January 31, 2017
Sociology instructor Nicholas Lee and history lecturer Jared Benson have been in the news for their humanities class, HUM 3990: Resistance and Revolution.
One of lessons they teach uses historical context to compare the Founding Fathers and modern day terrorism. Students offended by this lecture submitted an audio of Benson and Lee’s lesson to a website called Professor Watchlist last semester.
The website seeks to “expose and document college professors who discriminate against conservative students and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom.”
According to the website, the two instructors were added to the Professor Watchlist because they “promoted the idea that the Founding Fathers were terrorists.”
The students who reported Lee and Benson to the website did not attempt to discuss the incident with the professors before going to the internet, according to Lee.
“(Professor Watchlist) is created by the alt-right to list professors who they believe are jeopardizing the freedom of speech of the students or present material that is not in line with their ideology. They have nothing to do with the school,” Lee said.
Senior history major John Fatchett launched a Facebook page called Support for Nick and Jared, to promote the discussion of academic freedom in response to the event.
Fatchett created the page because he believes that the accusations made were unfair when taken out of context.
“I’ve actually taken the class before, and (Benson) does a good job of breaking down the facts and teaches it from a British perspective and not an American perspective,” Fatchett said.
“The professors have been (outcast) by their administration and colleagues because of articles posted by alt-right media sources,” according to the page, which aims to defend the professors.
The Facebook page has also led to the creation of a club that discusses academic freedom from the perspective of the students, according to Fatchett.
“(The instructors) start off their very first lectures discussing the American Revolution, where they compare the Sons of Liberty to modern time terrorists,” he said.
“If you use the historical evidence…what they did was technically terrorism, but there were certain students in the classroom who objected to their use of (the) language toward our founding fathers.”
Fatchett explained that the students went to the chancellor to complain about the lectures, bringing a recording of the lecture as evidence.
“The chancellor basically gave them the academic freedom that professors have, but the students didn’t like that result, so they posted it onto different social media sites,” said Fatchett.
The College Fix, a conservative news site that reports on college incidents, reported on the recordings of the lectures of the class on Nov. 16.
The article took issue with multiple aspects of the submitted recording, including a point when the professors compared the Boston Massacre, when five colonists were killed by British soldiers, to the 9/11 terror attacks.
“The teachers came under a nation-wide attack against both of them as individuals and as teachers,” Fatchett said.
“They got death threats, and so that’s what all of this is about. There was a while there that they were in danger of losing their jobs based on what they said,” Fatchett said.
Lee said that the page’s claims were somewhat unfounded, but the university has stood behind the professors.
“The administration and the school itself has been nothing but supportive of us,” said Lee.
“To be honest, I don’t even think this is worth commenting on. I don’t care what the alt-right thinks about me.”
Letter to the Editor:
Feb. 7, 2017
The article, “Group started to support professors criticized for comparing founding fathers to terrorists,” written by Kyle Guthrie in the Jan. 31 issue of The Scribe published without comment from our organization the accusation that we are an “alt-right” organization.
We are in no way connected to the alt-right and reject their hateful ideology. Turning Point USA is a free-market, limited government group dedicated to advancing these principles on college campuses, including UCCS.
Turning Point USA, Professor Watchlist manager