AAUP Denounces Decision to End DACA Program

AAUP president Rudy Fichtenbaum released this statement yesterday in response to President Trump’s decision to eliminate the DACA program.

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AAUP Issues Statement on Threats Against Faculty

The AAUP has issued the following petition condemning threats against faculty members. Add your name by clicking here.

We are dismayed that another faculty member, John Eric Williams of Trinity College, has become the target of a flood of threats following reports about his social media postings by the right-wing media outlet Campus Reform. In this case, the college was shut down for a day so that law enforcement officials could investigate threats to the college and to the faculty member. This is the second time this month that an institution of higher education has had to close down in response to threats, disrupting education and creating an environment of fear on campus.

We condemn the practice, becoming all too common, of bombarding faculty members and institutions of higher education with threats. When one disagrees with statements made by others, threats of violence are not the appropriate response. Such threatening messages are likely to stifle free expression and cause faculty and others on campus to self-censor so as to avoid being subjected to similar treatment. Targeted online harassment is a threat to academic freedom.

We support and stand with our colleagues and campus communities whose academic freedom is threatened. The free exchange of ideas is incompatible with an atmosphere of fear.

“I Was a Threat Because I Wouldn’t Be Quiet”

The AAUP has issued the following press release:

An investigative report released today by the American Association of University Professors concludes that the administration of Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky, summarily dismissed Erlene Grise-Owens, a long-serving professor of social work, in blatant violation of academic freedom and due process. An AAUP investigating committee visited Louisville and interviewed Professor Grise-Owens and other current and former Spalding faculty members. Members of the Spalding administration declined to meet with the committee.

The report finds that Spalding’s administration abruptly terminated Professor Grise-Owens’s tenured appointment because she criticized the administration’s handling of an incident involving a student who brought a gun to a campus parking lot, showed it to a fellow student, and said, “I am tired of these people f–cking with me.” The social work school’s chair immediately alerted social work faculty about the incident—except the school’s three faculty members of color, even though the student was scheduled to attend class with one of them the next day.

Professor Grise-Owens and two other faculty members formally complained to the administration about its failure to notify the faculty members of color about the incident. After the administration dismissed their complaint as groundless, they brought it in person to the faculty senate. Soon after their meeting with the senate, Professor Grise-Owens received notice of dismissal, which lacked any reference to her procedural rights. Following the administration’s action, the other two faculty members resigned, one stating, “I cannot be part of such a system, and I will not be part of a system that continuously models disparity between principles and actions and in so doing puts my life and the lives of my students in harm’s way.” The investigating committee found that Grise-Owens was dismissed for “speaking out against institutional policies and practices she deemed inadequate” or as one faculty member put it, for “doing what all tenured faculty should do” and “being connected to the marginalized voices.”

The AAUP conducts investigations annually in a few select cases in which faculty members allege that severe departures from widely accepted academic standards have occurred and persist despite efforts to achieve an appropriate resolution. In academic freedom and tenure cases, the AAUP may place an institution on its list of censured administrations. The censure list informs the academic community and the public at large that conditions for academic freedom and tenure at the institution are unsound.

Read the report here.