Dear FA Members,
Greetings from the FA Board. We hope that your quarter is off to a reasonable start and wish to update you on our activities and some important issues.
First, elections to the FA Executive Board. According to our updated bylaws, we hold annual elections in the spring for two-year term appointments to the board (1 July-30 June). Starting now and up until May 10th, we are soliciting nominations to fill at least two open positions. If you are a member, you can either nominate yourself or any member. As the bylaws specify, “Any member in good standing, who is nominated by a member in good standing, and has agreed to run, will be a candidate.” By May 15th, the Board will circulate the names of candidates along with electronic ballots via the electronic list serve of the Association’s general membership.
Second, we held a successful open forum on Academic Freedom and Shared Governance on March 9th. Our speaker was Hank Reichman, Professor Emeritus of History at CSU, East Bay and the first Vice President and Chair of the Committee on Academic Freedom of the AAUP. He highlighted some general principles of the AAUP that pertain to academic freedom and then outlined some of the major challenges to them occurring in the nation and at UC. Please visit our website for a more extensive summary of his talk, but a few of the issues raised included:
- Some national challenges to academic freedom include adjunctification, in which faculty must operate without the protection of tenure; governing boards that conduct secret searches for new administration members with little transparency; growing political interference in academic issues in legislation; boards using an institution’s financial difficulty as an excuse to reorganize curriculum to their goals; and debates surrounding civility and political correctness, including trigger warnings, across the nation.
- AAUP Principles governing academic freedom (in teaching, research, and extramural utterances) are based not so much on the first amendment right to free speech as on professionalism–i.e., what the profession defines as the principles that inform its practices (analogous to doctors, lawyers, etc.). This makes even clearer that decisions regarding tenure, termination, program closures, and so forth must have significant faculty input.
- Faculty need to protest trends toward managerialism and increasing concentration of power in governing bodies outside of the faculty. (see Michael Meranze’s post regarding “managerial disconnect” on our website). The increasing emphasis on confidentiality when serving on certain committees and/or devising their reports is a related issue. Thus, we wish to underscore that faculty appointed to Senate committees cannot represent the interests of faculty if they cannot report to them. Almost nothing about those proceedings should be confidential other than details of personnel cases.
- A useful guide to the issue of trigger warnings is this: you have the right to warn students about certain readings or topics on your syllabus, but no one else has the right to tell you to do so.
- FA and/or other bodies might want to look into the rationale for, and consequences of, the present assignment of intellectual property of faculty. Any new employee has to sign his or her patentable research to the university. There is some evidence that those who refuse are not supported in their searches for grants.
Third, during the winter quarter we attended to the following matters:
- SBFA and CUCFA sent written objections to the proposed pension plan, objections that were disregarded by President Napolitano as evident in the final document forwarded to the Regents and adopted by them at the March 23rd meeting. To continue voicing its objection to the introduction of wider differentials between faculty and staff pension options, CUCFA is supporting the “union lobby day on pension issues,” organized by AFSCME and other members of the UC Union Coalition with which CUCFA collaborates, to be held at the Capitol on April 20th.
- CUCFA sent a letter to the UC Regents reiterating its concerns regarding the Principles against Intolerance. At the Regents’ meeting, the regents voted to revise the Preamble to read: “Anti-Semitism, anti-semitic forms of anti-Zionism, and other forms of discrimination have no place at the University of California” (as opposed to “Anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism, and other forms of discrimination have no place at the University of California”)–in our view, a partia,l but insufficient improvement. Read the CUCFA letter and Judith Butler’s statement here andhere.
- SBFA supported the “Fight for Five” proposed strike of CSU faculty scheduled to occur on 13-15 and 18-19 April, a strike which was averted by a last-minute settlement with the CSU administration that met the union’s demand. Read our statement here.
Stay tuned for updates and discussions of issues as they unfold. And remember to nominate candidates for election to the Board. As always, we encourage non-members to become members of the Faculty Association and of the AAUP by accessing the membership form(s) here.
UCSB Faculty Association Executive Board
Jorge Luis Castillo