Protecting Academic Freedom and standing beside Tobin Shearer

The UFA would like to call attention to a website that recently appeared called professorwatchlist.org, a project of Turning Point USA. It lists over 200 college professors and accuses them of advancing “leftist propaganda” and discriminating against some of their students. UM Associate Professor Tobin Shearer is named in this list. Articles expressing concern about the appearance of professorwatchlist.org as a potential threat to academic freedom have recently appeared in Inside Higher Ed as well as one from the New York Times. The links are

The website’s clear intent is to have a stigmatizing and chilling effect on open intellectual discourse and academic freedom. There are other similar efforts. A coupe of years ago Professor Shearer received hate mail, some of which contained death threats, after he was identified and “denounced” in the website campusreform.com The UFA unequivocally opposes the intimidation of our faculty and their rights, and indeed, responsibility, to foster the free teaching and exchange of ideas, regardless of beliefs or political persuasion. We wish, further, to adamantly restate our public commitment to academic freedom and remind everyone that the Collective Bargaining Agreement, in particular, protects academic freedom; see Section 6.000:

The University of Montana has a long tradition of, and a deep commitment to, academic freedom. The welfare and strength of the University and of society at large depend upon the free search for truth and its free expression. To this end, the University of Montana shall recognize and protect full freedom of inquiry, teaching, research, discussion, study, publication, and for artists, the creation and exhibition of works of art, without hindrance, restriction, equivocation, and/or board or Administration reprisal. The right of academic freedom shall be the right of every faculty member whether tenured or untenured.

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