AAUP@FHSU


AAUP Opposes University Litmus Tests

AAUP’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure released the following statement calling on public universities to not require speakers and others to pledge that they do not now, nor will they in the future, endorse a specific political movement.

“According to the National Coalition Against Censorship, at least seventeen states have passed legislation imposing punitive measures against supporters of boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) with regard to Israel. As a result, some public universities in those states have begun to require that external speakers invited to campus and others who contract with these universities, such as external reviewers of tenure and promotion materials, sign a statement pledging that they do not now, nor will they in the future, endorse BDS.

The American Association of University Professors does not endorse BDS. We take no position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict nor on calls for divestment or economic sanctions. But we oppose all academic boycotts, including an academic boycott of Israel, on the grounds that such boycotts violate the principles of academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas for which our organization has stood for over one hundred years. We believe that academic freedom ought not to be subordinated to political exigency; there will always be compelling political causes that will challenge the ideal of free and open scholarly exchange.

It is precisely for this reason that our opposition to BDS is matched as resolutely by our opposition to these pledges, which are nothing short of an attempt to limit freedom of speech and belief. Indeed, they conjure the specter of loyalty and disclaimer oaths, mainstays of McCarthyism. The right of individuals to engage in political boycotts, and to come together collectively to support a boycott, has a long and storied history in American civil protests. At colleges and universities especially, where reasoned disagreement and debate should be the order of the day, demands that faculty and students forswear support for a peaceful protest are repugnant.

At a time when there is widespread interest in making sure that speakers on all points of the political spectrum are able to make themselves heard on American campuses, the contradiction in seeking to ban advocates of this particular position is obvious and unacceptable. We, therefore, call on all institutions of higher education in the United States to challenge the required renunciation of BDS and uphold freedom of speech and belief for all members of the academic community.”

The AAUP also sent a letter to the Israeli government this week in regard to the interrogation, subsequent expulsion, and apparent banning from Israel of Columbia Law School Professor Katherine Franke in April of this year. Franke, a supporter of BDS, was expelled from Israel when attempting to visiting Israel in her capacity as a scholar and civil rights leader, not as a supporter of BDS. We believe such actions have grave implications for international academic exchange and are urging the Israeli government to reconsider the expulsion and to revoke any further ban on Professor Franke’s entry for purposes of collaborative academic and scholarly work in Israel.

The link to the statement and letter can be found here.

Thank you,
Henry Reichman, Chair, Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure


SCOTUS decides Janus case

Today, a narrow majority of Supreme Court justices sided with extremely wealthy interests in the long-awaited decision in Janus v. AFSCME, Council 31. Although this decision was not unexpected, we are disappointed by the opinion of the majority in this case, which seeks to undermine our freedom to join together to create better colleges and universities for everyone. Stay tuned for more information about the impact of Janus as we analyze the repercussions of this opinion.

You can find out about the background of this case at https://www.aaupcbc.org/together.

You may have heard in the news that this case is about being “forced” to pay union dues. But what it’s really about is an effort to undermine the voice of faculty at our colleges and universities and to diminish the rights of working people all over. The Janus case and similar court cases and legislative initiatives are part of a broad assault that seeks to erode our freedom to join together to ensure that our students have challenging learning environments and to strengthen our institutions of higher education.

But make no mistake, our fight as AAUP members to have a positive impact on our colleges and universities, to strengthen public higher education, and to protect academic freedom is not over. Together, we will continue to fight for our students, our campuses, and our communities. We will continue to say, loudly and clearly, that strong universities and well-educated citizens are essential to our survival as a democracy. That’s why our work as educators, union members, and advocates has never been more important than it is now.

In solidarity,

Rudy Fichtenbaum              Paul Davis
President, AAUP                  Chair, AAUP-CBC


Liberal Arts Matter: Sign On to the Statement

We stand for the protection of liberal arts education.

This week the AAUP issued a statement jointly with Association of American Colleges and Universities calling for the protection of the liberal arts disciplines.

This comes at a time when politicians have proposed linking tuition to the alleged market value of given majors. Students majoring in literature, art, philosophy, and history are routinely considered unemployable in the technology and information economy, despite the fact that employers in that economy strenuously argue that liberal arts majors make great tech-sector workers precisely because they are trained to think critically and creatively, and to adapt to unforeseen circumstances.

We strongly believe that higher education serves the common good — and that education is much more than narrow vocational training and should seek to enhance students’ capacities for lifelong learning.

To read the full statement, click here.

The AAUP


Oregon leads the way in organizing

We have great news to report! Yesterday, faculty at both the Oregon Institute of Technology and Oregon State University moved to form unions affiliated with the AAUP. With this, faculty at all public universities in the state have joined together in unions in an effort to protect quality higher education and strengthen teaching, learning, and research. It’s a powerful movement and an important counter to widespread attacks on academics, education, and public institutions.

Faculty unions, nonunionized AAUP chapters, and faculty senates are crucial vehicles for democracy in the academic workplace. They champion academic freedom, advance shared governance, and promote economic security for all who teach and conduct research in higher education.

That’s why we help organize and protect the faculty voice, and why we’re proud to see our ranks growing in Oregon. The new AAUP union chapter at Oregon Tech will represent 180 full-time faculty members, on and off the tenure track. The faculty aims to strengthen shared governance and to establish a legally enforceable contract with respect to working conditions, pay, and benefits.

United Academics of Oregon State University will be comprised of more than 2,400 members. As a faculty union jointly affiliated with the AAUP and the American Federation of Teachers, United Academics seeks to strengthen shared governance, improve working conditions, and create the best possible environment for teaching, learning, research, and outreach.

We warmly welcome these new members to the AAUP! If you’re active on social media, you can help us welcome them by sharing the news on Facebook or Twitter.

The AAUP


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.