵖˡᵒʳᵃᵇˡᵉ

            “I don’t follow. Why the hostility?” My thoughts exactly. You might want to practice some self examination.

            I didn’t “threaten these professors’ accreditation” ha ha ha ha – Professors aren’t accredited you moon-bat. I would review their programs to make sure that their intentions to limit the quality of instruction they are providing their students is not manifest in their programs. That would be a serious problem and likely IS a problem if they feel the need to publicly make an agitprop statement like this. Their statement is based on a biased reading of the intentions of the organization recognizing them but I think you knew that. However you twist it to confirm your bias, this does not support that they have their student’s best interests at heart. It is without question a disingenuous and hypocritical action. Also, it makes them look like the rest of you melting snowflakes since the election – very unprofessional. Far left totalitarianism is not a worthy goal. Hope you find a taco soon you are pretty sad and hangry.

          • i_enjoy_tacos

            So it was my misunderstanding of your threat that’s the source of the hostility? Well, then. That makes more sense! Thanks for clearing it up! To be honest, I’m really embarrassed by this mistake because it definitely is material to my – our? – larger point about the importance of threats and bullying to the encouragement free thinking in academia.

            I really am glad we’ve got the full scope of your threat cleared-up, too! Thanks! These dangerous professors will now have less of an excuse if their thinking leaves the approved free thinking zone and enters the realm of bigots. You and I both know that bigots tend to lurk in these unproved thinking zones, don’t we. These dangerous professors will eventually learn, too – or we’ll make them!

            Lastly, sorry to be a bother, but can you clear up one more question for me? Why do you think I’m hangry?

          • Infoczar✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ ᵈᵉᵖˡᵒʳᵃᵇˡᵉ

            You come across angry because you have an endless list of grievances. Hmm . . . maybe you are not hangry . . . maybe it is just your normal outlook? You really don’t think you are dripping with hostility? . . . Really? . . . Really, really? ha ha ha

            You have an interesting definition of “free thinking”. It means only what YOU think. You post like a social just-us warrior. What a rube. Maybe you can “think” through why you are powerless as of the election? ha ha ha ha

            Oh yeah, I forgot – you think you have “power” because you are going to secede. But you better watch out in your brave new world for those run on sentences and punctuation “errors”! Especially in the internet comment sections it might mean the end of “free-thinking”. There isn’t enough soma you can take to overcome those “feels”.

            Hey! Terrifying news!! I just wrote a blog on a random website exposing hate in some classrooms – you better get all the faculty to join hands and shut me down! Send the thugs – ideas you don’t agree with can NOT stand!!


          • i_enjoy_tacos

            First off, congrats on getting published! That’s wonderful. I bet it’s on a well-respected forum where all kinds of people with different views post. Can you please share it? I’d love to read.

            Beyond that, I don’t know about you, but I certainly am glad this conversation changed from a discussion of the importance of correct academic free thinking to one personal attacks. Gosh, I was waiting for that to happen! This is great!

            And now that we’ve established that this is the proper line of discourse, there’s some personal attacks I’d like to make!

            Watch out! Here I go!!!

          • Infoczar✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ ᵈᵉᵖˡᵒʳᵃᵇˡᵉ

            Wow – I bet you are hot stuff with a hat pin but . . . really . . . peevish old lady is just as sad as social just-us.

            BTW – The topic is still relevant. You and your heroes are so terrified of a random website exposing their friends hate that you want to bring the full weight of your totalitarian views down on them. Too bad, free thinking is winning the day. Check the news cycle – your day in the sun of using ridicule to repress ideas has come to a sad end.

            You have yet to make a personal attack on me – right? – I commend your restraint. lol It is on the same level as your understanding of open inquiry.


          • i_enjoy_tacos

            So does this mean you’re not going to share your blog post?

          • Infoczar✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ ᵈᵉᵖˡᵒʳᵃᵇˡᵉ

            Blog!? You won’t melt fast enough snowflake – I’m commissioning an entire universe and I’m going to call it reality. Welcome to it.

          • i_enjoy_tacos

            What?!?! You know how to commission an entire universe?!?!?!?! That’s amazing! Why didn’t you mention this before? This is a game changer.

            I bet with these special powers and your blog posts we can once and for all force dangerous academics to not think the wrong kind of free. Truly the best way to prevent totalitarianism is by ensuring academics think only the right kind of way – our definition of free!

            And here I thought we were just going to start with a watch list. This is big news. I’m excited.

            Nevertheless, I’d love to read this blog post of yours. Please share.

          • Infoczar✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ ᵈᵉᵖˡᵒʳᵃᵇˡᵉ

            You HAVE read my “blog post”, you are just too thick to grasp it. You think censoring open inquiry is “free-thinking”. Great effort at newspeak though! You are clearly unteachable but I’ll try again – because this is a teachable moment – putting all your weight behind an intolerant totalitarian attempt to only allow your own base ideology is not nor ever will be “free-thinking”. Back off forcing your poorly thought out ideology on everyone else (including legal and harmless associations like the one you are attacking) and you will be living up to the value you espouse (as opposed to being an OBVIOUS blithering hypocrite).

            I believe a seed has been planted. Let it grow! You don’t have to continue to choose ignorance.


          • i_enjoy_tacos

            I’ve already read your blog post? You mean your comment here? Ahh! My bad! No sarcasm here – I didn’t know you meant the comments on this forum here were your blog posts. That’s typically not what I call a blog post. I’d typically call what you did a comment in a comment section, and I’d call a “blog post” a post on a blog. I guess I’m pretty dense. But, potato/potato(e) – who cares. Now we understand each other. I get it! Thanks! Though I am bummed you don’t have outside blog posts somewhere. That would have been swell.

            And I think I understand your other underlying point, now, too! I shouldn’t put my weight behind an attempt to not bully people into thinking the way I think because that leads to totalitarianism. Instead, I should put my weight behind watch lists containing professors with thinking I disapprove of, and attempt to bully them to not think that unapproved-of way. That is a better way to steer clear of totalitarianism.


          • OGSwaggerDick

            Wow great trolling all around. No progress at a discussion just berating opposing ideas at each other. This is master level stuff guys. OGSwaggerDick approves.

          • Infoczar✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ ᵈᵉᵖˡᵒʳᵃᵇˡᵉ

            Red alert! red alert! All snowflakes begin melting immediately! An unknown and unimportant website has discovered there are “academics” who reject the idea that some people think the sky is blue. They have decided to out them as the loons they are! All snowflakes better get together and quash that organization’s ability to get the word out! It is NOT ok to shine light on reality. Melt snowflakes melt! Your false construct is in danger and your cognitive dissonance is on shaky ground. Don’t worry though – tacos will save you with her inability to grasp even the most basic principles of logic. Ignorance is bliss.


          • i_enjoy_tacos

            I’ve already read your blog post? You mean your comment here? Ahh! My bad! No sarcasm here – I didn’t know you meant the comments on this forum here were your blog posts. That’s typically not what I call a blog post. I’d typically call what you did a comment in a comment section, and I’d call a “blog post” a post on a blog. I guess I’m pretty dense. But, potato/potato(e) – who cares. Now we understand each other. I get it! Thanks! Though I am bummed you don’t have outside blog posts somewhere. That would have been swell.

            And I think I understand your other underlying point, now, too! I shouldn’t put my weight behind an attempt to not bully people into thinking the way I think because that leads to totalitarianism. Instead, I should put my weight behind watch lists containing professors with thinking I disapprove of, and attempt to bully them to not think that unapproved-of way. That is a better way to steer clear of totalitarianism.

            I think the nuance I’ve been missing is that it’s me who disapproves of this thinking; I’m the one who thinks it’s dangerous. And because I think this line of thinking is dangerous, I had better bully before it’s too late!


    • João Pedro Santos

      Are you that “triggered” because a group of Notre Dame faculty wants to help the Professor Watchlist website in its job? You should be more thankful to them. Professor Watchlist was doing a terrible job in finding professors whose ideology you don’t agree with. And that transmits the (wrong) idea that American universities are conservative echo chambers.

      • Infoczar✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ ᵈᵉᵖˡᵒʳᵃᵇˡᵉ

        Ideology I don’t agree with? Care to try again? “Triggered” is a snowflake term – it isn’t used in actual higher education. What a rube. ha ha

  • NDaniels
  • NDaniels

    Since it is true that all persons have the inherent Right to come to know, Love, and serve The True God in this life, so that Hopefully, we can be with God and our beloved forever, in Heaven, and thus we can know through both Faith and reason, that error has no rights, may I suggest this book instead, since every lost gospel, is still in essence, a false gospel?


    “As we all know and as many of our well-established textbooks have argued for decades, the Inquisition was one of the most frightening and bloody chapters in Western history, Pope Pius XII was anti-Semitic and rightfully called “Hitler’s Pope,” the Dark Ages were a stunting of the progress of knowledge to be redeemed only by the secular spirit of the Enlightenment, and the religious Crusades were an early example of the rapacious Western thirst for riches and power. But what if these long-held beliefs were all wrong? In this stunning, powerful, and ultimately persuasive book, Rodney Stark, one of the most highly regarded sociologists of religion and the bestselling author of The Rise of Christianity, argues that some of our most firmly held ideas about history, ideas that paint the Catholic Church in the least positive light are, in fact, fiction. Why have we held these wrongheaded ideas so strongly and for so long? And if our beliefs are wrong, what, in fact, is the truth? In each chapter, Stark takes on a well-established anti-Catholic myth, gives a fascinating history of how each myth became the conventional wisdom, and presents a startling picture of the real truth.”