Letters to the Editor

Syracuse University alumnus responds to professor’s placement on Professor Watchlist

Prof. Dana Cloud (Liberal Professor Watchlist raises alarm …’, Dec.6) is “shocked, shocked” at her inclusion on a new website listing professors who “discriminate against conservative students and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom.” I have no idea as to how reliable such assessments might be, but, where accurate, such behavior would certainly deserve exposure. Notwithstanding how distasteful one’s appearance on such a register might be, Cloud unreasonably turns its overseer, Matt Lamb, into a lion. Surely, those dire consequences awaiting dishonorees, of which she so darkly warns, are way overblown. For those legitimately cited, their public personas, and high profile public engagements, can hardly have been very well hidden.

Students have a right, both to have and to express, personal political opinions, without fear of incurring disfavor or reprisal from their professors. Professors have a professional obligation to honor those student rights and to eschew politicization of their classrooms. Universities need to be “marketplaces of ideas,” where all sorts of opinions can be vigorously debated, civilly, and without viewpoint discrimination.

Cloud denies all charges against her. I have no way of proving otherwise. However, she demonstrably suffers from a severe case of the “free speech for me but not for thee” syndrome. She is on record (‘SU community members outline BDS movement’s goals’, Sept. 25) as an avid supporter of the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) campaign against Israel. She specifically is in consonance with the PCABI (Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel) call for the academic boycott of Israeli universities. She was prominent among those who recently called on SU to “resist all events involving partnering with Israeli universities.” She was among those who tried to shut down the Sept. 22-24 PARCC (Program for the Advancement of Research in Conflict and Collaboration) sponsored conference ‘Transforming Intractable Conflicts: Their Restructuring and Reframing,’ because of the presence of Israeli participants.

Outside the classroom, Cloud is entitled to vigorously pursue her personal political opinions. She is not entitled, hypocritically, to deny such right to those with whom she disagrees.

Richard D. Wilkins ’58 ’61

Syracuse, NY

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