In this issue:
Graduate Students Join AAUP at University of Minnesota P. 1
Successful Annual Meeting held at St. Catherine’s P. 2
Call for Nominations for the 2005 Robert E. Sloan Award P. 2
New Editor for State Newsletter P. 2
How to Apply to the State Legal Defense Fund P.2
Excerpts from “Tenure at Ground Zero” P. 3
Graduate Students Join AAUP at University of Minnesota
Graduate students are joining the AAUP at the University of Minnesota. The students have formed a caucus within the local AAUP chapter. The effort to recruit and organize graduate students as part of an AAUP advocacy chapter is the first of its kind in the country. Organizing efforts began last fall. Caucus organizers held their kick-off public event on March 4 with over 100 graduate students attending a dinner. Julie Schmid of the national AAUP office was the keynote speaker at the dinner. The caucus now has a constitution and elected leaders. The graduate students plan on continuing to work hard next year to publicize the AAUP and recruit graduate students to the organization. For more information please contact the president of the caucus, Jeremy Nienow at email@example.com. Also, if you know graduate students at the University, please urge them to contact Jeremy and join the AAUP. As a consequence of the recruitment at the University, state membership has grown by 13% this year.
Visit the new state conference web site at www.mnaaup.org for contact information, useful links to other sites, and information on membership and events!
The state conference annual meeting was held at the College of St. Catherine on Wednesday, January 28. Over 30 AAUP members attended to hear the talk by Dr. Cary Nelson, Vice President of the National AAUP. Dr. Nelson, the author of Manifesto of a Tenured Radical, talked on “Tenure at Ground Zero: Academic Freedom after September 11th.” In addition to Dr. Nelson’s talk, a short business meeting was held which included a report from the state Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure and a discussion of the conference lobbying campaign. Excerpts of the talk are on page 3.
Call for Nominations for the 2005 Robert E. Sloan Award
The Robert E. Sloan award for Outstanding Contributions to Academic Freedom is given annually to one or more current or former AAUP members who have made a significant personal contribution in support of academic freedom and shared governance. The contributions may have been made either recently or over a longer term. The award is named in recognition of Bob Sloan’s sustained commitment to the goals of the AAUP and his important contributions in support of academic freedom and shared governance. The award is presented at the state conference annual meeting held in the late fall.
Please help us identify worthy recipients for this award! Send nominations to Dr. Marsha Blumenthal (firstname.lastname@example.org). All nominations should include your name, your institutional address and e-mail. Please provide a brief description of the contributions that you believe make your nominee an appropriate candidate for this award. ALL NOMINATIONS MUST BE RECEIVED BY NOVEMBER 1, 2004.
New Editor for State Newsletter
Eric Wiertelak of Macalester College has volunteered to be the state newsletter editor of the state conference. Eric is currently the state conference webmaster and will begin his duties as editor with the next issue of Minnesota Academe. If you have any information or news for Eric about local AAUP activities, events, or developments on your campus, please feel free to contact Eric at Wiertelak@macalester.edu. THANKS ERIC.
How to Apply to the State AAUP Legal Defense Fund
The State conference legal defense fund has three thousand dollars available to members or chapters needing legal counsel. The maximum grant is $1,500 per chapter and $1,000 per individual. To apply for a grant from the legal defense fund, simply contact the conference president Michael Livingston at email@example.com. During the last academic year the fund awarded a grant of $750 to the St. Olaf AAUP chapter so that they could hire legal counsel to examine their faculty handbook.
Excerpts from “Tenure at Ground Zero” by Cary Nelson
The following are excerpts from Cary Nelson’s address to the Minnesota AAUP annual meeting on January 28, 2004. The text of his talk is too long for us to reproduce it here.
Although there have been a few direct assaults on tenure in recent years—Minnesota being the prime example—every AAUP activist now knows that the main threat to tenure is attrition, not assault. The massive shift t reliance on part-time faculty means that thousands of people teaching with PhD’s no longer have the job security that had underwritten the professoriate’s relative intellectual freedom for decades. We have returned to the late nineteenth, early twentieth century model of at-will faculty employment. And thousands of faculty are thus subject to summary dismissal for violating community political consensus in their speech. Meanwhile, the reign of terror and insecurity that characterizes so many part-timer’s lives has led some of them to resent not only tenured faculty members’ salaries and job security but also the principle of tenure itself.
[A] mix of national, regional, and local activism and organizing is now critical to sustaining a viable level of academic freedom. The national AAUP is essential to several missions: (1) articulating a series of universal principles and re-articulating them to new economic and administrative arrangements as needed; (2) negotiating individual complaints with campuses and seeking to overturn unethical or unprofessional acts by campus administrators; (3) taking on a limited number of high profile cases for full scale investigations and censuring administrations as necessary. The organization’s resources, however, are stretched thin, and it can only do a few full scale investigations with campus visits each year. It cannot on its own handle a nationwide assault on academic freedom. Campus faculties need to be prepared to stand firm, and vulnerable campuses need to be able to rely on support from state AAUP conferences.
Already there have been glimmers of what could happen under the right pressures. Such assaults on academic freedom might begin at schools with less faculty autonomy. In 2002 a dean at Middletown Community College questioned whether a faculty member had the right to discuss the events of September 11 in a sociology class. After all, September 11 was not listed in the course description as one of the anticipated topics. Plus, this was the semester after September 11… In spring 2003 the academic vice-president at Irvine Valley College warned faculty members they should not discuss the war in Iraq “unless it can be demonstrated, to the satisfaction of this office, that such discussions are directly related to approved instructional requirements and materials associated with those classes.” After a faculty protest, the administration said it did not want to ban such discussions but rather to “define the proper context” for them. Whatever that means, it is clear the ambiguous space opened up between the AAUP’s 1940 statement and its clarifying footnote leaves too much room for both administrative and peer restrictions on and punishment of faculty speech. Some faculty might feel their resolve to exercise their free speech rights strengthened by such incidents, especially if they have tenure. Others, especially part-timers, might experience the notorious “chilling effect.” They might be will advised to act in just that way.
Visit us at our new website <http://www.mnaaup.org> or contact one of the state executive committee members listed here.
President: Michael Livingston, St. John’s University
firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 320-363-3369
email@example.com or phone 651-690-6559
Past President: Marsha Blumenthal, University of St. Thomas
firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 651-962-5678
Treasurer: Dave Emery, St. Olaf College
email@example.com or phone 507-646-3139
You may wish to contact the Minnesota Conference Committee A on academic freedom by getting in touch with the chair of the committee, Dr. Wayne Wolsey:
Dr. Wayne C. Wolsey
1600 Grand Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55105
The conference website (www.mnaaup.org) contains more information about Committee A.
Use the National AAUP website for information on national events, publications, services, and membership: http://www.aaup.org. You may also call the national office at 202-737-5900 or toll free at 800-424-2973.