AAUP@FHSU


Redefinitions of Anti-Semitism and Racism?

We issued a statement today condemning recent political attempts to restrict teaching that critically examines the history and policies of the state of Israel and the United States. In the first case, legislation redefines antisemitism to include political criticism of the state of Israel. In the second, legislation redefines critical analysis of the history of slavery and its legacies in US society as being itself racially discriminatory against whites. In both cases these draconian initiatives paint robust academic inquiry as dangerous and contradict the purpose of higher education to serve the common good.

Such legislation imposes extreme unjustified restrictions on faculty speech and academic freedom. “While the growth of antisemitism is a severe threat, it can and should be addressed under existing civil rights laws as religious or race discrimination,” the statement reads. “These new laws, however, expand the definition of antisemitism to encompass political speech.” Such overbroad definitions, as in a 2019 Florida law, “constitute a state-imposed orthodoxy that prohibits or discourages faculty members and students from engaging in academic work that may question the state’s positions on Israel or Zionism.” Similarly, legislative restrictions on curriculum about race and racism in the US constitute political interference designed to curb critical analysis and free inquiry about the history and nature of systemic racism.

The AAUP urges the defeat of these legislative initiatives and others like them in order to protect the academic freedom that is vital to the preservation of democracy.

The full statement: Legislative Threats to Academic Freedom: Redefinitions of Antisemitism and Racism, can be found here.

In solidarity,
Charles Toombs, San Diego State University
Chair of AAUP’s committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure (Committee A)


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


Demand Support for Public Higher Education

Over the past two months, it has become clear that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on our states, our communities, and our campuses will be profound. As states grapple with the cost of fighting the pandemic, we are seeing significant cuts in state funding for higher education. In many states, these cuts come on the heels of decades of austerity measures that have already eroded our institutions’ academic missions and our ability to truly serve the common good. We have seen boards and administrations seize upon this crisis to subvert faculty involvement in decision-making and institute sweeping changes, such as academic restructuring, program discontinuance, and layoffs of faculty and staff at campuses in Ohio, Wisconsin, and Arkansas, to name a few.

When I wrote you on March 10, when the threat posed by the spread of the coronavirus in the United States was becoming apparent, I stated, “It is hard to know what the ultimate impact of COVID-19 will be on our campuses. The administration should provide the appropriate faculty body—the union or the governance body—with information regarding the impact of COVID-19 on enrollments, revenues, and hiring and renewals.” We must hold our governing boards and administrations to this standard as our campuses face very challenging financial choices. I urge you and your colleagues to work through your AAUP chapter, your governance body, and—where applicable—your faculty union to demand full transparency and full faculty involvement. I also urge you to stand in solidarity with faculty colleagues in contingent positions, graduate employees, and campus staff, many of whom are facing reduced appointments or layoffs.

We must also communicate with our elected representatives in Congress and call on them to support higher education and other vital public services. Many of our states and communities face serious financial shortfalls as a result of the pandemic. The ability of states to provide adequate funding for higher education and other public goods will be dependent upon the inclusion of relief for state and local governments in the next federal stimulus package. Please write to your US congressional representative and your senators and urge them to include relief for state and local governments in the next stimulus package.

The AAUP will continue to defend our members, our chapters, and the profession and will continue to provide webinars and guidance on all aspects of this crisis. We ask that chapters continue to share information with us about what is being done on their campuses and what the chapter or faculty senate’s role has been in decision-making related to COVID-19.

In solidarity,
Rudy Fichtenbaum
AAUP President


The Latest Data on the Faculty Workforce

The AAUP has taken a look at the latest data on the faculty workforce. We looked at overall trends and broke out data on tenure-track faculty, full-time non-tenure-track faculty, part-time faculty, and graduate student instructors at different types of institutions.

To read the full report, click here.

At its best, the tenure system is a big tent, designed to unite a diverse faculty within a system of common professional values, standards, rights, and responsibilities. Tenure protects academic freedom by insulating faculty from the whims and biases of administrators, legislators, and donors, and provides the security that enables faculty to speak truth to power and contribute to the common good through teaching, research, and service activities.

But increasingly, US colleges and universities are hiring faculty outside the tenure system, into less secure positions that generally lack adequate institutional support and are often very poorly compensated. As you can see in the chart below, at all US institutions combined, the percentage of instructional positions that is off the tenure track amounted to 73 percent in 2016, the latest year for which data are available.

Graph of faculty breakdown

While faculty members in contingent positions are often highly qualified and dedicated teachers, they are not given adequate institutional support. And by definition, contingent faculty lack protections for academic freedom.

The trend toward increased contingency among faculty is troubling and it is why AAUP remains an advocate for tenure and the protections it provides, while also working on many levels to improve conditions for faculty working in contingent positions. To dive deeper into the data, read our full report here.

The AAUP


Liberal Arts Matter: Sign On to the Statement

We stand for the protection of liberal arts education.

This week the AAUP issued a statement jointly with Association of American Colleges and Universities calling for the protection of the liberal arts disciplines.

This comes at a time when politicians have proposed linking tuition to the alleged market value of given majors. Students majoring in literature, art, philosophy, and history are routinely considered unemployable in the technology and information economy, despite the fact that employers in that economy strenuously argue that liberal arts majors make great tech-sector workers precisely because they are trained to think critically and creatively, and to adapt to unforeseen circumstances.

We strongly believe that higher education serves the common good — and that education is much more than narrow vocational training and should seek to enhance students’ capacities for lifelong learning.

To read the full statement, click here.

The AAUP