AAUP@FHSU


AAUP Files Brief in Case Involving Harassment of Climate Scientists

The AAUP yesterday submitted an amicus brief in support of faculty members who have been subjected to intrusive public records requests for e-mails related to their climate-science research. The AAUP brief, filed with the Arizona Court of Appeals in the case Energy & Environment Legal Institute v. Arizona Board of Regents, argues that the academic freedom to conduct research is essential to a vital university system and to the common good and that this warrants protecting certain research records from disclosure.

The case arose from an extensive public records request that was made by the Energy & Environment Legal Institute, which uses public records requests in a campaign against climate science. In similar past cases, AAUP briefs have been key to court decisions rejecting the requests.

In this case, E & E submitted public records requests that targeted two University of Arizona faculty members, climate researchers Malcolm Hughes and Jonathan Overpeck. E & E counsel said the suit was intended to “put false science on trial” and E & E vowed to “keep peppering universities around the country with similar requests under state open records laws.”

The current brief urges courts to “consider the best interests of the state to maintain a free and vital university system, which depends on the protection of academic freedom to engage in the free and open scientific debate necessary to create high-quality academic research. Where the requests seek prepublication communications and other unpublished academic research materials, as in the case at bar, compelled disclosure would have a severe chilling effect on intellectual debate among researchers and scientists.”

We’ll update you on future developments and the continuing legal work of the AAUP. Do you want to support AAUP’s legal work? Donate to the Legal Defense Fund of the AAUP Foundation.

Best,
Aaron Nisenson,
Senior Counsel, AAUP


AAUP Annual Conference Registration

This year’s Annual Conference on the State of Higher Education conference marks fifty years since the AAUP and four other groups issued a Joint Statement on Rights and Freedoms of Students. Many issues covered in the statement are as pertinent now as they were in 1967, and a series of sessions at this year’s conference will take a closer look at topics ranging from student activism in the 1960s to free speech issues on campus today.

Thanks to support from the AAUP Foundation, we will offer a screening of A Time to Stir, a documentary about the 1968 student protests at Columbia University. Film excerpts will be followed by a panel discussion with filmmaker Paul Cronin, historian Ellen Schrecker, journalist Juan González, and AAUP first vice president Henry Reichman.

Learn more or register.

You won’t want to miss Ibram X. Kendi’s plenary address; Kendi, assistant professor of African American history at the University of Florida and winner of the 2016 National Book Award for Nonfiction, will discuss his book Stamped from the Beginning: A Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America.

At our Saturday luncheon, we will honor Harry Keyishian in commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the 1967 US Supreme Court case Keyishian v. Board of Regents. In this landmark case, the Court ruled against New York’s loyalty oath for public employees and established academic freedom as a “special concern” of the First Amendment.

Learn more or register.

As always, the conference encompasses important Association business meetings and events. At Capitol Hill Day on Thursday, AAUP members will form state delegations and visit their elected representatives to lobby on issues of importance to higher education. As part of Capitol Hill Day, AAUP members will deliver a letter of support for the College for All Act, which would make four-year public college free for families making less than $125,000 and community college free for all.

Saturday will be the AAUP’s Annual Meeting, a gathering at which delegates carry out responsibilities specified in the AAUP Constitution. One of the most important of those responsibilities is the imposition and removal of censure. Censure results from the Association’s findings that conditions for academic freedom and tenure are unsatisfactory at a college or university and its removal is a sign of an institution’s academic health and of the continuing vitality of the principles and standards to which it has committed itself.

I hope to see you in June!

Gwendolyn Bradley
Director of External Relations


A Target on Her Back

Hundreds of vituperative emails. Threatening phone calls to my home. Hate mail that arrived both at work and at home—it was overwhelming.

That was my first brush with a right-wing maelstrom of anger at an extra credit opportunity I offered to students in my freshman English class in 2015.  My son returned from a deployment in Afghanistan only to find his mother under attack, with campus police walking me to my car after my night classes, and the chair of my department and my dean getting phone calls demanding that I be fired.

My offense was offering extra credit for students to attend—as protesters, observers, or participants—and write about a rally featuring both Democrats and Republicans on the state’s plan to cut funding for the Wisconsin university system. The hate mail and the calls diminished after a time, but the uneasiness remained.

Late last year, it all started up again. With the dubious distinction of being one of the first professors to be named to the Professor Watchlist, there I was again—with my name and email address in the public eye along with a brief description of my crime (no more factual than its initial appearance online).

When I returned to class this semester, my place on the watchlist came with me in a multitude of ways. Speculating whether students in my classroom know I’m on the Watchlist. Wondering whether they believe what they’ve read or heard. Looking over my shoulder as I walk to my car after a night class. Feeling just a little nervous about being in my office when there’s no one else on my floor.

While I didn’t at first take much notice of the AAUP’s online petition of support for professors on the Watchlist, when I saw that over 10,000 had signed it in the first couple of weeks—that was amazing.

That support and the clarity of mission in fighting to ensure that faculty have a voice and protections for academic freedom are why I’m an AAUP member.

Donate to the AAUP Foundation and support the fight for academic freedom.

We need to keep our message to students, to fellow faculty, to administrators, and to the public consistent and strong. Education is about learning. It’s about being exposed to new ideas. It’s about debating openly and without fear. Watchlists be damned.

Beth L. Lueck
Professor of English,
University of Wisconsin, Whitewater