Shannon Watkins of the Martin Center interviews a professor from N.C. State who is suing the university.

Incidents of academics being targeted for their views are on the rise, according to a new report by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). FIRE notes that the number of targeting cases has sharply increased from 24 incidents in 2015 to 113 in 2020. Unfortunately, that trend doesn’t appear to be slowing down in 2021.

But one professor at North Carolina State University has decided to push back. Stephen Porter is a professor in the College of Education, where he teaches graduate courses in statistics, causal inference, and workflow of data analysis. A conservative, Porter claims that university officials retaliated against him for expressing his views and has filed a lawsuit against the university. …

In a recent blog post, you wrote that you are a political conservative and have “been targeted by the woke mob at NC State.” In one instance, you said were attacked by faculty colleagues for questioning a proposed teaching evaluation item on diversity. Do you mind telling us what that item was?

I’d have to look at the exact wording, but it was basically something along the lines of: “were issues related to diversity addressed in the course?” —which is very different from all of our other teaching evaluation items, which basically address how the course is taught: Was the instructor prepared? Was the instructor easy to communicate with? Things like that. And so I raised a series of questions about having this content-based question used in our teaching evaluations, during a department meeting, when a college representative came by and announced that this was a potential new question.

You criticized a conference for its heavy emphasis on social justice. You were later publicly castigated for those comments. Can you tell us about what happened? …

My research area is post-secondary research, higher education. And so there’s a major conference called the Association for the Study of Higher Education. … I thought it was quite interesting, and gave it the title “ASHE,” which is the acronym for the conference, “Has Become a Woke Joke.” And, as a consequence, this blew up on Twitter.