AAUP@FHSU


National Security, the Assault on Science, and Academic Freedom

A new AAUP report out today details troubling threats to academic freedom in the physical and natural sciences that have been exacerbated by the Trump administration’s hostility to science. One focus of the report is international scientific exchange and, especially, the repeated charging of innocent Chinese or Chinese American scientists with espionage in the name of national security. Another is climate science, which has been subject to vicious attacks that have intensified significantly under the current administration.  

The report’s survey of recent criminal cases involving international scientific exchange suggests that the government’s invocation of national security claims related to espionage has not been justified and is negatively affecting the ability of the United States to participate in global science.

President Trump’s executive orders restricting entry to the United States for residents of certain Muslim-majority countries and efforts to limit H-1B visas to foreign scientists pose additional, disturbing threats to scientific exchange.

The report explores how the politicization of science, rooted in anti-intellectualism and propelled by anti-elitist mantras, is constraining the free pursuit of knowledge and scientific inquiry and limiting the ability of science to serve the public good.

Learn more or read the full report here.

Best wishes,
Gwendolyn Bradley, 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


Tax Bill Makes Higher Ed Unaffordable: Sign the Petition

Will you join us in telling Congress not to make higher education unaffordable by taxing tuition waivers and eliminating the Student Loan Interest Deduction?

H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, if enacted as written, will have a severe negative impact on students and higher education in the US.

Tell 15 key members of Congress to protect students and vote no on the tax bill.

The legislation would repeal provisions exempting from taxation tuition waivers for campus employees and graduate students, causing a devastating tax increase for thousands and making it impossible for some to continue their studies.

The legislation would also repeal the current Student Loan Interest Deduction, causing an increased cost of roughly $24 billion to student borrowers over the next decade.

Sign the petition now. We’ll deliver it to the 15 members of Congress before the vote.

The AAUP


Scary Stats on Contingency: Campus Equity Week is Here

Contingent appointments now account for over 70 percent of all instructional staff appointments in American higher education. The term “contingent faculty” includes both part- and full-time non-tenure-track faculty and graduate employees. The common link? Colleges and universities make little commitment to or investment in faculty in such positions, choosing instead to treat them as an expendable and temporary workforce, even faculty who have worked for decades at the same institution.

As Campus Equity Week kicks off, help shine a light on the increasingly precarious nature of academic work in our higher education system.

Many people don’t know that

  • A large number of faculty in so-called “part-time” positions actually teach the equivalent of a full-time course load, often commuting between institutions and preparing courses on a grueling timetable, making enormous sacrifices to maintain interaction with their students.
  • Since faculty classified as part-time are typically paid by the course, without benefits, many college teachers lack access to health insurance and retirement plans.
  • Academic freedom is in jeopardy when a majority of the faculty lack the protections of tenure and may not be reappointed over any complaint.

We believe that all types of faculty should have access to the protections of academic freedom and tenure, just compensation, due process protections, and inclusion in institutional governance.

Here’s what you can do today:

A group of tenured, tenure-track, and contingent faculty is circulating an open letter to the editors of U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges Ranking system proposing that the magazine consider adjusting the “faculty resources” section of the rankings in order to reflect more accurately current academic realities. Add your name to the letter here.

Spread the word. Click the graphic to share it on Facebook and spread the word about contingency. (Prefer Twitter? Click here to tweet.)

Graphic for Facebook

You can also check out our CEW 2017 resources on our One Faculty, One Resistance campaign page.  

To a great week for campus equity!

The AAUP

P.S. Want to print the graphic? Click here to download it.


Take Action: Protect the University of Wisconsin

A series of actions taken by Governor Scott Walker, the Wisconsin state legislature, and the University of Wisconsin system board of regents over the past few years represent a concerted attack on the university as a public good.

Will you tell the Wisconsin system board of regents to protect the university system?

Taken together, the actions constitute a brazen partisan assault on the Wisconsin Idea, the century-old notion that public higher education is a common good. In 2011, legislation curtailed the system faculty’s rights to negotiate collectively. In 2015, the legislature severely weakened tenure, shared governance, and due process—and, by extension, academic freedom.

This fall, another series of attacks is underway. Without meaningful faculty input, the board recently approved an anti-free-speech proposal allowing for the expulsion of students for “disrupting the free speech of others.” It announced a plan to merge the system’s two- and four-year institutions. And it changed the procedures governing searches for chancellors and presidents.  Right now, there is a bill before the state legislature that would abolish a partnership that allowed university employees to work and train students at Planned Parenthood.

Please add your name to protect higher education for the common good.

The 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.