UW professor under fire for tweeting at incoming freshmen

Karen Herzog:

An outspoken University Wisconsin-Madison professor has tweeted herself into a world of controversy.

Sara Goldrick-Rab is under fire for finding future Badgers on Twitter and essentially encouraging them to take their money elsewhere — as well as for comparing Gov. Scott Walker to Adolf Hitler.

College Republicans blasted her on Wednesday, and on Thursday, Goldrick-Rab was rebuked by UW-Madison’s faculty governing group in a withering statement that said she hurt both academic freedom and the university “with inaccurate statements and misrepresentations.”

Goldrick-Rab is a tenured professor of educational policy studies and sociology with a national profile in both her field of research and the ongoing debate over faculty tenure at Wisconsin public universities. She has openly that said she’s looking for another job because she believes academic freedom is in jeopardy in Wisconsin.

Goldrick-Rab acknowledges that she searched Twitter for future Badgers. The prolific Twitter-user says she just wanted to inform them of changes to faculty tenure and shared governance that were about to become part of state law — changes that she believes would hurt the quality of their education, but that the university wasn’t telling them about.

While some future Badgers thanked her, a group who had just graduated from a Kenosha high school took exception. One of them contacted the College Republicans of UW-Madison, who called on the university Wednesday to address it — more than a month after the Twitter contact occurred.

It’s fine to engage those with different viewpoints in a respectful way, when they are interested in having a discussion, Anthony Birch, chairman of the young Republicans group, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.