· Republican graduate's site prompts witch-hunt fears
· 31 academics listed as 'worthy of scrutiny'
It is the sort of invitation any poverty-stricken student would find hard to resist.
"Do you have a professor who just can't stop talking about President Bush,
about the war in Iraq, about the Republican party, or any other ideological issue
that has nothing to do with the class subject matter? If you help ... expose the
professor, we'll pay you for your work."
For full notes, a tape recording and a copy of all teaching materials, students
at the University of California Los Angeles are being offered $100 (£57)
- the tape recorder is provided free of charge - by an alumni group.
Lecture notes without a tape recording net $50, and even non-attendance at
the class while providing copies of the teaching materials is worth $10.
But the initiative has prompted concerns that the group, the brainchild of
a former leader of the college's Republicans, is a witch-hunt. Several targeted
professors have complained, figures associated with the group have distanced
themselves from the project and the college is studying whether the sale of
notes infringes copyright and contravenes regulations.
The Bruin Alumni Association's single registered member is Andrew Jones, a
24-year-old former student who gained some notoriety while at the university
for staging an "affirmative action bake sale" at which ethnic minority
students were offered discounts on pastries.
His latest project has academics worrying about moves by rightwing groups to
counter what they perceive to be a leftist bias at many colleges.
The group's website, uclaprofs.com, lists 31 professors whose classes it considers
worthy of scrutiny. The professors teach classes in history, African-American
studies, politics, and Chicano studies. Their supposed radicalism is indicated
on the site by a rating system of black fists. The organisation denies on the
website that it is conducting a vendetta against those with differing political
views. "We are concerned solely with indoctrination, one-sided presentation
of ideological controversies and unprofessional classroom behaviour, no matter
where it falls on the ideological spectrum."
But in another posting, it is clear just where on the spectrum the group thinks
the bias might fall. "One aspect of this radicalisation, outlined here,
is an unholy alliance between anti-war professors, radical Muslim students and
a pliant administration. Working together, they have made UCLA a major organising
centre for opposition to the war on terror."