AAUP@FHSU


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


One Faculty, One Resistance

After last November’s election, we expressed our concern about unique threats posed by the new administration to core institutions of our democracy and to academic freedom. In the months since, we have seen these threats begin to unfold.

Faculty members are being targeted and harassed, the freedom to join together on the job is in jeopardy, and producers of independent thought and knowledge, including faculty, scientists, and journalists, are threatened. The academic year has begun with a spate of racist incidents on campus, another travel ban aimed primarily at Muslims, the decision to end the DACA program that grants residency to many of our students, and, just last Thursday, a decision by the Supreme Court to take up a case that could strip workers in unions of rights.

We believe that democracy thrives on dissent, critical inquiry, free speech, and free research. And that means that we must do more than witness these events; we must resist them.

That’s why we invite you to check out our One Faculty, One Resistance campaign.

The AAUP is the voice of the profession. As such, we’ve been speaking up for academic freedom for more than 100 years. And in these troubled times, we’re doing it with renewed urgency and vigor.

We’ve created a central space for our campaigns and materials related to these threats– materials to help you fight against targeted harassment of faculty and for the right to teach and conduct research freely, and to resist political interference and litmus tests in higher education.

Take a look around and share news of the campaign! A powerful resistance requires collective action and voice. Click here to share.

Graphic of the website

We’ll be in touch soon.

Rudy Fichtenbaum
President, AAUP


Action against the “travel ban” and a win for science

One of the things your membership supports is our work in the courts to protect academic freedom. I’m writing today to update you on recent legal developments.

Last night the AAUP joined with the American Council on Education and other higher education groups in an amicus brief to the US Supreme Court opposing the Trump administration’s travel ban. We argue that people from the six countries identified in the ban should not be barred or deterred from entering the United States and contributing to our colleges and universities.

As the brief notes, the ban has caused specific harm to higher education. From the moment the executive order containing the ban was signed, recruits were deterred from accepting faculty positions in the United States. Some scholars have pulled out of academic conferences here, either because they were directly affected by the ban or because they were concerned about its impact.

In the brief, we emphasize the international exchange of scholarly work, and explain how the ban “jeopardizes the vital contributions made by foreign students, scholars, and faculty by telling the world in the starkest terms that American colleges and universities are no longer receptive to them.”

The amicus brief is part of the AAUP’s continued work to combat the chilling effects that the administration’s border policies are having on faculty and higher education. We are also looking into legal issues related to a regulation that authorizes border patrol officers to search a traveler’s electronic devices at the borders without any basis for suspicion. In conjunction with the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, we are seeking information from affected faculty members; if you have had an experience of this kind, please read more and submit information here.

Another facet of our legal work involves defending scientists against a campaign of harassment being carried out by a group that opposes climate science and has stated that it intends to “keep peppering universities around the country” with requests for climate science research records. On Friday, we got some good news as the Arizona Court of Appeals rejected attempts by this group to use public records requests to compel two University of Arizona faculty members to release emails related to their research.

In an amicus brief in support of the scientists, the AAUP had argued that state statute creates an exemption to public release of records for academic research records, and that a general statutory exemption protecting records when in the best interests of the state, in particular, the state’s interest in academic freedom, should have been considered. The appeals court agreed. Read more here.

Lastly, I’d like to take a minute to thank you for standing with the AAUP.  In busy times like this, it is important to remember that members like you make this work and our victories possible.

Regards,
Aaron Nisenson
AAUP Senior Counsel

P.S. Please consider supporting the legal defense of higher education through a donation to the AAUP’s Foundation’s Legal Defense Fund.


Victory at Trinity College

In a victory for academic freedom, the administration of Trinity College in Connecticut acknowledged today that Professor Johnny Williams’s social media posts “were protected by academic freedom and did not violate Trinity College policies.”

The administration observed that “Our understanding of academic freedom in America today is rooted largely in a joint statement from 1940 by the American Association of University Professors and the Association of American Colleges that asserted the fundamental importance of academic freedom for the common good and the advancement of truth.”

Williams had been placed on involuntary leave after reports on the website Campus Reform about his posts were followed by threats and the closure of the campus. The administration’s statement notes that “the initial report by Campus Reform led to distortions and an ensuing harassment that has become troublingly common for people of color and those who speak out on issues of race and racism.”

The AAUP had urged the Trinity administration to lift Williams’s suspension and planned to send a committee of inquiry to visit Trinity on July 20. With the resolution of this case, our further intervention is no longer warranted. Professor Williams has agreed to remain on a leave of absence through the fall semester.

We applaud the excellent work of our local chapter at Trinity College, which organized expressions of solidarity and opposition to the administration’s actions.

The AAUP


Letter to the president of Trinity College

The AAUP has written a letter to the president of Trinity College, urging her to immediately reinstate Professor Johnny Eric Williams to his normal faculty duties after the institution placed him on leave on Monday. Professor Williams, an associate professor of sociology with twenty-one years of service at Trinity College, was the target of a flood of threats following reports about his social media postings by the right-wing media outlet Campus Reform.

Read the full letter from the AAUP here.

The AAUP has long held that academic freedom includes the freedom to address the larger community with regard to any matter of social, political, economic, or other interest without institutional discipline or restraint, save in response to fundamental violations of professional ethics or statements that suggest disciplinary incompetence. The AAUP is concerned that the administration’s actions may have violated Professor Williams’s academic freedom. It also appears that the action taken against Professor Williams is entirely at odds with normative standards of academic due process.

The case of Professor Williams comes at a time of heightened targeted harassment of faculty. We condemn the practice of bombarding faculty members and institutions of higher education with threats. Such threatening messages are likely to stifle free expression and cause faculty and others on campus to self-censor so as to avoid being subjected to similar treatment.

Sign the AAUP’s statement against targeted harassment of faculty now.

The AAUP