President’s Column: First they came for the workers… Why we cannot remain silent

Posted by  AAUP Oregon   in       Feb 16, 2016     1734 Views     Comments Off on President’s Column: First they came for the workers… Why we cannot remain silent  

by José Padín, President, AAUP-OR

testfeatureA quick scan of the news at American colleges and universities shows just how precarious faculty rights, shared governance, and academic freedom can be. They cannot be taken for granted.

To my mind, ongoing news reports bear two clear conclusions:

  1. Where faculty lack collective bargaining rights, their tenure and academic due process rights are also weak — troublingly so. Owing to a fateful 1980 Supreme Court decision, faculty (other than adjunct faculty) at  private colleges and universities lack collective bargaining rights. (See the news from Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, below).
  1. Where collective bargaining rights are attacked, attacks on tenure, shared governance, and academic due process soon follow (See Wisconsin, below)

Here is a recent sampling of the news. In each of these recent violations, our national AAUP stood up for our colleagues.

Maryland — University “Loyalty” Pledges?

A tenured faculty member who served as student group advisor was fired for “disloyalty” to the university, ostensibly, for not censoring an article in the student newspaper critical of the president.

Colorado —First Amendment Rights

A university administration tramples the First Amendment rights of an academic in response to articles critical of administration-faculty pay disparities and critical of the treatment of faculty on adjunct contracts.

Missouri — Suspension without Academic Due Process

Faculty member Melissa Click was suspended, without academic due process, without evidence, pending investigation into allegations about comments she made about student journalists. AAUP norms (adopted by academic regulations and collective bargaining agreements at many universities, including this one) allow suspensions “only if immediate harm to the faculty member or others is threatened by continuance.”

Illinois — Academic Freedom Trumped

At the Christian Wheaton College, an Associate Professor was forced to resign for expressing agreement with the view that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.

Wisconsin — First they came for the workers, then for academics…

In the Badger State, the administration of Gov. Walker first went after collective bargaining rights, and has followed up with policies to gut tenure, academic due process, and shared governance.

With great foresight, in the 1960s, fifty years after its founding, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) identified faculty unionization as a critically effective tool for the protection of academic freedom, academic due process, and shared governance.

It is of utmost importance that we — professors and academic professionals —remain aware of how the fates of our universities, our professions, of academic quality, academic freedom, academic due process, and collective bargaining are closely connected, aware of our civic role to remain active in their defense.




The Oregon State Conference of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP Oregon) is the state-level organization of the AAUP. The Conference’s mission is to advance the collective interests of affiliated AAUP Collective Bargaining and Advocacy chapters, the principles and practices of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), and the overall interests of higher education faculty in Oregon through the promotion of excellence in higher education as an investment in Oregon’s future.