Two UMass professors named to list of ‘radicals’

By Elizabeth Wallace

Collegian file photo
Collegian file photo

University of Massachusetts professors Richard D. Wolff and Sut Jhally were added to a list of professors alleged of discriminating conservatives and advocating radical leftist positions by, a project of Turning Point USA.

The list intends to “expose and document college professors who discriminate against conservative students and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom,” according to the watchlist’s website.

Wolff, professor of economics emeritus, taught at UMass from 1973 to 2008. Wolff teaches at the New School University in New York City in the graduate program in international affairs.

“Dr. Wolff has been called the most prominent Marxist economist in America …[and] has been an activist for Marxist economic policy for decades,” the website stated.

“It’s a sad misunderstanding of what education should be and what the job of a professor is,” said Wolff in an interview with the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

Jhally, professor of communication, teaches undergraduate and graduate courses at UMass. Jhally is also the founder and executive director of the Media Education Foundation, which, according to its website, “produces and distributes documentary films and other educational resources to inspire critical thinking about the social, political, and cultural impact of American mass media.”

Addressing the topic in class, Jhally said, “The list itself is absolutely insane…It makes no sense whatsoever. It’s not systematic. It doesn’t have any logic to it…It’s totally amateurish.”

The watchlist’s write-up references Jhally’s “politically loaded Twitter account.” Additionally, the site writes, “He has also said that conservative Supreme Court justices are ‘frat-boy fascists’ and that the media has demonized the late socialist dictator, Hugo Chavez.”

In response to the watchlist’s reasoning for including him, Jhally said, “If they wanted to put me on the list, they could have picked much worse things, right? I mean, they could have picked any class I did…and just quoted me. They didn’t need to go to some Twitter thing.” Jhally’s students laughed at this comment.

UMass spokesperson Edward Blaguszewski released a statement on behalf of the faculty at UMass expressing support for continued debate in classrooms and freedom of speech.

“Through their scholarly research and teaching, faculty members share their expertise on a broad spectrum of disciplines that enrich the educational experience of students, who benefit from discussion and debate of divergent views and are encouraged to develop their own ideas and beliefs,” the statement said.

“We aim to post professors who have records of targeting students for their viewpoints, forcing students to adopt a certain perspective, and/or abuse or harm students in any way for standing up for their beliefs,” said Matt Lamb, organizer of, in a New York Times article.

Turning Point USA, a non-profit organization, works “to identify, educate, train, and organize students to promote the principles of fiscal responsibility, free markets, and limited government,” according to the organization’s website.

In an interview with the New York Times, Hans-Joerg Tiede of the American Association of University Professors said, “There is a continuing cycle of these sorts of things. They serve the same purpose: to intimidate individuals from speaking plainly in their classrooms or in their publications.”

Tiede worries professors will face harassment as a result of appearing on the watchlist. Additionally, in the article, Tiede warns about the potential use of the watchlist to sabotage professors’ careers.

According to the project’s website, “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.”

Turning Point USA began promoting the site in November but says that it compiled its list based on news stories published over the past few years.

Elizabeth Wallace can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @ER_Wallace.