Academic witch-hunt

Prof. Danny Solórzano and I Wednesday’s most emailed story on the Times website is about a group, the Bruin Alumni Association, I wish wasn’t getting so much press. I know that’s exactly what the founder and current president of the organization, Andrew Jones, wants because it will probably get him more funding and inspire others.

(In case you’re confused, this organization is not affiliated with the university nor is it the official alumni association. The official alumni association will probably want to distance themselves as far as possible from Jones and the BAA.)

Honestly, I wasn’t surprised when I got the email from my classmate. Yeah, I had this weird highly disturbed and amused feeling, but I expected something like this from an organization headed by a fellow alumnus I couldn’t stand when I was a student (he was a student from 1999-2003). I’m sure he really didn’t like me either, even if we didn’t know each other personally. Jones gives Republicans a worse name than HP.

The email announcement linked to a list of profiled professors on the website in disciplines such as sociology, political science, law, English, Chicana/o Studies, African American Studies, education, and women’s studies. There’s also a list of the “dirty thirty” (with two spots missing) of professors the organization finds most problematic for reasons detailed in the profiles. Some of those reasons include being against the Iraq war or the Bush regime, use of race and ethnicity in their scholarship or pro affirmative action views. Oh the horror. I’ve been reading right-wing articles by Jones since I was sophomore so I wasn’t surprised by his rhetoric or the faculty he was targeting.

What got to me the most was the fact that the organization is targeting professors for additional information to advance their cause of exposing supposedly “abusive, one-sided or off-topic” professors. The list of 23 faculty members is no longer on the website (I have it in my email in case any one wants to see who they’re targeting). The organization offers to pay students for materials from past or ongoing classes with profiled or targeted professors. Below is the scale as copied and pasted in an email sent out 1/12/06 (I think it was removed but you can probably find it via the Google cache).

* Full, detailed lecture notes, all professor-distributed materials, and full tape recordings of every class session, for one class: $100

(Note: lecture notes must make particular note of audience reactions, comments, and other details that will properly contextualize the professor’s ideological comments. If the class in question is ongoing or upcoming, will provide (if needed) all necessary taping equipment and materials.)

* Full, detailed lecture notes and all professor-distributed materials, for one class: $50

(Advisory: without tape recordings, detailed note-taking is crucial. Particular care must be taken in transcribing the professor’s non-pertinent ideological comments as closely as possible to direct quotes.)

* Advisory and all professor-distributed materials: $10

Even if you didn’t take detailed notes or attend class regularly, you can still help by alerting us to a problem professor not already in our database or target list (below). This is a particularly attractive option for students wanting to report past classes in which their notes and attendance did not match’s high record-keeping standards. Simply provide us the name, your notes from the class (or substitute your current recollections), and any other materials you still retain, and we’ll pay you $10 for the tip.

NOTE: The foregoing advertised rates for future, ongoing or past classes are contingent upon Bruin Alumni Association approval of both the particular professor, and student materials. For ongoing classes, payment will be tendered only upon timely delivery of all needed material.

By my calculations, I could illegally and unethically make at least $200. From my time at UCLA since 1998, I have taken or am taking classes with 8 of the listed professors and I still have my notebooks, syllabi and assignments from those classes (I’m bad about throwing things away). I was a Chicana/o Studies and Sociology double major. I’m currently in education. By my assumptions, Jones would love to see most of the faculty in those three departments — or the department itself — disappear.

From communications I’ve received today, university counsel is advising targeted/profiled professors to tell their students that providing the requested materials without faculty permission is in violation of university policy (ownership of course materials, use of recordings of course presentations pdf). In most cases, “faculty retain the copyright to their course materials, and both their prepared course materials and any notes or other recordings of lectures can only be disseminated with the permission of the instructor and the Chancellor.”

I jokingly forwarded the email to friends who are currently taking classes with some of the targeted or “dirty thirty” professors and asked if they wanted to make $100. Many of them are taking classes with a higher ed professor on the list. I wonder if Jones can do anything about the reading list of 28 books for one class and 14 books for the other (in a ten week course!). Other higher education faculty I’ve spoken to joke that their egos are a little bruised that they’re not on the list and hope to be numbers 29 and 30 on the “dirty thirty” list. My advisor thinks she’s still under the radar since she’s been at UCLA less than two years. Some fellow students have remarked that while looking over the professor profiles they thought, “oh, why is that a problem exactly? It seems like a good thing that professor X does research on Y.” Lastly, I heard one classmate say, “hey, now I know more faculty members I can take classes with!”

I want this man's job I won’t be going through my old course notes and gathering materials from classes I took as early as last quarter and as long ago as fall of 1998. I’ll pass on the $200 I could have earned by selling out. Sure, I could have used the money to buy new shoes or pay for books assigned for courses with “radical professors,” but I’d rather not spy on some of my favorite and most-respected professors, advisors, and potential dissertation committee members.

Plus, I’m pretty sure it’s bad etiquette to spy on a professor (see left) who wrote me a fabulous letter of recommendation, was a pseudo faculty mentor, and has helped me get to where I am today by being supportive, fair, open and inspiring.

If you haven’t gotten enough of this…

I’d link to the actual UCLA Profs (dot com) site, but I don’t really feel like it. You can find a direct link through any of those other links.


9 thoughts on “Academic witch-hunt

  1. My wife’s uncle is on that list. He is probably proud of it (although perhaps disappointed that he only got three fight the power fists out of five).

    As potential future UCLA people (we have a couple of applications floating around the campus), we were a bit disturbed by the news, though. It reminds me of the East German Stasi, but with corporate money rather than the government running the affair.

  2. gracias cindylu for talking about this issue. i haven’t had time to really look at it, but it sounds like the same shit we have been getting from conservatives since the development of ethnic studies and women’s studies. to be honest, i would be worry if we didn’t get any crticism.
    hey, can you send me the professors list. please.


  3. Hi Cindy Lu – Just goes to show that education and la educacion are not the same thing. Mr. Jones may have an education, pero no es bien educado! And to compound the ironies, how sad that he uses his rights to free speech to slander others and threaten their rights to opinion and speech that differ from his own.

  4. I just heard about this on Democracy Now! and was sure you had already written about it. Well done, much more informative. DN! made it sound like the official alumni association which made no sense to me at all.

  5. I am in the processing of getting ready for a bachelors party in Vegas, but since I am an ardent conservative, I thought I’d make time to chime in.

    I don’t know anything about this Andrew Jones guy or his organization, but I did a quick search through your links and google and found this:

    The group’s recent campaign has upset a number of targeted professors and triggered the resignation last weekend of Harvard historian Stephan Thernstrom, a prominent affirmative action opponent and former UCLA professor, from the advisory board for Jones’ organization.

    Thernstrom said he joined the alumni group’s more than 20-member advisory board last year because he believed it “had a legitimate objective of combating the extraordinary politicization of the faculty on elite campuses today.”

    Still, Thernstrom said, “I felt it was extremely unwise, one, to put out a list of targets of investigation and to agree to pay students to provide information about what was going on in the classroom of those students. That just seems to me way too intrusive. It seems to me a kind of vigilantism that I very much object to.”

    Thernstrom is highly respected in conservative circles (he an his wife are the authors of this book on education, a book specifically dedicated to improving minority public education) and if he is resigning from the group, than I get the feeling that this group is a bunch of wackos and nuts and they don’t represent true conservativism.

    But again, I say this knowing nothing more about the group than what you wrote above and the lil searching I did.

    Okay, now back to my bachelors party preparation…:-)

  6. Xoloitzquintle,
    A professor in my program said he emailed Jones with a request to be added to the list. He says he doesn’t mind being known as “radical” and I’m sure he’d be disappointed if he only got 3 fists too.

    Yeah, it’s no surprise to me that there are so many Chicana/o Studies, a few African American Studies and Women’s Studies professors on there. It bothers me, of course, but why should it really matter to this guy whether I do want to study something non-traditional. Who is he to judge?

    I bet you could make some money too.

    Free speech is definitely something that’s come up a lot in discussions about this. I never liked the guy and found lots of his columns offensive. It really turned me off how he could tell a whole group of people (Chicanos, Arabs, Asians) what he thought they should do and believe.

    I don’t doubt it.

    I’m a board member of the official organization. They’ve already put up a little statement affirming the university’s position and their own as non-partisan and definitely unaffiliated with this organization that claims ONE member. Technically, that would be Bruin Alumnus Assocation…

    Dude, I know that. In fact I’ve seen you recommend Thernstrom’s and his wife’s recent book. You seem to do it every chance you get. A couple other people have already resigned from the board over this as well. You should look at their board of directors. I’m sure you’d see a lot of people you admire or agree with. Hell, you’d probably like the fact that this guy wants to get rid of ethnic studies, he doesn’t like feminists, he thinks anti-capitalists professors are radical, and he doesn’t seem to like social scientists in sociology, education and political science much. I know your feelings on that already, so he doesn’t seem too out of the “true conservatism” mainstream you say. Oh yeah, can you say anti-intellectual. Now, I know you’ve made me read something from a Townhall column before on that.

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