American Association of University Professors
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Release date: 6/17/05
For more information, contact:
Julie Schmid or Jonathan Knight.

Faculty Association Speaks Out on Three Top Issues

Washington, D.C.—In Washington, D.C. last Saturday, the annual meeting of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) adopted resolutions on three issues of concern to faculty and others in the academic community. The resolutions address the right of graduate student employees to choose representation by a collective bargaining agent, concern over increased attacks on the academic freedom of teachers and scholars across the nation, and the teaching of evolution.

Graduate Student Employee Bargaining at Columbia University and Yale University: The American Association of University Professors reaffirms its support for the right of graduate student employees to choose representation by a collective bargaining agent. Graduate student employees at Columbia University and Yale University have expressed their desire for representation respectively by GSEU/UAW and GESO/UNITE HERE.

This Annual Meeting deplores the refusal of these—and any—university administrations to recognize the right of their graduate student employees to choose collective bargaining. This Annual Meeting also condemns the statements put forward by the Columbia University administration in a February 2005 memorandum indicating that graduate student employees could face loss of financial support and other injury were they to strike for recognition.

While all campus constituencies have the right to express their opinions on such matters, threats and reprisals for union activism are unacceptable in principle, potentially censurable, and are a violation of federal labor law on any campus where it is applicable. The very act of issuing intimidating proposals such as those in the Columbia memorandum can have a serious chilling effect on both speech and action on campus. The Ninety-first Annual Meeting of the American Association of University Professors urges the administrations of Columbia University and Yale University to withdraw these damaging positions and to accept the right of their graduate student employees to bargain collectively and to negotiate in good faith with them.

For more information on this resolution, please contact Julie Schmid at 202-737-5900, ext. 3038.

Attacks on Academic Freedom and the Independence of Colleges and Universities: The Ninety-first Annual Meeting of the American Association of University Professors expresses its deep concern over increased attacks on the academic freedom of teachers and scholars across the nation and the resulting threat these attacks pose to the tradition of institutional independence in American higher education. Individuals and groups outside the academic community, among them state officials, members of Congress, and candidates for political office, are, with increasing frequency, invoking an alleged political or ideological bias within the academic profession as the rationale for involving themselves with the substance of academic decisions and with the content of curriculum and teaching that have been traditionally and appropriately determined by members of the academic community. In some instances, these attacks have been marked by reprehensible tactics of intimidation and harassment.

This Meeting takes special notice of so-called academic bills of rights that have been introduced in at least one-fourth of state legislatures. These bills would, in effect, replace academic standards with political criteria for determining whether the faculty of a college or university is fostering a plurality of perspectives. Even when the pressures for them do not result in the passage of undesirable legislation, they represent a gratuitous and irresponsible disrespect for faculties in higher education and for the immense contribution they make to the betterment of our national life.

This interference in activities intrinsic to the academic community is anathema to this Association and to society at large, which can only benefit when academic freedom is preserved.

For more information about this resolution, please contact Jonathan Knight at 202-737-5900, ext. 3023.

Teaching Evolution: The theory of evolution is all but universally accepted in the community of scholars and has contributed immeasurably to our understanding of the natural world. The Ninety-first Annual Meeting of the American Association of University Professors deplores efforts in local communities and by some state legislators to require teachers in public schools to treat evolution as merely a hypothesis or speculation, untested and unsubstantiated by the methods of science, and to require them to make students aware of an "intelligent-design hypothesis" to account for the origins of life. These initiatives not only violate the academic freedom of public school teachers, but can deny students an understanding of the overwhelming scientific consensus regarding evolution.

The implications of these efforts for higher education are particularly troubling to this Meeting. To the degree that college and university faculty in the field of biology would be required to offer instruction about evolution and the origins of life that complied with these restrictions and was at variance with their own understanding of scientific evidence, their freedom to determine what may be taught and how would be seriously abridged.

This Meeting calls on local communities and state officials to reject proposals that seek to suppress discussion of evolution in our public schools as inimical to principles of academic freedom.

For more information about this resolution, please contact Jonathan Knight at 202-737-5900, ext. 3023.

The American Association of University Professors is a nonprofit charitable and educational organization that promotes academic freedom by supporting tenure, academic due process, and standards of quality in higher education. The AAUP has about 45,000 members at colleges and universities throughout the United States.


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