One college professor is worried about the increasingly “intrusive” nature of conservative and libertarian-leaning activists on college campuses. David Theo Goldberg, a professor of comparative literature, anthropology, criminology, law and society at the University of California-Irvine, called this new state of “surveillance” by students, student activists, fellow professors and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests as “obtrusiveness.”
Goldberg claimed, “The state is one driving condition of oversight that then produces a constant [state of] surveillance.” Too often, this leads to the point “that the faculty and students become self-surveilling.” In referring to his Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) concerns, Goldberg said, “[The] public sees themselves as the clientele of the university” and then request information from the universities. “Many, many universities have become subjected to [FOIA requests],” lamented Goldberg.
The oft-claimed Left boogeymen, the private sector and philanthropists, were the next targets for Goldberg’s ire. The “Koch brothers” are to blame for increasing surveillance of professors at universities. Goldberg criticized David Horowitz because he “has targeted any or all of us who has critiqued the state of Israel in relation to Palestine.” The list continued, “Or Breitbart or Milo Yiannopoulos or Dinesh D’Souza…the kind of intrusive ‘I’ [Right-leaning activists],” Goldberg added. “Yiannopoulus,” Goldberg said, “has become that [controversial] figure now.” He warned the audience that Milo Yiannopoulos had a humanities degree and it does not mean conservatives cannot come from the humanities.
Next on Goldberg’s grievance list was the “watchlist.” Goldberg said, “The increasing nature of watchlists…are now proliferating in a variety of ways” to “head of any critical intervention” by faculty and students. To him, “accounting has begun to dominate, not just daily life, but minute-by-minute life” for professors. Now, “faculty has policed each other…that has been great” before, Goldberg said. Today, “there’s also a sense that we are being overseen by our colleagues, a kind of obtrusiveness, too, a kind of gatekeepers as a form of looking into what you’re doing.” He turned his criticism toward college administrators, “administrators…increasingly become this condition of not letting things get out of hand or off the ground.” One form of keeping professors in line are so-called “online training modules” that can be done exclusively online. These are sexual harassment online trainings that must be completed, and can cover other topics, if needed. In his mind, these modules are “A form of keeping tabs on you and is more [for] liability purposes, not training.”
He admitted, “At some times, radical students …can be as intrusive as colleagues.” Goldberg claimed, “Students themselves, think of RateMyProfessor” to criticize professors. Also, “the emergence of in-time and class time clickers at some campuses” plays a part in ongoing surveillance of professors. He pointed out that these ‘clickers’ allow students to “click the performance of the lecturer in real-time.” He claimed, “That’s a kind of intrusive surveillance that keeps a certain modality.”
Today, “faculty have become beleaguered and are less interested in speaking out and have less time to do so,” he said. He said that the faculty have become “disattentive” to surveillance and their profession, “Just a personal observation…faculty are treating it as an antiquated job.” He criticized the lack of support among faculty because they “won’t spend critical time defending each other” anymore. “The Drexel” uproar, where a college professor got in trouble over a tweet about a White Christmas gift of a white genocide, “puts a kind of obligation of what we’re saying” in the eyes of the public. Today, professors have “a defensive set of mechanisms for when one speaks wildly.” Too often, Goldberg concluded, “University surveillance has come to reflect…more or less at both registers.”