AAUP@FHSU


AAUP Censures University System of Georgia

At its meeting today, the governing Council of the AAUP voted to censure the University System of Georgia (USG) for the unilateral action of its administration and governing board to remove the protections of tenure and academic freedom from the system’s post-tenure review policy.

Last October the USG board of regents adopted changes to the system’s post-tenure review policy that make it possible to fire tenured faculty members without affording them a dismissal hearing. The move was condemned by the AAUP for effectively abolishing tenure in Georgia’s public colleges and universities in flagrant violation of long established principles of academic freedom and tenure that have been endorsed by more than 250 higher education organizations.

The principal purpose of tenure is to safeguard academic freedom, which is necessary for all who teach and conduct research in higher education. When faculty members can lose their positions because of their speech, publications, or research findings, they cannot properly fulfill their core responsibilities to advance and transmit knowledge. In service of the common good, tenure allows faculty members to pursue research and innovation and to draw evidence-based conclusions free from corporate, religious, or political pressure.

The AAUP released a report in December emphasizing the magnitude and singularity of the USG’s attack on tenure and academic freedom, which affects more than 5,800 tenured faculty members in twenty-five colleges and universities and confers on the University System of Georgia the dubious distinction of being the only system of public higher education to take such a radical action in nearly fifty years.

In censuring USG, the Council acted on the recommendation of the Association’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure.

We call upon the USG regents to rescind the changes to the post-tenure review policy so that essential academic freedom is protected.

Learn more about AAUP censure or read this announcement on the web.


How has two years without student debt affected you?

The past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic have been challenging ones for American higher education. And, given how 2022 has started, we have many more fights ahead of us to protect faculty and quality education.

There is one bright spot. The pause on federal student loan repayment has given Americans much-needed breathing room as the pandemic threatens livelihoods and economic recovery. Let’s keep it going. Join with our partners at the Debt Collective, and tell President Biden to cancel student debt today.

We’ve heard from borrowers what this pause on federal student loan repayment has meant for them. The student debt crisis is part and parcel of the faculty labor crisis, and adjunctification has made it more difficult for faculty to pay back their loans. Beyond faculty, we all know staff whose hours were reduced or eliminated, students who graduated into a turbulent job market, or friends and family who are struggling to pay the bills in a time of high inflation. Imagine what a world without student debt would look like!

I recently talked about the student debt crisis on our podcast, AAUP Presents, with AAUP Pennsylvania state conference president Jessica Sponsler. You can listen to that here.

While there are some promising signs that the Biden administration may fix the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program and hold bad loan servicers accountable, more needs to be done. At the very least, we need another extension of the repayment pause while student loan reforms are implemented. Beyond that, our leaders need to clear out student debt and chart a path toward free college for all. Sign on to a letter to President Biden today, telling him to cancel student debt.

Thanks for taking action.

Onwards,
Kaitlyn Vitez, AAUP Government Relations

Graphic of AAUP Presents podcast with link to episode.


Educational Gag Orders: February Update

Opposition to educational gag orders (EGOs) has really ramped up over the last month. Here are some of the highlights:

University of South Carolina (U of SC) faculty showed up in force to a state committee hearing where educational gag orders were the only bills on the agenda. Several U of SC faculty members gave testimony, speaking strongly against these censorship bills. Our coalition partners at ACLU SC and NAACP Legal Defense Fund gave testimony as well. When all was said and done, the ratio of “opposed” to “in favor” testimony was more than four-to-one.

In Indiana, a hearing on HB 1134 drew over two hundred people, who showed up to voice their opposition to the proposed educational censorship. The state House committee chamber was so packed that several people were unable to get inside. The Indiana Senate has pulled its version of the EGO, and the House version, though still active, has been significantly watered down. There’s consensus among members of our education coalition that continued pressure on Indiana lawmakers could successfully defeat the bill.

Missouri’s coalition is continuing to apply pressure, culminating in a lobby day that’s planned for March 3. The sole focus will be that state’s educational gag orders. There’s currently an effort among some legislators to combine several of the bills (Missouri has over a dozen) into one omnibus and remove the most extreme language. It’s a step in the right direction, but we’ll continue working to defeat the bills outright.

Those are just three examples of the groundswell of opposition we’re seeing across the country. Members of the education community, along with concerned parents and students, are speaking out against educational gag orders in Wisconsin, Georgia, Alabama, West Virginia, and New York—to name just a few of the places where we’re seeing increased resistance.

For a list of all the active bills we’re tracking, visit our Educational Gag Orders dashboard. And don’t forget to check out our EGO landing page to access our draft op-ed, model legislative resolution, and other resources.

In solidarity,

Stephanie Lamore, AAUP Government Relations


AAUP President Condemns HBCU Bomb Threats

Bomb threats frighten people, intimidate communities, and disrupt daily life with the threat of violence. When a bomb threat is made at one of our historically Black colleges and universities, it becomes the latest entry in a long and shameful history of incidents of violence and racial terror that have resulted in the systemic and persistent racial inequity we see in US society today. The AAUP condemns the racial terrorism perpetuated by the numerous bomb threats at over a dozen HBCUs in the last several weeks.

Fear and intimidation have no place on a college campus, and this is especially true when it comes to our faculty colleagues and the students, administration, and staff at America’s HBCUs. We are inspired by their resilience but acknowledge the heavy burden that comes with being targeted routinely because of your race. The AAUP will continue to work towards dismantling systemic and institutional racism in our own organization and in higher education. We stand in solidarity with our HBCU colleagues in demanding and working toward a more just society, and in celebrating Black excellence all year long.

You can find this statement on the AAUP website here.

In solidarity,
Irene Mulvey, AAUP President


Working With the Faculty Senate to Fight Educational Gag Orders

State legislatures across the nation have passed legislation barring the teaching of “divisive concepts.” In some states, this legislation excludes teaching about race and gender at the university level. Faculty senates at Michigan State, Portland State, DePaul University, Molloy College, and the Universities of Alabama, Colorado, Delaware, Minnesota, and Oregon have all passed resolutions defending academic freedom and rejecting such educational gag orders.

We’re pleased to offer a webinar on faculty senate resolutions on behalf of our coalition partners at the African American Policy Forum. Please join in a discussion on Thursday, February 17, at 1 p.m. ET, about the importance of these resolutions to the preservation of education and why institutions of higher education need to commit to ideologically free classrooms.

Two members of the African American Policy Forum, DePaul University professor Valerie Johnson and Portland State professor Jennifer Ruth (who also serves on the AAUP’s Committee A), will lead the webinar and answer questions about how to use shared governance to fight back against this assault on academic freedom. Resources to pursue the resolution campaign on your campus will be provided.

Register at https://www.aaup.org/event/webinar-using-faculty-senate-fight-educational-gag-orders.

Best wishes,
Gwendolyn Bradley, AAUP Senior Program Officer