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CAUT Bulletin Archives

September 2008

Snitch Project Reminiscent of McCarthyism

A conservative network of aca­demics and students in the Uni­ted States has launched a new initiative calling for volunteers to help “keep watch” over American colleges and universities.

The National Association of Scho­lars’ Argus Project, named after the creature in Greek myth­ology whose body was covered with eyes, is intended to monitor allegedly left-wing biases on campuses across the country.

“Like Argus, who always had his eyes open, the NAS needs to have a steady, open-eyed watch on colleges around the country,” said Ashley Thorne, NAS director of communications. “To do that, we are asking volunteers to essentially be our eyes on different campuses. We hope to attract thoughtful, attentive people reporting on what they’ve witnessed to be our look-outs over academe.”

Among the issues of concern to the association are university and college mission statements that “be­tray an ideological agenda” and resi­dence-life programs that “include political and diversity training.”

With the Argus initiative, the association will be providing guidance to teams of campus-based ob­servers and hopes to bring national attention to cases of ideological bias reported by their volunteers.

“The Argus volunteers are key to our efforts to expand the movement for reforming higher edu­cation,” says NAS executive director Peter Wood. “This is a movement founded not just in opposition to political correctness and other academic fads, but also in hope of re­storing the integrity of one of our nation’s most important institutions.”

According to, the NAS was founded in 1985 to fight against “politically correct” multicultural education and affirmative action policies in colleges and universities. The association is funded by a number of conservative foundations and think tanks, and first gained notoriety in 1990 at the University of Texas at Austin where NAS faculty succeeded in blocking the inclusion in an English course of civil rights readings that had been proposed in response to increasing racial and sexual harassment on campus.