AAUP@FHSU


Three Things You Can Do to Help Save Graduate Education

The tax bill passed by the House of Representatives threatens to devastate graduate education by reclassifying tuition waivers as taxable income–a move that, if it becomes law, would result in an untenable financial burden for many graduate students. It would also repeal the current Student Loan Interest Deduction, which would result in an increased cost of roughly $24 billion to student borrowers over the next decade. The Senate is pushing to pass its version of a tax plan, possibly as soon as this week.

You can help stop these provisions from becoming law. Please do these three things today to protect graduate education:

  1. Support the grad tax walkout, which will occur tomorrowWednesday, November 29 at 1pm Eastern time, 10am Pacific time. You can support the walkout by downloading a sign to hang on your campus, walking out, or tweeting support using the hashtag #SaveGradEd. More information about the walkout here.
  2. Share information about what’s happening on Facebook—click here to share a graphic.
  3. Call 855-980-2350 to be patched through to your senator; tell them you oppose taxing tuition waivers for grad students.

Once the bill passes the Senate, the two chambers will then need to resolve any differences and pass a final bill before year’s end. Most provisions of the bill, if passed this year, are scheduled to take effect January 1st.

Stay tuned.

The AAUP


Amicus Brief: Campus Carry Violates Academic Freedom

The AAUP filed an amicus brief last week supporting a challenge to a statute and policy in Texas that compel faculty to permit concealed handguns in college classrooms. We argue that the policy violates faculty members’ academic freedom.

Texas passed a “campus carry law” that expressly permits concealed handguns on university campuses, and in 2016 the University of Texas at Austin issued a policy mandating that faculty permit concealed handguns in their classrooms. Several faculty sued, challenging the policy and the law. The lower court dismissed the case, holding that the faculty had not proven that they were harmed by the law or university policy. The faculty appealed and the case is now before the Fifth Circuit federal appeals court.

The AAUP joined with the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence in an amicus brief supporting the challenge. We argue that college campuses are marketplaces of ideas, and that the presence of weapons has a chilling effect on the rigorous academic exchange of ideas. Students and faculty members will not be comfortable discussing controversial subjects if they think there might be a gun in the classroom. The brief argues that the policy (and the law pursuant to which the policy was created) requiring that handguns be permitted in classrooms harms faculty as it deprives them of a core academic decision and chills their First Amendment right to academic freedom. The brief cites decades of social science research supporting these apprehensions.

The brief argues that the “decision whether to permit or exclude handguns in a given classroom is, at bottom, a decision about educational policy and pedagogical strategy. It predictably affects not only the choice of course materials, but how a particular professor can and should interact with her students—how far she should press a student or a class to wrestle with unsettling ideas, how trenchantly and forthrightly she can evaluate student work. Permitting handguns in the classroom also affects the extent to which faculty can or should prompt students to challenge each other. The law and policy thus implicate concerns at the very core of academic freedom: They compel faculty to alter their pedagogical choices, deprive them of the decision to exclude guns from their classrooms, and censor their protected speech.”

To support the AAUP’s continued legal work, donate to the AAUP Foundation’s Legal Defense Fund now.

Thank you,
Aaron Nisenson
Senior Counsel, AAUP


Fighting for Our Future

Did you know that an upcoming US Supreme Court case could have a profound impact on the rights of faculty and all Americans to work together for our rights to free expression and safe, just workplaces? The case is part of a broad effort to weaken the voice of working men and women joined in unions. The AAUP is fighting these attacks.

Several court cases and legislative initiatives being pursued across the country aim to weaken the rights of working people, erode and privatize our public institutions, and further exacerbate the power imbalances in our economy. In particular, a ruling in the case Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, to be heard by the US Supreme Court this term, could result in workers in the public sector, including academics who are joined in unions, losing the right to collect contributions from all who are represented.

This would ultimately harm people working in higher education, our students, and our campuses. Standing together makes it possible to negotiate safe workplaces, reasonable teaching loads, a fair return on work, and the ability to retire with dignity. Faculty and academic professionals in unions defend academic freedom, standards in public higher education, shared governance, and due process protections.

The case is an attempt by powerful corporate interests to damage the public sector. We plan to submit an amicus brief in this case.

Here’s what you can do on the local level:

Stay informed. Stay engaged. Continue advocating for your campus community, your students, and higher education as a public good. Help organize your fellow faculty members to exercise a voice on campus. Together we are stronger.

Regardless of the outcome of this case, challenges to our profession, higher education, and our collective voice will continue. It’s more important than ever that we stand together. Our collective action makes it possible to defend the very best values of higher education. Thanks for being a part of it.

Julie Schmid
Executive Director, AAUP

P.S. A great way to support the continued legal work of the AAUP is to donate to the AAUP Foundation’s Legal Defense Fund. Click here to donate.


Get Ready for Campus Equity Week!

Campus Equity Week is approaching! During this week, which runs from October 25 to 31, AAUP members and other activists hold actions to draw attention to the working conditions of faculty in contingent positions. We seek to make people aware of the reality that faculty in contingent positions, which constitute about three-fourths of the faculty positions in the US, typically work without job security, for low wages, and without access to the professional working conditions that support student learning.

This reality is something I know well. In addition to being an AAUP officer, I’m an adjunct faculty member in the Colorado Community College system, living paycheck to paycheck and facing significant debt. My story mirrors that of many contingent faculty across the country, and here in Colorado we’ll be sharing our stories during Campus Equity Week.

Interested in holding an event on your campus?

Visit the AAUP’s One Faculty, One Resistance page to find CEW resources and ideas for taking action on your campus.

The page includes an action packet for you to download and share with colleagues, students, and supporters at your campus. In it is a chart showing trends in the academic labor force from 1975 to 2015, when the number of part-time faculty increased rapidly, and an AAUP report entitled Tenure and Teaching-Intensive Appointments that examines the collapsing faculty infrastructure. It also contains posters about faculty working conditions you can post in your classroom or office.

I began teaching as an adjunct believing that this job would lead to full-time work. That didn’t happen. My story is shared by thousands of adjunct faculty across the country, and at times my colleagues are unjustifiably ashamed about our working conditions. They take this personally, as if they’ve failed. I’m always telling them, “You haven’t failed, the system has failed you.” And that’s something we’re working to change.

Let’s bring attention to the story of contingent faculty this Campus Equity Week!

Caprice Lawless
Adjunct faculty member, Front Range Community College
Second Vice President, AAUP


One Faculty, One Resistance

After last November’s election, we expressed our concern about unique threats posed by the new administration to core institutions of our democracy and to academic freedom. In the months since, we have seen these threats begin to unfold.

Faculty members are being targeted and harassed, the freedom to join together on the job is in jeopardy, and producers of independent thought and knowledge, including faculty, scientists, and journalists, are threatened. The academic year has begun with a spate of racist incidents on campus, another travel ban aimed primarily at Muslims, the decision to end the DACA program that grants residency to many of our students, and, just last Thursday, a decision by the Supreme Court to take up a case that could strip workers in unions of rights.

We believe that democracy thrives on dissent, critical inquiry, free speech, and free research. And that means that we must do more than witness these events; we must resist them.

That’s why we invite you to check out our One Faculty, One Resistance campaign.

The AAUP is the voice of the profession. As such, we’ve been speaking up for academic freedom for more than 100 years. And in these troubled times, we’re doing it with renewed urgency and vigor.

We’ve created a central space for our campaigns and materials related to these threats– materials to help you fight against targeted harassment of faculty and for the right to teach and conduct research freely, and to resist political interference and litmus tests in higher education.

Take a look around and share news of the campaign! A powerful resistance requires collective action and voice. Click here to share.

Graphic of the website

We’ll be in touch soon.

Rudy Fichtenbaum
President, AAUP


Action against the “travel ban” and a win for science

One of the things your membership supports is our work in the courts to protect academic freedom. I’m writing today to update you on recent legal developments.

Last night the AAUP joined with the American Council on Education and other higher education groups in an amicus brief to the US Supreme Court opposing the Trump administration’s travel ban. We argue that people from the six countries identified in the ban should not be barred or deterred from entering the United States and contributing to our colleges and universities.

As the brief notes, the ban has caused specific harm to higher education. From the moment the executive order containing the ban was signed, recruits were deterred from accepting faculty positions in the United States. Some scholars have pulled out of academic conferences here, either because they were directly affected by the ban or because they were concerned about its impact.

In the brief, we emphasize the international exchange of scholarly work, and explain how the ban “jeopardizes the vital contributions made by foreign students, scholars, and faculty by telling the world in the starkest terms that American colleges and universities are no longer receptive to them.”

The amicus brief is part of the AAUP’s continued work to combat the chilling effects that the administration’s border policies are having on faculty and higher education. We are also looking into legal issues related to a regulation that authorizes border patrol officers to search a traveler’s electronic devices at the borders without any basis for suspicion. In conjunction with the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, we are seeking information from affected faculty members; if you have had an experience of this kind, please read more and submit information here.

Another facet of our legal work involves defending scientists against a campaign of harassment being carried out by a group that opposes climate science and has stated that it intends to “keep peppering universities around the country” with requests for climate science research records. On Friday, we got some good news as the Arizona Court of Appeals rejected attempts by this group to use public records requests to compel two University of Arizona faculty members to release emails related to their research.

In an amicus brief in support of the scientists, the AAUP had argued that state statute creates an exemption to public release of records for academic research records, and that a general statutory exemption protecting records when in the best interests of the state, in particular, the state’s interest in academic freedom, should have been considered. The appeals court agreed. Read more here.

Lastly, I’d like to take a minute to thank you for standing with the AAUP.  In busy times like this, it is important to remember that members like you make this work and our victories possible.

Regards,
Aaron Nisenson
AAUP Senior Counsel

P.S. Please consider supporting the legal defense of higher education through a donation to the AAUP’s Foundation’s Legal Defense Fund.


Trump Is Wrong to Eliminate DACA

The AAUP denounces in the strongest possible terms the decision by the Trump administration to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA). This decision marks a continuation of the anti-immigrant racist policies that the administration has supported from the start.

Many of our members come from families that immigrated to the US. Their forebears came to the US for the same reason that today’s immigrants do, for a better life for their families, especially their children. But the Trump administration, feeding off the fears and insecurity of many Americans, has used the issue of undocumented workers, along with racism and anti-Semitism, to divide people and disguise the real causes of the declining standards of working people, including working people of color.

DACA, which provides renewable two-year work permits for immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as children, was created by President Obama after the Republican-led House of Representatives refused to act on immigration. About 1.9 million undocumented young people are eligible to apply for the DACA program. Nearly 800,000 had their request for DACA status granted in 2016. Of those who have DACA status, about 576,000 are enrolled in college. In other words, an overwhelming majority of those granted DACA status are our students.

One of the major factors that makes American higher education a world class system is the diversity of our faculty and students. We owe it to these students and their families, as well as to other undocumented young people, to speak out against this action in the strongest manner possible. We call on our members to urge Congress to act immediately to undo President Trump’s action and allow these young people to remain in our classrooms.

We also urge Congress to enact a comprehensive immigration reform policy that will welcome immigrants to our shores–those fleeing political persecution and violence as well as those who simply seek a better life, regardless of their race, religion, or national origin.

Rudy Fichtenbaum
AAUP President