Saturday, June 14, 2008

AAUP Censures University of New Haven Over Adjunct Firing

Today, the AAUP voted to censure the University of New Haven for arbitrarily firing a long-term adjunct instructor. The AAUP's unanimous vote for censure was a victory for academic standards as well as contingent faculty.

As one AAUP member noted, "it is a very chilling story" about "a lecturer who had a real pattern of excellence" but faced the dilemma of upholding "standards vs. keeping students as customers happy."

There were nine informal complaints over seven years by students who missed classes and committed plagiarism. The worst accusation made against the instructor was that she made a comment in class that a student was going to be dropped for missing five weeks of class.

The job insecurity of adjunct instructors is one of the biggest factors threatening grade inflation and academic freedom. So long as administrators can freely dismiss faculty who cause trouble by enforcing high expectations of their students, the pressure will be on faculty to raise grades, let plagiarism slide, and reduce student workloads. The AAUP has taken one small step in opposing this trend, and it deserves strong support.

The AAUP also passed resolutions opposing enforcement of loyalty oaths, state-imposed laws promoting creationism, opposing state laws requiring guns to be allowed on campuses, and criticizing the government of Iran (for discriminating against Baha'i students) and will vote in an hour on a resolution criticizing Israel (for restricting academic studies by students in Gaza).

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