David Halperin, director of Campus Progress, a left-leaning national organization, said using personal eMail accounts to exchange work-related ideas and theories might be the best protection for faculty members wary of political attacks.

“In a world where there’s a lot of overreaching, I think it’s probably a smart thing for professors to do,” he said. “But a better practice would be one in which they don’t have to work around the system” and resort to personal eMail accounts to avoid scrutiny.

The increased political heat on faculty members also was seen in Michigan this spring.

The Michigan-based Mackinac Center for Public Policy on March 30 filed FOIAs seeking eMail messages sent and received by faculty at Michigan State University, Michigan University, and Wayne State University.

The group’s FOIA asks for eMail messages sent by faculty and staff in the universities’ labor studies departments that include words such as “Wisconsin,” “Scott Walker”—Wisconsin’s Republican governor—and “Maddow,” presumably referring to MSNBC host Rachel Maddow.