FA Quarterly Letters

Winter 2017

Winter 2017 Newsletter

Dear SBFA Members,

We have had an active Fall 2016 term in which we increased membership, and worked closely with the Faculty Senate, CUCFA, and the AAUP to protect faculty welfare and academic freedom during a time of rapid and unpredictable change.  This letter provides some highlights and encourages you to get involved. Please invite your colleagues to join, help us shape the future direction of the Faculty Association, and give us your ideas about how we can better meet your needs: we now have an online form that makes it much easier to sign up to be a member of FA, and we are offering a free one year membership for new members who sign up by the end of February 2017!

Much of our energies during fall term were spent organizing a Day of Democratic Education (DDE) on January 18, to respond to widespread concerns about statements, actions, and personnel choices enacted by President-elect Donald Trump before the election and in the aftermath of his victory. Our DDE resulted in far more than a teach-in. It focused on exploring with our students the challenges of the present political configuration to long-held democratic values. We thus provided an entire day of civic education from 8 am to 5 pm, with 21 panels on topics ranging from “Immigration, Sanctuaries and Democracy” and “The Simple Science of Climate Change” to “Identity Politics in American Democracy,” and involving 64 panelists, most of them FA members. We are especially proud of having drawn from the expertise of all of our members from the sciences, humanities, and social sciences. The panels in Corwin pavilion were attended by hundreds of students throughout the day, and we estimate overall attendance in the thousands. We THANK YOU all for sharing your expertise, for allowing your students to attend the panels, for volunteering your class-time and space, and for making this January 18th an unforgettable day of solidarity, organization, and resistance. Visit our website for pictures or read about the event here.

Spurred by the plight of Turkish academics after the failed coup d’état in late Summer 2016, and the ongoing persecution suffered by professors and teachers all around the world, particularly in civil-war-torn Syria, our Faculty Association introduced a resolution before our Academic Senate for UCSB to join the Scholar at Risk (SAR) network to arrange temporary academic positions for scholars of any discipline and from any country who have been persecuted, threatened for their life, or arrested in blatant violation of their academic freedom. Approved unanimously by the UCSB Senate in December 2016, this resolution was endorsed by our Chancellor and communicated to the whole campus community on January 12, 2017. Our board member Claudio Fogu was nominated local campus representative for the program, but this initiative can only work with the active collaboration of faculty (FA-members and not): please volunteer to join Claudio in a ‘SAR Steering Committee’ (cfogu@frit.ucsb.edu) and/or alert him of any opportunity for visiting scholars in your department or program.  And if you would like to make a personal donation please visit the SAR site and/or SRF site.

As a celebration of our joining SAR, on February 9 from 3:30 to 5:00 at Mosher Alumni House we hosted Scholars at Risk: Global Challenges to Academic Freedom.  At this well attended event, Claudio Fogu provided information on the SAR Network as well as perspectives on academic freedom in the Middle East region. Two young Turkish scholars, currently working at UCLA, Can Aciksoz and Zeynep Korkman spoke on challenges to academic freedom in Turkey, and our Global Studies Chair Alison Brysk addressed the relationship between human rights and academic freedom. A reception followed the event.

There are several more issues we are focusing on this year.  The first of which is to support Reclaim California Higher Education, a network of seventeen unions and organizations (including CUCFA, the Council of UC Faculty Associations) that has released a detailed report illustrating how to return to a tuition-free affordable public education, as stated in the California Master Plan.  The report, entitled The $48 Fix, shows how the privatization of the university has increased student debt and eroded quality education. It also outlines a way forward and documents how we can return to the state funding levels of 2001.  For further information on the plan and how you can get involved, please visit the site here.

Yet, it would be vain to hide that our most urgent and enduring concern is with the Trump administration’s cabinet picks, executive orders, and governing style, which present a serious risk to academic freedom and faculty and students’ welfare, whether they are documented or undocumented, citizens or recent immigrants. In addition, we also recognize that the election has created the environment for various expressions of hatred against specific groups and those who study and teach about racism, feminism, queer studies, etc… To combat this situation we circulated a petition directly following the election, asking our administrators to protect the DACA program and in general to reaffirm UCSB’s commitment to fostering an environment that is inclusive and respectful of diversity in all its forms — in our classrooms, our offices, on campus, and beyond. We are prepared to continue to defend and support our campus community as we protect our academic freedom, faculty welfare, and shared governance.

We thus invite you to sign the UCSB Open Letter to Donald Trump on Climate change here. This is linked on our website and social media and excerpted here: “With this letter, we aim to express the degree to which the scientists and intellectual leaders of our institution, speaking for themselves and not on behalf of the University of California, Santa Barbara, agree on the facts of climate change. We the undersigned are calling on you, in the most urgent terms possible, to maintain our country’s commitment to meeting the greenhouse gas emission targets set forth in the Paris Climate Agreement. This agreement is the first of a series of steps required to avert substantial climate change.”

Also, coming up Tuesday, February 28, 2017 – 7:00pm – 9:45pm Pollock Theater, UCSB, we would like to invite you to a viewing of STARVING THE BEAST. This documentary examines the on-going power struggle on college campuses across the nation as political and market-oriented forces push to disrupt and reform America’s public universities.  After the screening, Professor Lane Hall will discuss developments in Wisconsin as a case study of challenges to public higher education, as well as the disruptive role of art and activism in academia. The discussion will be moderated by Professor Patrice Petro, Director of the Carsey-Wolf Center.  The event is free but you are asked to make a reservation.

In order to support all of our activities, including our collaborations with the AAUP, and to bring our dues in line with other UC Faculty Associations, the executive board voted for a modest increase in the dues of our membership, which have not been changed since 1980s. The new dues will be $8 a month for Assistant Professors, $15 for Associate, $20 for Full professors (Emeriti professor dues will remain the same).

Finally, please mark your calendars: on April 5th from 4:00-6:00 pm, we will be hosting our annual social gathering for all members in which we will greet new members and openly discuss with all of you our mission and how we might best meet the challenges to higher education that our community is facing. We are aware that the activities organized by this board of late have been wider and more explicitly “political” than the mere defense or advocacy of faculty welfare. We believe to have interpreted correctly the needs of the times as well as the evolution of our mission, but we do want to hear from you. Please RSVP here on Facebook or here on our website to let us know you intend to attend the event (don’t worry, we will send out reminders).

How else can you communicate with us? You can follow us on Facebook, visit our website, or email us at ucsbfa@gmail.com.

We hope to hear from you and see you on April 5th and at our upcoming events.


Erika Rappaport

President, UCSB Faculty Association

Professor, Department of History