Wednesday, June 20, 2018

AAUP Censures University of Nebraska–Lincoln at Annual Meeting

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln (UNL) was placed on the AAUP’s list of censured administrations by a unanimous vote today at the AAUP annual meeting in Arlington, VA. Doctoral student Courtney Lawton had been removed as a teacher without a hearing after she publicly criticized and protested a student doing on-campus recruiting for Turning Point USA. The University administration claimed that because Lawton continued to be paid, there was no violation of her rights or academic freedom, a position that the AAUP rejected. The chancellor at UNL had announced, “she will not teach at our university going forward because of [her] inappropriate behavior.”

The AAUP also removed Stillman College from its censure list after working with the institution to revise its policies and practices. And the University of Iowa was removed from the list of sanctioned institutions for violations of academic governance standards.

The membership passed a resolution expressing support for contingent and part-time faculty. This year’s Annual Conference also included a wide range of speakers, primarily on the theme of free speech on campus, and a keynote address by Nancy MacLean, author of Democracy in Chains. You can watch the AAUP’s Facebook live discussions with selected speakers.

The AAUP’s membership (as of 5/24/18) was 41,742, an increase of 1.2% from a year ago. The fastest-growing section of the AAUP are the non-union members at advocacy chapters, which grew to 9,970, up 5.6% from the previous year.
The AAUP is in a strong financial position, but the upcoming Janus ruling by the Supreme Court later this month creates enormous stress and uncertainty by threatening the 11,000 fee-paying non-members at AAUP unionized chapters. Total revenue for the combined AAUP organization was $8.7 million in 2017 revenue, nearly $1 million more than 2015, with expenses in 2017 of $7.3 million. AAUP president Rudy Fichtenbaum declared, “If it were not for the impending Janus decision, I believe that by 2020 the AAUP would be a $10 million organization.” He said, “We’ve tried to build up some reserves” because of Janus so that the AAUP would “not be forced to take any abrupt actions to deal with revenue shortfalls.”
Janus has already had a serious impact on the AAUP by causing budget cuts. The position of faculty editor for Academe magazine was eliminated, as was the development director for the AAUP Foundation.
In his presidential address, Fichtenbaum declared, “We do not have to stand by and watch our profession…be destroyed by super-rich corporations and right-wing organizations. We can fight back.” He said, “If we fold, our fate is certain. Even if we fight, there are no guarantees. But we have a chance.”
Fichtenbaum claimed, “If we don’t get involved in politics, we will be unable to stop the people attacking academic freedom, collective bargaining, and shared governance.” He added, “You can stand together. That is the lesson of the West Virginia teachers’ strike.” Fichtenbaum argued, “We need to act collectively. We need to organize a union."

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