Professionalism in the college classroom is on the decline. Since the 2016 election, professors all around my campus (UNC-Wilmington) have become much more inclined to use the classroom as a platform to spout political beliefs wholly unrelated to the course subject matter. In the case of one professor, the emotional trauma of Trump’s presidency eventually caused him to become so uncivil and unprofessional that he has now found himself without a job. The story of how that came about can be instructive for conservative and Christian students who find themselves subjected to pervasive abuse in the classroom.
In November of 2017, I first heard rumors of a professor using his class to viciously attack Republicans – even going so far as to hurl profanities at male students for voting for Trump. The belligerent Marxist was lucky he did not get punched out for aggressively attacking these young male students in the presence of their peers. In fact, those male students are to be commended for having more restraint than their professor.
Shorty after the rumors started to surface, it became apparent that most of this professor’s ire was actually reserved for conservative females taking his courses. In fact, between early November and the end of the semester, three female students came forward to complain. These students sought me out because they knew I was likely to be the only professor who would listen to them and actually help them do something about the problem. Their complaints were all consistent but each one added an interesting element to the previous complaint.
The first woman to complain spoke of the professor’s tendency to call dissenters fascists and to actually tell them to shut up whenever they expressed disagreement with him. It seemed lost on the Marxist ideologue that "shut up" is more in line with fascism than anti-fascism.
The second woman added that the professor was also making bizarre sexual remarks in the classroom. The comments that were reported were simply disturbing. They were also utterly irrelevant to the course subject matter.
The third woman added that she was being singled out for her religious beliefs and that other students were being told they suffered from mental disorders simply for disagreeing with their "anti-fascist" instructor. According to this student, one of her classmates was actually told to go seek immediate psychological counseling simply for disagreeing with the bullying instructor.
I encouraged the second and third woman to go to the department chair to report the "anti-fascist" Marxist instructor. In fact, I had little choice with regard to the second one – given the sexual nature of the classroom remarks.
With regard to the third complainant, there was a different reason for sending her to the department chair. In frustration, she tape-recorded the lectures and thus had direct proof of the instructor’s verbal abuse.
Fortunately, the story ends well. A few short weeks after presenting the tape to the department chair, the instructor was gone from the university. This leads us to a fundamental ethical question:
Is tape recording and reporting abusive leftist professors an act of “McCarthyism,” or is it a moral necessity?
Tape recording a professor presents no legal problem in the State of North Carolina, even if it is a one-on-one conversation outside the classroom. But the battle against abusive professors must also be won in the court of public opinion where surreptitious recording of people is deemed a distasteful enterprise, to say the least. Accordingly, I offer several pieces of advice to students who wish to fight against classroom abuse by using the tape-recorded words of their professors as evidence:
1. On the first day of class, always ask your professor for his or her permission to record lectures. This just makes sense from a test preparation standpoint. You might need to clarify or close gaps in your notes before examinations. But if problems develop with a professor, it helps to be able to say that recordings were done with the professor’s permission. This helps you maintain the moral high ground in a conflict situation.
Note: If the professor refuses to allow you to record the lecture, drop the class. This is usually an indication that he plans to conduct a politicized class that does not stick to the subject matter. Hence, he wishes to keep what happens in his class from being widely known.
2. When problems develop, always seek to resolve them with the professor. Professors occasionally correct abuses when confronted. It is rare, but it does happen. If the professor does not listen to your concerns, then you can legitimately say that an appeal was necessary. If you do not try, then you lose credibility down the road – or, more accurately, up the ladder.
3. When the professor recidivates, go to the department chair with recorded evidence. Where there is a pattern of behavior and speaking to the professor was of no avail, make sure your have documented evidence before you go up the ladder. Transcripts of a lecture will greatly enhance the chances of the department chair taking you seriously.
4. Work your way up the chain of command. If the chair does not listen to you, see the appropriate dean. If the dean does not listen to you, write the university president. If the president does not listen to you, write the Board of Trustees. If the Board of Trustees does not listen to you, go to the press.
5. Pick your battles wisely. Finally, note that none of this applies to professors who simply offend you with their radical views. Using a recording to complain about a professor and demand disciplinary action should only occur after the professor attacks you personally and/or silences your views.
Thankfully, because of a few brave women who picked their battles wisely and supported their claims with evidence, my university now has one less unhinged "anti-fascist" drawing a salary from the State of North Carolina. That's one down, and several hundred more to go.
Mike S. Adams is a Professor of Criminology at UNC-Wilmington, the author of Letters to a Young Progressive, and a columnist at TownHall.com. Follow him on Twitter.