AAUP@FHSU


AAUP issues statement on racial justice

As the ongoing demonstrations of the past few weeks have shown, our nation is once again being called on to reckon with systemic racism and its impact on Black, Latinx, indigenous, and other people of color. Black lives matter, and the AAUP stands in solidarity with all those who are protesting racism and police brutality. We stand ready to support faculty, academic professionals, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and all those engaged in teaching and research in higher education whose affiliated institutions take or threaten to take negative action against them as a result of their exercising their right to protest. We recognize that our BIPOC members and colleagues are considerably more vulnerable when they exercise this right, and, as such, are most in need of support and protection. We call on our chapters, our members, and campus administrations to stand firm in their support of members of the campus community who speak out in the name of anti-racism and racial justice, and we offer the following guidance and recommendations.

Freedom of extramural speech, including comments made by faculty outside the classroom and on social media, is essential to the American conception of academic freedom that the AAUP has played a central role in defining and refining. All members of the academic community have a responsibility to defend academic freedom and freedom of speech and assembly.

Calls for civility and campus speech codes have the potential to restrict extramural speech of faculty. These calls are often deployed against faculty of color, and faculty of color are more likely to be disciplined for “uncivil” behavior. As we recognize in our statement On Freedom of Expression and Campus Speech Codes, “offensive style or opprobrious phrases may in fact have been chosen precisely for their expressive power.” Faculty must not be disciplined for engaging in “uncivil” or “offensive” speech.

In the current political climate, faculty who engage in protest are more likely than ever to face targeted online harassment as a result of their activities—harassment that, again, disproportionately targets non-white faculty. Institutions must recommit to the defense of academic freedom and institutional autonomy, which includes protecting the institution from undue public interference. We call on administrations and governing boards, in particular, to condemn targeted harassment and intimidation and to reject calls for dismissal or suspension of faculty members who have exercised their right to protest.

We further recognize that in the current political climate, Black studies, Latinx studies, indigenous studies, and other ethnic studies programs are especially vulnerable to political interference, including cuts to funding and program elimination. Threats to these programs have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis. We call on our chapters, our members, and campus administrations to defend these programs from cuts and undue interference and to affirm the importance of programs that challenge systemic racism to fulfilling higher education’s fundamental contribution to the common good.

To access a digital version of the statement, visit our website.

Thank you,

The AAUP


I Was a Target

Last summer, the right-wing website Campus Reform misrepresented social media postings that I made, leading to a barrage of online and voicemail threats against me and others at my institution, Trinity College in Connecticut. Like other faculty who have been threatened and harassed this year, I was targeted over remarks I made that drew attention to racism. The threats were so severe that I feared for my safety and that of my family.

I expected administrators at my school to defend academic freedom against the right-wing outrage machine that is targeting faculty across the country. Instead, they placed me on involuntary leave and publicly criticized my comments, as if the threat was coming from me.

Fortunately, the AAUP was there. The AAUP chapter on my campus and a large group of other colleagues signed a statement noting that the decision to place me on leave was a clear violation of AAUP standards. Chapter leaders consulted with the national AAUP, which urged the Trinity administration to reinstate me. Ultimately, the administration acknowledged that my posts were protected by academic freedom, noting 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.”

Now more than ever, we need an organization that exists to protect academic freedom, and that stands up against targeted harassment of faculty. Thank you for being there.

Regards,

Johnny Williams
Professor of Sociology at Trinity College


AAUP Statement Regarding Charlottesville

Our hearts broke this weekend as we watched expressions of racism, anti-Semitism, and hatred on the University of Virginia campus result in violence. We are especially saddened by the death of one activist and the wounding of others. Expressions of racism and hatred paired with violent actions are not new in our country. Our history shows that marchers armed with guns and sticks, carrying shields and torches, and chanting Nazi slogans have but one purpose: to strike fear and terror in the hearts of people of color, immigrants, Jews, Muslims, and all who believe in a more inclusive America.

To remain silent in the face of hatred is to be complicit in that hatred. Therefore, we will not remain silent while white supremacists, emboldened by the rhetoric of the Trump administration, perpetrate violence and incite bigotry. After equivocating, the President has finally denounced the KKK, the Nazis, and other white supremacist groups. But he and his administration must do more. We call on the Trump administration to use all of the forces at its disposal to bring to justice those involved in fomenting violence and terror. Further, we call on the President and his administration to denounce all attempts to equate nonviolent protests like Black Lives Matter with violent hate groups.

We decry the violence, the discrimination, and the attempts to intimidate, silence, and harm our students, educators, and community members. We reject racism and white supremacy. We stand with students, educators, their families, and communities across the country working for equitable and welcoming environments where it is safe to exist, learn, and peacefully disagree and debate. We will work with faculty members, students, and college leaders, uniting and organizing with allies and in our communities to resist hate and fight for a just society.

Rudy Fichtenbaum, AAUP president
Henry Reichman, AAUP first vice president