Calvin College professor added to “professor watchlist” for addressing institutional racism

Dec 14, 2016


To some, the idea of a “watchlist” raises uncomfortable thoughts and worries about infringement on people’s constitutional rights.

There’s a basis in our history for those concerns: the “Red Scare” from Senator Joe McCarthy in the 1950s. The post-9/11 Terrorist Watchlist, with its various secondary lists, such as the no-fly list.

As lawsuits challenge the constitutionality of these watchlists, courts are ruling that these lists are treading on due process rights spelled out in the Constitution.

And now there’s a new website called Professor Watchlist. Its self-described mission is to “expose and document college professors who discriminate against conservative students and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom.”

Professor Watchlist is a project of Turning Point USA, a conservative youth group founded by Charlie Kirk in 2012.

Joseph Kuilema is a Calvin College professor who teaches social work. His name was added to the Professor Watchlist a few weeks ago because of an op-ed he wrote addressing institutional racism and white privilege.

Kuilema told us he was initially surprised to be put on the list, but upon further reflection, “it makes quite a bit of sense.”

“Both of the aspects of my identity that I would sort of put forefront, social work and Christianity, have both been labeled as dangerous ideas throughout history,” he said.

Kuilema’s understanding is that this list is culled from alt-right and far right media sources.

“I don’t think this list is in any way an objective assessment,” he said.

Kuilema’s inclusion on the list stems from an incident on November 22, 2015, when students drew swastikas and wrote “white power” in the snow on cars on Calvin’s campus.

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“I think we at Calvin are good at condemning overtly white supremacist language and symbols, but we sometimes struggle to condemn the idea of white privilege or the idea of institutional racism,” he said.

“So I wanted to say, hey, it’s easy to condemn the swastika, but we’ve got a lot of work to do as a community … to acknowledge the history of institutional racism, even within our own denomination, within our own church, within our own college.”

Listen to our conversation above for more.

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