Conservative nonprofit directs its indignation at NYU professors

Right-wing organization Turning Point USA has accused four additional NYU faculty of discriminating against conservative students. “I can give two shits about them,” one of the professors told WSN.


From left to right: Danielle Elleman, Deborah Archer and Amin Husain. (Courtesy of Amy Weng, Danielle Elleman and Quinn Russell Brown; illustration by Arnav Binaykia)

Clara Spray, Staff Writer

Less than a year after right-wing group Turning Point USA added six NYU faculty to its Professor Watchlist, it is adding four more, accusing them of spreading “left-wing propaganda” and “discriminating against conservative students.” The watchlist, a website created by TPUSA, was started in 2016.

TPUSA has more than 800 high school and college chapters across the country, and claims to promote academic freedom by educating, training and organizing students for its cause.

The organization added NYU professors Deborah Archer, Sarah Leonard, Danielle Elleman and Gabrielle Gambrell to the list over the last three months. Elleman, NYU’s associate director of sexual and relationship respect services, said that she thinks TPUSA seems to focus on issues covered by professors that can be politically controversial.

“I understand that sexuality, gender identity and expression are politically charged issues right now,” Elleman said. “My work advocating for healthy, respectful relationships doesn’t ‘discriminate against conservative students and advance leftist propaganda,’ as Turning Point suggests — it promotes the self-determination and dignity of all.”

According to its website, TPUSA added Elleman to the list because she hosts the podcast “Good Sex @NYU” and discusses “sexually explicit topics.”

Elleman is a reproductive health advocate on campus and participated in an October student government panel covering reproductive health resources and issues on campus titled “Reproductive and Sexual Justice.” Leonard, another of the professors recently added to the watchlist, was also on the panel.

None of the recently added faculty members plan to change their teaching because of the watchlist. Archer, a professor of clinical law and co-faculty director at NYU Law’s Center on Race, Inequity, and the Law, said she welcomes diverse viewpoints in her class. TPUSA added Archer to the list because of her academic work on racial justice, specifically regarding critical race theory.

“Colleges and universities have long been a beacon of intellectual freedom and engagement,” Archer said. “I welcome and encourage a range of perspectives in my classroom, regardless of background.”

Amin Husain, an adjunct professor of liberation and resistance at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study and one of six faculty added to the list in spring 2021, said he was unaware TPUSA added him to the watchlist. Husain is one of 12 professors from across the country “featured” by TPUSA.

“Honestly, I can give two shits about them,” Husain said. “They are part of a violence that’s being enacted against ideas and desires of people.”

The website cites Husain’s work with Decolonize This Place, an activist organization focused on Black liberation, de-gentrification and Indigenous struggles. Husain said he was not surprised by the list or TPUSA’s mission statement.

“There’s this coalition of fuckery that’s going on that does this kind of stuff,” Husain said. “In fact, there’s this idea of academic freedom, except it’s only for certain people and certain causes and certain struggles.”

Contact Clara Spray at [email protected].