July 26, 2017

Professors in the Political Cross Hairs

In an era of deeply partisan media and social-media sharing, professors are being watched more closely than ever before — and brought to account for things they said and things they did not say.

A network of media outlets collects professors’ Facebook posts, opinion essays, and classroom comments, scouring for missteps or provocative phrasings, and amplifies them until they have become national news. In many cases, the result is opprobrium from outsiders and alumni, a faculty member's inbox filled with vituperation, or even threats of violence against an individual or a campus.

Here is a collection of Chronicle articles documenting the impact of web-driven political outrage on the lives of professors.

Through her “Academic Freedom Syllabus,” Rebecca G. Martinez, an assistant professor at the University of Missouri at Columbia, hopes officials will be less likely to condemn instructors who are targets of digital anger.

A black philosopher at Texas A&M thought forcing a public discussion about race and violence was his job. Turns out people didn’t want to hear it.

In an interactive table, see how news about his statements on racial violence coursed through partisan and nonpartisan media.

Two online publications, Campus Reform and The College Fix, have found ways to make conservative anger at colleges go viral.

Faculty members are facing not just online backlash but also threats of violence as a result of how conservative media characterize their views.

Three professors made provocative statements about race and politics. Then the outrage machine went to work.

This year has seen a rash of free-speech controversies involving faculty members. In many cases, their college or university criticized them. The Chronicle has been tracking such incidents. Here’s another example.

Trinity College, in Connecticut, had no warning that it would suddenly become a focus for threats. But it had a plan for quickly convening campus officials to assess and respond to the situation.

In a time when scholars’ comments can bring them under intense scrutiny, professors contemplate ways to actively support their colleagues.

Since writing an essay analyzing the history of ancient statues, and why they are now mostly white, a University of Iowa professor has received insults and threats.

Areej Zufari says she gave a failing grade to a troublesome student; he told the media he was unfairly singled out for his Christianity. The professor talks about the digital pillorying that came next.