August 23, 2014

Scrolling Headlines:

UMass crime alerts reveal reports of lewd acts -

Friday, August 22, 2014

UMass women’s soccer hopes added depth brings more consistency in 2014 -

Friday, August 22, 2014

UMass mourns death of alumnus and journalist James Foley -

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Kassan Messiah, Trey Seals to shoulder pass rushing responsibility for UMass football -

Thursday, August 21, 2014

UMass names Blake Frohnapfel as the starting quarterback -

Monday, August 18, 2014

Decision looms for Mark Whipple as UMass football looks to name starting quarterback -

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Former UMass star Marcel Shipp overseeing a strong running back competition -

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Former UMass basketball star Chaz Williams signs professional contract in Turkey, still eyeing NBA career -

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Minutemen anxious to display aggressive defense -

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

UMass football turns the page, excited for 2014 season -

Monday, August 4, 2014

UMass student struck and killed by vehicle Thursday night -

Friday, August 1, 2014

UMass receives anonymous $10.3 million gift -

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

UMass football summer coverage 2014 -

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Chiarelli: Sam Koch’s impact evident in those who knew him best -

Monday, July 21, 2014

Longtime UMass men’s soccer coach Sam Koch dies after two-year battle with sinus cancer -

Monday, July 21, 2014

Southwest evacuated after gas leak -

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

UMass Rowing finishes NCAA Championships, ends year ranked No. 21 in the nation -

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Two UMass basketball alums to compete for a lofty prize in The Basketball Tournament -

Friday, May 23, 2014

Commencement Photos 2014 -

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Two arrested in relation to series of vandalism -

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

AAUP campaign calls for faculty to “speak up” for rights

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) claims that academic freedom on college campuses is under attack as never before. A campaign called “Speak Up, Speak Out: Protect the faculty voice” was launched in November 2009 amid court decisions thought to restrict the freedom of speech of faculty members who had spoken up against their institution.

According to the AAUP the new threat to academic freedom stems from a Supreme Court case in 2006. In the case Garcetti v. Ceballos, an assistant district attorney sued his supervisors for demoting and transferring him after he complained about alleged misconduct in one of his cases.

According to the AAUP website, the ruling stated that public employees were not protected when speaking on matters pursuant to their official duties, but added an exception for expression related to academic scholarship or classroom instruction.

The AAUP maintains that this court decision affected decisions in lower courts, dealing with cases between faculty and the administration of their college or university. The “Speak Up, Speak Out” campaign suggests that faculty advocate for policy changes at college campuses to better protect the academic freedoms of faculty members.

Rachel Levinson, senior counsel at the AAUP, pointed out what she feels is a threat to academic freedom.

“At both public and private institutions, faculty have an opportunity, and an obligation, to help define and shore up their own institutions’ academic freedom policies,” Levinson said, “including by revising handbook or contract language and by organizing colleagues to speak out in one voice against policies or practices that impinge on academic freedom.”

“One of the most serious threats to academic freedom today is the sharp decline in tenure-track positions and the increase in use of contingent faculty,” said Levinson. “Without the security of employment that tenure provides. Faculties are less and less likely to speak out on controversial issues, engage in controversial research, or challenge administrative decisions and priorities, to the detriment of students, the university community, and the public as a whole.”

John Brigham, professor of political science and co-vice president for the Massachusetts Society of Professors, echoes the sentiment that the faculty voice is important to universities.

“The faculties are at universities longer than Chancellors,” said Brigham. According to Brigham, the faculty helps to maintain the culture of the university.

However, Brigham does not see a need to change policy at the University of Massachusetts, citing that members of the UMass faculty are not afraid of losing their positions over disagreements with the administration.

“The Supreme Court isn’t the best place for free speech,” said Brigham, who maintained that the best place to advocate for free speech is at the local level.

Brigham used the example of last semester’s panel discussion “The Great Western Massachusetts Sedition Trial: 20 Years Later,” when the members of the UMass faculty invited a controversial speaker to UMass. The administration, although publicly disagreeing with the decision, felt they had no power to stop the members of faculty from inviting the speaker. The speech did happen on Nov. 12, but without the speaker, Ray Luc Levasseur, who was eventually restricted from entering the state by the U.S. parole board.

The AAUP is not associated with the MSP.

Levinson maintains that while academic freedom may not be the most critical problem at UMass, the issue should be relevant to the campus.

According to the AAUP, faculty input is vital to the well-being of places of higher education and the community at large.

“The ability of the public, legislators, and others to engage in informed analysis and decision-making is vastly enhanced when faculty are able to share their expertise with the public and the community,” said Levinson. “Indeed, faculty are often in the best position to bring a new or alternate perspective to public debates without (we hope) fear of reprisal.”

Levinson spoke of the outside pressure on public institutions of higher education.

“Public universities are often subject to more public and political scrutiny, in large part because of their public funding,” said Levinson.

However, Levinson does not feel that this outside pressure should determine the way in which a public university operates.

“Faculty at public universities are protected by the First Amendment,” said Levinson, “but as we have seen, courts are drastically narrowing those protections.”

The AAUP website outlines cases where they feel that academic freedom has been encroached upon.

The “Speak Up, Speak Out,” campaign plans to continue its campaign through 2010.

Bobby Hitt can be reached at rhitt@student.umass.edu

Comments
One Response to “AAUP campaign calls for faculty to “speak up” for rights”
  1. Robin West says:

    This is so much politically motivated propaganda by an organization that has abandoned its founding principles and sold its soul to the devil of liberalism and its agenda.

    I recently completed my dissertation, An Analysis of Faculty Perspectives on the Theory and Practice of Academic Freedom, which examined this very issue. I did my preliminary research; I read numerous articles just like this one, claiming that academic freedom was under attack like never before; that academic freedom, as Walter Metzger stated way back in 1955, hangs by a “slender thread.” Based on my literature review I formed my theses, created my survey, did my statistical analysis and WOW was shocked. The faculty in my sample were nearly unanimous in there belief that academic freedom was not under attack; that it did not hang by a thread, and the theoretical underpinnings of academic freedom pretty well matched what they experienced in practice.

    I could go on but leave it to say that the AAUP is being driven by an agenda that seeks a level of autonomy for professors that was never intended by the concept of academic freedom. Academic freedom has always had parameters; it has never, nor should it ever be considered an absolute professorial liberty.

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