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Professor Watchlist alerts students of ‘radical’ instructors

Think your college student might be learning things in school you don’t exactly support?

A new website has decided to keep an eye out for “radical” instructors for you.

The Professor Watchlist was created by Turning Point USA, the 4-year-old nonprofit brainchild of Charlie Kirk, 23, a young man who stood on the big stage at the Republican National Convention in July.

Turning Point USA’s objective is “to identify, educate, train and organize students to promote the principles of fiscal responsibility, free markets and limited government.” The website touts a presence in more than 1,000 college and high schools.

It has now branched out with the Professor Watchlist, an aggregated list of educators and a place to submit tips.

“TPUSA will continue to fight for free speech and the right for​​ professors to say whatever they wish​;​ however students, parents and alumni deserve to know the specific incidents and names of professors that advance a radical agenda in lecture halls,” the Professor Watchlist’s homepage reads.

And Penn State is represented.

Peter Hatemi is a professor of political science at the university, plus microbiology and biochemistry. His biography points to research on “differences in preferences, decision-making and social behaviors on a wide range of topics, including: political behaviors and attitudes, addiction, political violence and terrorism, public health, gender identification, religion, mate selection and the nature of interpersonal relationships.”

The Professor Watchlist included Hatemi based on a 2012 paper he co-authored, “Correlation not Causation: The Relationship between Personality Traits and Political Ideologies.” It was called out in June by a libertarian magazine and a conservative website.

Hatemi’s paper suggested some people could have a genetic draw to a particular political affiliation.

Penn State stood behind its educator’s ability to teach.

“As a foundational element within higher education, academic freedom is meant to create an environment in which learning and research can flourish without fear of retribution,” said spokeswoman Lisa Powers. “Penn State supports the tenet of academic freedom, and promotes an atmosphere where uncomfortable and complex topics can be explored with mutual respect.”

However the university also recognized the right of dissenters to feel comfortable in their school, as well.

“In accordance with Penn State’s policy on academic freedom (HR64), which has been in place since 1950, faculty members should not be claiming the privilege of academic freedom if they are discussing in the classroom controversial topics outside of or unrelated to his/her field of study,” Powers said.

In the days after Republican Donald Trump’s presidential victory, several parents contacted the Centre Daily Times to complain that their conservative students felt uncomfortable as professors talked about Democrat Hillary Clinton’s loss.

Powers said the university has mechanisms in place to address any such situation.

“If students in a classroom believe that an instructor has acted beyond the limits of academic freedom, there are policies and procedures in place for seeking a faculty conference and mediation ,” she said.

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