AAUP@FHSU


AAUP to support federal student loan relief efforts

We continue our efforts to fight the student debt crisis, this time in court. The AAUP joined the American Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees in filing an amicus brief this week in the US Supreme Court in support of the Biden administration’s efforts to grant much-needed relief to individuals holding student loan debt. Our brief argues that a plan announced by the secretary of education in August 2022 to partially forgive student loans for certain eligible borrowers is a lawful exercise of authority granted by Congress.

In the brief, we stress in particular the financial challenges that the pandemic has created for college and university faculty who hold student loan debt. Drawing on several individual accounts and AAUP reports, the brief explains that the pandemic “has deepened the already substantial financial hardships and employment instability of adjuncts and other university faculty.”

A longer summary and a link to the full brief can be found here.

The court challenges arose last year after the Department of Education granted up to $10,000 in student-loan relief to eligible borrowers with annual incomes under $125,000, and $20,000 to qualifying Pell Grant recipients. Following the Biden Administration’s announcement of this new plan, six Republican-led states filed a lawsuit seeking to stop its implementation. A federal district court dismissed the lawsuit after finding that the states lacked standing to sue, but a federal appeals court revived the lawsuit and has temporarily enjoined the plan’s implementation pending a final decision on appeal. The Biden administration has sought further review in the Supreme Court, which has agreed to hear arguments in the case on February 28.

We will update you as the legal situation develops, and will continue to push for more actions and policies that alleviate student debt in ways that move us towards a more just and equitable society.

Risa Lieberwitz, AAUP General Counsel


2022 AAUP Highlights

To roll us into the new year on a high note, we’ve created a video with some highlights of the AAUP’s work in 2022—from the special report Governance, Academic Freedom, and Institutional Racism in the University of North Carolina System to major research projects like the annual Faculty Compensation Survey—and of the AAUP’s affiliation with the American Federation of Teachers.  

Watch the recap on YouTube here or click photo watch.

Screenshot from the AAUP highlights video

Thank you for being a member of the AAUP! You can find links to all of our reports and other materials on our website at aaup.org.

In solidarity in 2023 and beyond.

The AAUP

P.S. A reminder that you can continue to follow our work in 2023 in many ways. We have new episodes of our podcast AAUP Presents out, so catch up on all episodes and subscribe on your favorite podcast platform now. We’re also on the major social media platforms: we’re @AAUP on Twitter, and here’s the link to our Facebook account. Our Instagram account is @AAUPNational.


Stronger Together: The AAUP-AFT Affiliation

This day after Labor Day, in addition to celebrating and appreciating all workers, we celebrate the just-finalized historic alliance between the AAUP and the American Federation of Teachers. Now, together, we represent more higher education workers than any other union. Our game-changing partnership brings together AAUP’s academic expertise and AFT’s power and reach, and creates a movement with the strength of hundreds of thousands of higher education workers. Together, we will be stronger in our work to dismantle systemic racism and fight white supremacy; we vow to bring a racial equity lens to all aspects of all of our work. Together, we will be more effective at beating back outrageous legislative intrusions into the academy—intrusions that obliterate the academic freedom needed for effective teaching, research and free inquiry. Together, we will be united in our efforts to ensure that higher education plays its essential role as a public good in a democracy.

Because our affiliation builds on our successful joint organizing work, we anticipate bringing even more academic workers into our movement, and we anticipate being able to disseminate AAUP’s essential work on academic freedom and shared governance more broadly throughout the higher education community. We will be working together to organize a more powerful academic labor movement around our principles on campuses, in statehouses, and in Congress.

This has been one of the most invigorating summers of our careers, beginning in June when delegates voted overwhelmingly to ratify the affiliation agreement at the June 2022 Biennial Association Meeting, and continuing into July with the signing of the agreement at the AFT convention to thunderous applause and digital fireworks. Now, as we start the new academic year, we get to work as partners protecting higher education, demanding that higher ed lives up to its promise for everyone. We’ll be fighting with you and for you. It’s an exciting time and we have never been stronger.

In solidarity,
Irene Mulvey, AAUP President
Randi Weingarten, AFT President

Irene Mulvey and Randi Weingarten holding an AAUP Redbook
  AAUP-AFT Alliance f2022


AAUP/AFT solidarity

In September 2021, we announced that the AAUP and the American Federation of Teachers were exploring ways to expand and enhance our very successful ten-plus-year organizing partnership.

We are incredibly proud of the work that AAUP and AFT have done together to organize faculty and graduate employees around the US and to strengthen higher education and the profession. As a result of our partnership, more than twenty thousand faculty and other academic workers are in unions that are jointly represented by the AAUP and the AFT. In addition, we have worked together on important legislative efforts at the federal and state level to expand access to higher education, ensure adequate funding for public institutions, increase Pell grants, and expand academic workers’ right to unionize. AAUP members are already being included in planned student loan debt clinics run by AFT higher ed staff, and AFT members have had the opportunity to attend our Summer Institutes. Since last fall, we’ve been discussing how to best build on our successful organizing work, support our shared commitment to education and the common good, and build a stronger and more inclusive higher education movement.

We don’t believe it’s an exaggeration to say that democracy is hanging on by a thread right now, and a strong higher education movement is part of what’s needed to salvage and strengthen our democracy. In the few months since we started exploring possibilities for affiliation, the attacks on higher education and the common good have increased. Educational gag order legislation aimed at curtailing academic freedom has been introduced in thirty-eight states. We see administrations acquiescing to pressure from governing boards and state legislatures on fundamental issues such as academic freedom, faculty shared governance, and due process. We see state systems launching full assaults on tenure.

At the same time, we see a renewed interest in organizing to confront these challenges among faculty and other academic workers. On campuses where unionization is possible, we see faculty forming organizing committees and starting union campaigns. We also see a renewed interest in building and strengthening advocacy chapters as a vehicle for campus change. The ongoing challenges facing higher education and this renewed interest in organizing underscore the need for solidarity—with our colleagues and within our own organization, to be sure, but also with other organizations and with the academic labor movement as a whole. This affiliation will help all of us—AAUP and AFT Higher Education members together—achieve this.

Sincerely,

Irene Mulvey, President
Paul Davis, Vice President
Chris Sinclair, Secretary-Treasurer

Coming to a classroom near you? GETTY


Educational Gag Orders – January Update

We’re a month into state legislative sessions, and there’s a lot happening around educational gag orders. Here are some of the highlights.

Seventy-one educational gag orders have now been introduced in twenty-three states. Thirty of those bills specifically target higher education, with nearly half including punitive measures of some kind—allowing faculty members to be fired, reducing or eliminating funding either for “prohibited” programs or for the entire institution, or allowing monetary damages to be awarded to claimants who file successful lawsuits against an institution or faculty member. AAUP’s EGO Dashboard provides an overview of state legislation, including a list of upcoming hearings. The dashboard updates in real-time, so bookmark it in your browser and check it often!

Some AAUP state conferences and chapters are already taking action against these censorship bills. The Kentucky conference has joined a broader coalition that held a rally on January 12 to protest the bills that have been introduced there. The event received significant press coverage. And in Missouri and Alabama, we’re exploring opportunities to work with coalitions that are very active in fighting back.

At the national level, the AAUP is part of a working group that aims to develop state-level coalitions so that our organizations can fight back together. Other members of the working group include the National Education Association, American Federation of Teachers, American Civil Liberties Union, African American Policy Forum, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and the National Center for Youth Law.

In addition to our defensive efforts, we’re going on offense where possible. We’ve drafted a legislative resolution in support of academic freedom and accurate teaching on race and racism, and are talking with conference leaders in several states where there’s a strong possibility of getting it introduced.

We’ll send another update at the end of February, so be sure to check your inboxes!

If you have questions about anything, would like more information, or would like help in your state, please contact me at slamore@aaup.org.

In Solidarity,

Stephanie Lamore, AAUP Government Relations