An In-depth Look at Targeted Harassment of Faculty

“We are all a single outrage campaign away from having no rights at all.”

--George Ciccariello-Maher on his resignation from Drexel University after being targeted and harassed.

Report on the UNL Investigation

An investigative report is out  in a case that crystallizes the current right-wing assault on higher education. It involves issues that the AAUP has been working on intensively this year: faculty harassment and exaggerated controversies over free speech on campus.

The case concerns Courtney Lawton, a graduate student and part-time lecturer at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. At the beginning of the fall semester, Lawton protested an on-campus recruitment table of Turning Point USA, a conservative organization that maintains the Professor Watchlist. Her protest was recorded by the undergraduate student staffing the table, and the resulting video was widely disseminated online—one of the primary strategies of right-wing groups in their attacks on higher education—leading to threats against her and the university.

You can read the full report here. We held a Facebook Live with AAUP’s Hans-Joerg Tiede to discuss the case. Watch below.

Taking a look at Turning Point

The funders behind the Professor Watchlist aren’t too keen on transparency. Many of the donors who support the $8 million budget of Turning Point USA  prefer to remain anonymous. That’s not surprising given that Turning Point’s work has sparked vicious campaigns of online harassment against faculty members.

This week we’re drawing back the curtain on the right-wing organization, whose Professor Watchlist purports “to expose and document college professors who discriminate against conservative students and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom.” 

We’ve developed two fact sheets on Turning Point. The first gives an overview of who they are and the second gives tips on what to do if they’re active on your campus. Share and spread the word.

Did you catch our Facebook Live about targeted harassment? If not, you can watch it here.

Click the images to download the fact sheets.

A Toolkit on Turning Point USA

More Work by the AAUP on Targeted Harassment

Placed on watchlists. Harassed on social media. Threatened. This is becoming normal in an environment increasingly hostile to faculty.Over the last year, targeted online harassment of faculty has emerged as a significant threat to academic freedom. Fueled by websites such as Professor Watchlist, Campus Reform, and College Fix, campaigns of threats and harassment are directed against faculty members for what they are reported to have said in the classroom or posted on social media.

The AAUP believes that faculty play an important role in a free society and work to protect your right to speak out without fear. Scroll down for resources, reports, and articles to aid you in the fight against targeted harassment.

Want an overview? Check out our recent Facebook Live on targeted harassment with Joan Wallach Scott, professor emerita in the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, and a longstanding member of the AAUP’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure, and Henry Reichman, professor emeritus of history at California State University. Click here to watch and share on Facebook. 


"I'm feeling strong & smart. I refuse to be intimidated and will continue to speak & write the truth."
Dr. Laurie Rubel, Brooklyn College on Twitter on 1/13/18

Planning Ahead: Guides for Dealing with Targeted Harassment

Want to know what it’s like to be the target of the right-wing machine? Watch the video.

Warning: some of the statements are graphic and abusive. 

Case Letters from the AAUP

A look at four of the recent harassment cases where the AAUP has intervened to protect academic freedom.

Want to know more?

Reports, FAQs, and articles about targeted harassment.

Join the Fight Against Targeted Harassment

In addition to harming individuals, these campaigns of harassment pose a profound and ominous challenge to higher education’s most fundamental values. The right of faculty members to speak or write as citizens, free from institutional censorship or discipline, has long been recognized as a core principle of academic freedom. We stand together against harassment. Add your name to our fight against targeted harassment of faculty.