AAUP@FHSU

Getty Images


July 9 COVID-19 Update

This week marked the kickoff of our Summer Institute Online, with webinars focusing on issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. We hope you join! Read on for more on SI Online, our new statement on shared governance during times of crisis, and how you can take action now to urge Congress to fund aid to states and higher education.

Summer Institute Online

The AAUP Summer Institute Online is now underway. Join hundreds of AAUP members from around the country in our special series of training webinars focused specifically on the challenges facing higher education today. Running through August 4, the virtual summer institute features two webinars each week. Our 90-minute sessions will cover a wide range of topics, from campus decisions about reopening to supporting student protests to pushing back against austerity budgets. In addition, hour-long breakout sessions after the governance and organizing webinars will provide a special opportunity for smaller groups of attendees to brainstorm about how to apply the guidance to their chapter’s circumstances. There is also a special plenary panel that will highlight the experiences of frontline health-care providers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

You can view the complete schedule and register for these webinars today.

Principles of Academic Governance during the COVID-19 Pandemic

The AAUP Committee on College and University Governance has released a new statement affirming the principles of academic governance in the face of growing concern over unilateral actions taken by governing boards and administrations during the pandemic. “During this challenging time,” the statement reads, “the committee calls upon administrations and governing boards, in demonstrated commitment to principles of shared governance, to maintain transparency, engage in ‘joint effort,’ and honor the faculty’s decision-making responsibility for academic and faculty personnel matters as the most effective means of weathering the current crisis.”

You can read the full statement here.

Send a Letter to Your Member of Congress

Many of our states and communities continue to face mounting and very serious financial shortfalls as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The ability of states to provide adequate funding for higher education and other public goods will be dependent upon the inclusion of relief for state and local governments in the next federal stimulus package. If you haven’t already, you can to write to your US congressional representative and your senators and urge them to include relief for state and local governments in the next stimulus package. Here’s the link to send a letter now.

We’ll be in touch with another COVID-19 update in August. Stay strong, stay safe.

In solidarity,
Julie Schmid
Executive Director, AAUP


Principles on Academic Governance during the COVID-19 Pandemic

The AAUP Committee on College and University Governance has released a new statement affirming the principles of academic governance in the face of growing concern over unilateral actions taken by governing boards and administrations during the pandemic. “During this challenging time,” the statement reads, “the committee calls upon administrations and governing boards, in demonstrated commitment to principles of shared governance, to maintain transparency, engage in ‘joint effort,’ and honor the faculty’s decision-making responsibility for academic and faculty personnel matters as the most effective means of weathering the current crisis.”

For more context on the statement, join Michael DeCesare, chair of the AAUP’s Committee on College and University Governance and professor of sociology at Merrimack College, for a brief Facebook livestream tomorrow, June 30th.

The stream will go live on our Facebook page (accessed through this link) at 1 p.m. Eastern Time. It will also be posted on our website with the statement after it concludes.

The statement stresses that the fundamental principles and standards of academic governance set forth in the AAUP’s Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities remain applicable even in the current crisis. It reinforces the key principle articulated in the Statement on Government, that the faculty has “primary responsibility” for decisions related to academic matters, including “curriculum, subject matter and methods of instruction, research, faculty status, and those aspects of student life which relate to the educational process.” It further notes that, “even in areas in which the faculty does not exercise primary authority—such as whether and how to reopen campus, budgetary matters, and long-range planning—the faculty still has the right, under widely observed principles of academic governance, to participate meaningfully. No important institutional decision should be made unilaterally by administrations or governing boards.” The statement also observes that administrations or governing boards should not “suspend provisions of faculty handbooks or collective bargaining agreements in reaction to the COVID-19 crisis by invoking ‘force majeure,’ ‘act of God,’ ‘extraordinary circumstances,’ or the like.”

To read the full statement, visit our website.

In solidarity,
The AAUP


AAUP issues statement on racial justice

As the ongoing demonstrations of the past few weeks have shown, our nation is once again being called on to reckon with systemic racism and its impact on Black, Latinx, indigenous, and other people of color. Black lives matter, and the AAUP stands in solidarity with all those who are protesting racism and police brutality. We stand ready to support faculty, academic professionals, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and all those engaged in teaching and research in higher education whose affiliated institutions take or threaten to take negative action against them as a result of their exercising their right to protest. We recognize that our BIPOC members and colleagues are considerably more vulnerable when they exercise this right, and, as such, are most in need of support and protection. We call on our chapters, our members, and campus administrations to stand firm in their support of members of the campus community who speak out in the name of anti-racism and racial justice, and we offer the following guidance and recommendations.

Freedom of extramural speech, including comments made by faculty outside the classroom and on social media, is essential to the American conception of academic freedom that the AAUP has played a central role in defining and refining. All members of the academic community have a responsibility to defend academic freedom and freedom of speech and assembly.

Calls for civility and campus speech codes have the potential to restrict extramural speech of faculty. These calls are often deployed against faculty of color, and faculty of color are more likely to be disciplined for “uncivil” behavior. As we recognize in our statement On Freedom of Expression and Campus Speech Codes, “offensive style or opprobrious phrases may in fact have been chosen precisely for their expressive power.” Faculty must not be disciplined for engaging in “uncivil” or “offensive” speech.

In the current political climate, faculty who engage in protest are more likely than ever to face targeted online harassment as a result of their activities—harassment that, again, disproportionately targets non-white faculty. Institutions must recommit to the defense of academic freedom and institutional autonomy, which includes protecting the institution from undue public interference. We call on administrations and governing boards, in particular, to condemn targeted harassment and intimidation and to reject calls for dismissal or suspension of faculty members who have exercised their right to protest.

We further recognize that in the current political climate, Black studies, Latinx studies, indigenous studies, and other ethnic studies programs are especially vulnerable to political interference, including cuts to funding and program elimination. Threats to these programs have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis. We call on our chapters, our members, and campus administrations to defend these programs from cuts and undue interference and to affirm the importance of programs that challenge systemic racism to fulfilling higher education’s fundamental contribution to the common good.

To access a digital version of the statement, visit our website.

Thank you,

The AAUP


Significant Supreme Court Decisions

We want to highlight two significant and startlingly positive Supreme Court decisions that came out this week with important implications for many faculty and students—and for higher education in general. In both cases the AAUP joined an amicus brief for the prevailing side.

In Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, et al., the Supreme Court ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects gay and transgender workers due to its prohibition of discrimination based on sex. The ruling allows employees discriminated against based on their sexual orientation or transgender status to sue. While questions remain about the rights of religious employers and practical details such as bathrooms and locker rooms, the court emphatically states that “employers are prohibited from firing employees on the basis of homosexuality or transgender status.” Read a summary of the decision and amicus brief.

In Department of Homeland Security et al. v. Regents of the University of California et al., the Supreme Court blocked the current administration’s attempts to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The DACA program allows undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children to remain in the country legally and expands access to higher education by providing eligibility for in-state tuition and state-funded grants and loans to participants. However, the ruling leaves open the possibility that this administration may try again to eliminate DACA. As the court states, “The dispute before the Court is not whether DHS may rescind DACA. All parties agree that it may. The dispute is instead primarily about the procedure the agency followed in doing so.” Read a summary of the decision and amicus brief.

The AAUP applauds these rulings and believes they provide critical support for members of the AAUP community and the students it serves. We emphatically support protections against discrimination, and our legal work reflects our commitment to promoting diversity, tolerance, and openness on university campuses.

The AAUP


Statement on Protests in Response to the Murder of George Floyd

The murder of George Floyd by four police officers in Minneapolis has unleashed a massive protest movement across the country. These protests, led by young people, are revealing years of pent-up frustration with racism and inequality. The militarization of policing in the United States and the unchecked violence perpetrated against communities of color by police who continue to act with seeming impunity, along with the promotion of white supremacy by the Trump administration, had created a combustible mix even before the COVID-19 pandemic added to an existing medical crisis and economic desperation, especially in marginalized communities of color.

Many have said that we need to have a conversation about racism and inequality. But a conversation is not enough. What we need is bold action to deal with institutional racism and inequality. While the lack of meaningful preparation for the pandemic has disrupted the lives of all Americans, the more long-standing lack of a meaningful response to endemic racism and inequality has compounded the impact of the pandemic on communities of color.

Clearly, looting and the destruction of property need to be condemned. But we also need to condemn the fact that only one of the four police officers involved in the murder of George Floyd has been arrested and recognize that Floyd’s death is just one more example of the senseless loss of an African American life at the hands of police. The actions of police across the country are enabled by political leaders who have failed to deal with institutional racism and inequality, and they also must be held accountable.

The AAUP supports the right of all citizens to engage in peaceful protests and calls for an end to police violence against protesters. We also recognize that our institutions of higher education have been part of the problem, but they can be part of the solution by marshaling the expertise of faculty and the energy of students in developing meaningful approaches to mitigating racism and inequality in our society.