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Group offers pay to police faculty at UCLA
LOS ANGELES — A former congressman is among three people who have quit the advisory board of a conservative alumni group at the University of California, Los Angeles, after students were offered money to police professors accused of pushing liberal views.
Former two-term Rep. James Rogan, a Republican who helped lead impeachment proceedings against former President Clinton, sent an e-mail Wednesday to Andrew Jones, head of the year-old Bruin Alumni Association, saying he didn't want his name connected to the group.
"I am uncomfortable to say the least with this tactic," Rogan wrote. "It places students in jeopardy of violating myriad regulations and laws."
Harvard historian Stephan Thernstrom and UCLA professor emeritus Jascha Kessler quit earlier after they learned of the group's activities.
The group has been offering students up to $100 to supply tapes and notes from classes to expose professors suspected of pushing liberal political views on students.
Jones, 24, a 2003 graduate and former head of the campus Republican group, said his new organization, registered as a nonprofit, does not charge dues and has no official members, but has raised a total of $22,000 from 100 donors.
Paying for results
The group is following the footsteps of various conservative groups that have taken steps, including monitoring professors, to counter what they regard as an overwhelming leftist tilt at elite colleges and universities. Jones said many efforts have done a poor job of documenting their claims. As a result, he said, the Bruin Alumni Association is offering to pay students for tapes and notes from classes.
"We're just trying to get people back on a professional level of things," Jones said.
He said he would accept recordings only from students whose professors consented in writing to have lectures taped. And $100 would be paid only if students furnished complete recordings of every class session, as well as detailed lecture notes and all other materials.
Chancellor Albert Carnesale denounced the campaign Thursday as "reprehensible," and school officials warned that selling or distributing recordings of classroom lectures without an instructor's consent violates UCLA policy.
University spokesman Phil Hampton said Jones would be sent a letter warning him that faculty hold copyrights to all course materials and that the campaign encouraged students to violate school policy.
Targeted professors have likened the effort to a witch hunt.
Education professor Peter McLaren, No. 1 on the association's "Dirty Thirty," called the tactics "beneath contempt."
"Any sober, concerned citizen would look at this and see right through it as a reactionary form of McCarthyism," he said.
Advisory-board member Shawn Steel, a lawyer who recently served as chairman of the California Republican Party, defended the association.
"Most parents assume students get a square education at a public university, when in fact, there is no real intellectual diversity," Steel said. "If a student says anything positive about [President] Bush, he'll get bashed."
Compiled from The Associated Press, the Los Angeles Times and Reuters
Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company