Letters to the editor


Responses to video of Prof. Sragow

I’ve noticed students making audio recordings of professors without asking, which I also think it is at best impolite and, at worst, a violation of trust. Videotaping an educator and sending an edited video to a smear website is not the rational response of a student who is worried about an uncomfortable learning environment: going to the head of a department or a dean is.

Indeed, secretly taping professors and students is as much a violation of a comfortable learning environment where learning can be pursued without fear or favor as anything the professor did or did not do.

In my life, I have had right-wing and left-wing teachers. I’ve learned from all of them. USC has both left-wing and right-wing guest teachers (their bios rather give the game away to sensitive students). And our tenure-track faculty comprises non-political researchers and academics.

My alma mater of Cambridge is currently dealing with a professor who expresses support for eugenics and expresses racial discrimination on his website. Students complained to the student union and the administration. That’s what you do when you’re genuinely offended. Don’t drag USC’s name through the mud to make cheap political points. Especially when that’s what you are accusing a professor of doing.

And videotaping people without their knowledge is super-sketchy. That’s a point that is always true.

Simon Radford

Graduate Student, Political Science and International Relations

 

As a USC alumnus, it is extremely disappointing to see a professor at my alma mater spewing such vile, biased vitriol in the classroom and calling it education.

Your conduct, and the unvarnished bias you exhibit to students, is prohibitive in working toward creating a healthy educational environment. One could surmise that students taking your class, who may hold opposite political views and values, wouldn’t stand a chance of being able to explore or voice their beliefs in the learning environment you have created in your classroom without the fear being labeled by you in class with a slur or punished in how they are graded.

There are forums off- and on-campus, such as Tommy Trojan at lunch time, for all of us to voice our views in, where people can stop, tune in or tune out and not feel intimidated that their grades or future is reliant on them agreeing with their professor’s bias or not.

Scott Kanady

Class of 1990

 

As a conservative, USC alumna and former board member of the USC College Republicans, I was less than thrilled to see a video of my former professor Darry Sragow, in the same class that I took, bashing Republicans and making false and disparaging accusations about Republicans.

However, I’m also less than thrilled with the students in the class.

While I do not condone Sragow’s statements, and obviously his comments were over the top (and much more severe than when I was in his class), I think that conservative students need to stand up and engage in debate when their beliefs are challenged. Secretly recording videos to expose a professor, even though his statements were inappropriate, is doing nothing to help the conservative cause.

Sragow always welcomed debate and discussion and approached my comments with a dry sense of humor (that was indeed often partisan). Some students may not be comfortable in such a situation, but I think that students (especially conservative students) need to understand how important voicing their own views is in the classroom.

Emily Schrader

Class of 2012, Former USC College Republicans Chief of Staff

 

Over the past 24 hours, I have watched with a mixture of horror and awe as my professor’s comments from my election law class last semester were broadcast on The O’Reilly Factor and other conservative media outlets.

My objection is not to the reaction to the comments my professor made. While I believe that Professor Sragow encouraged disagreement with his own views in class, I objected to many of the generalizations he used in the video clips. I believe that the Republican Party will not go extinct but will instead play an important role in creating a better future for Americans of all racial makeups.

My objection is to the serendipitous fashion in which his views were revealed. By using a camera to secretly videotape a professor, Tyler Talgo will deprive his fellow students of the real-world political examples and academic security, which enhance the academic experience of Republican and Democratic students alike.

Part of the beauty of learning is that sometimes it comes through failure. In this new technological age, the idea that all of my in-class comments could be secretly recorded and broadcast to future employers through Facebook or the blogosphere is offensive. USC has an obligation to protect their students. No student is going to feel comfortable arguing a new philosophical viewpoint or discussing sensitive issues such as race and gender if their views are not treated with discretion. Talgo’s actions are an affront to his classmates’ trust and academic security, which ultimately facilitates the kind of bipartisan discussion he claims to seek.

Andrew Myers

Freshman, Political Science

 

Read the full texts online at dailytrojan.com

 

10 replies
  1. Jonny
    Jonny says:

    This guy is an adjunct brought in with Republicans to tell students about partisan politics. He is not a ‘political scientist’. If the kid didn’t like it he could have chosen to take a class with Guggenheim Award-winning political scientist Lee Epstein who is probably the best scholar in the world on the US Supreme Court. He could have taken a class with Dennis Chong who is one of the best-known political scientists in the country. Matt McCubbins is the best-paid academic in California because he is such a big deal. USC has a pretty damn good political science department. Instead this kid decided to smear the school. And idiots have jumped on their soapboxes, claiming to be Alums, and are happy to throw them under the bus too. I hope this kid enjoys his 15 minutes but he’s hurting my school and that makes me mad. Of course the school has to back Prof Sragow: it starts a terrible precedent with spies in every classroom and rewards a kid who broke the law in taping people without their consent. If this kid had acted like an adult and gone to the department and said that he didn’t feel comfortable, something would have been done. Instead he wanted to play to prejudice. Sad.

    • sad day
      sad day says:

      So Prof Sragow gets a pass for preaching hate because the kid didn’t get “permission” from his teacher to videotape? He didn’t get “permission” from USC to film hatred, so its his fault.
      The University will soon be issuing uniforms and whistles…I am sure you will want one. No, the school does not have to back hatred, they do not have to back Prof Sragow. they could have a backbone and state at this type of hatred is awful and will not be tolerated.

      • Jonny
        Jonny says:

        You are missing the point. You don’t video ANYONE. Go make a complaint to the head of department. It is what civilized people do. People who act like adults. This kid clearly wanted his 15 minutes of fame at USC’s expense. Sickening.

        • sad day
          sad day says:

          If he was not teaching such awful stuff, no one would have videotaped him.
          It’s not about videotaping,
          It’s about hatred and it should not be tolerated, ever!

  2. Steve Wilson
    Steve Wilson says:

    This kid secretly taping people and promoting himself on TV should be ashamed of himself. I hope USC kicks him out.

  3. Don Harmon
    Don Harmon says:

    The classroom should be free of indoctrination from the professor, political, religious, right, left or otherwise. The professor should teach the facts, present respective differing views of each issue objectively, and not preach or advocate any position. So how should opinions in the classroom be rendered? Easy.

    The professor should ask the students to present their own views and to defend or critique the perspectives that were objectively presented part of his or her lecture. At this point, students should predominate in presenting their opinions. But if the classroom is a place of free speech, why should the professor not express his or her opinion like the students? Simple.

    Students can politely differ with one another without repercussions. But when the professor expresses a political, religious, etc. view, it has the effect of being “approved,” “correct” and “proper,” this makes the students reluctant to state differing views, for fear of bad effects on their grades. Sadly, some professors do not care. They deem it so important to promote their own views that objective teaching and free discussion do not matter. Sad, but true. I hated to see a professor on TV from my USC shamelessly pushing political views. This was not OK for Herbert Marcuse or Angela Davis of the UC system many years ago, (google them) and it is certainly not OK for USC.

    • disappointed
      disappointed says:

      Thank you! Finally common sense has prevailed. Provost, listen to the people! This professor must go!

  4. Robert A. Danford
    Robert A. Danford says:

    I wrote to the President and I described my bitter disappointment over the Scragow situation, and of course the Campus Provost wrote almost verbatim what was stated to the Daily Trojan, and I found the whole thing to be odd at least! The issue is not how the Instructor said what he said, it is this, had the exact same Instructor been an Old Angry White Guy who made statements that African-Americans & Hispanics were dumb and lazy, and that Michelle Obama was this, and Michelle Obama was that, how fast would the Student Body would have reacted and how fast would that Instructor have been dismissed? The whole thing is most disappointing and hypocritical!

  5. disappointed
    disappointed says:

    This person was caught teaching really hateful stuff. The issue is not about videotaping, the issue is about this unqualified teacher. By the way, videotaping and recording is done all the time in the workplace.

    • John T.
      John T. says:

      Indeed. Also, the videotaping is really the only way this student could fight back, when the professor and Provost are clearly turning a blind eye to hate speech. It’s mindboggling that this is going on in a classroom of all places.
      USC has lost all crediblity, and is not teaching its students.

      As an alum I am very disapointed and will no longer donate any money to this school.

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