Frequently Asked Questions

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WE CAN HELP YOU DEFEND YOUR ACADEMIC FREEDOM

by Irwin Yellowitz, Chair, New York Conference, Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure

Academic freedom protects all faculty members, tenured or untenured.  If a faculty member in New York State has experienced, or is threatened with, a violation of academic freedom, or of the tenure rights which sustain it, the members of New York Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure are ready to help.  We are prepared to receive complaints and provide advice about possible courses of action.

Our first function is to discuss the issues and actions thoroughly with the faculty member.  This involves telephone conversations, e-mail exchanges, and a full examination of the available documentary record.  In personnel actions, or any issue that has implications for academic freedom, faculty members should keep accurate and complete records of all relevant correspondence, telephonic and electronic communications, and meetings with colleagues and administrators.

Our counsel is based on AAUP guidelines and our own experience.  (See AAUP Policy Documents and Reports, 10th Edition, 2006, “The Redbook”.)  We offer advice on whether the procedures of the institution meet established academic practice, and whether they have been applied properly.   We offer advice on whether the actions taken or contemplated have a prima facie aura of discrimination or malice.  Our advice helps faculty members understand their situations better, allows them to maximize the effectiveness of internal institutional procedures, and clarifies the realistic possibilities for outside action.

When NY Committee A believes that a violation of AAUP policies or standards has occurred, it may

  • try to arrange a settlement;
  • investigate the matter;
  • refer the complaint to national AAUP Committee A with a recommendation for a full investigation and appropriate action.

As Chair of NY Conference Committee A, I deal with an inquiry, or assign it to a member of the Committee, who then contacts the person and takes responsibility in the matter.  The full Committee makes all decisions on how to proceed once the facts and issues have been established.  Our actions are based on AAUP’s principles as stated in AAUP’s policy statements, and on our judgment of how a particular situation fits with those standards.

How to Maximize Help from AAUP Concerning Academic Freedom and Tenure Issues 

If you have an issue that concerns academic freedom and tenure, AAUP is available to consult with you. The following protocol explains how to maximize the help we can provide you.

  1. If there is an AAUP chapter, you should first approach it.  The leaders of the chapter know the situation on campus, and they may be able to mediate the situation.  They also can provide valuable advice.  If there is a collective bargaining agreement in place, the grievance procedure may cover the issue.  This will provide an important source of support.
  2. If there is no AAUP chapter, or should the chapter be unable to help, you may approach New York Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure.  We will be available to discuss the issues fully, and to offer advice.  NY Committee A also may recommend to National Committee A of AAUP that it consider your issue.  
  3. Finally, at any time, you may approach National Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure.  However, once you do, NY Committee A will step aside.  It is the policy of NY Committee A not to become involved in any matter that has been reviewed, or is under review, by National Committee A.

Thus AAUP offers a variety of means for a faculty member to get valuable advice, and perhaps ultimately to have AAUP intervene in a case.  If you follow the steps outlined above, you will best take advantage of the resources offered by AAUP in this critical area.


If you have reason to consult with NY Committee A, contact the Conference’s Executive Director, or the Chair of the Committee: 

Tom Policano, Executive Director, New York State Conference, AAUP.
Phone:  888-690-2287 or 585-719-7137; e-mail: tpolicano@nysaaup.org

Irwin Yellowitz, Chair, NY Committee A.  Phone:  201-767-3620; e-mail:  iyellowitz@aol.com

Other members of  NY Conference, Committee A:

Scott Campbell - Phone: 585 690-5604; email: scthalela@yahoo.com

Marjorie Heins - Phone; 212 496-1311; email: margeheins@verizon.net

Jane Koretz - Phone: 518 276-6492; e-mail: koretj@rpi.edu

Mary Rose Kubal - Phone: 716 375-2271; email: MKUBAL@sbu.edu

 

 

ACADEMIC FREEDOM AND AAUP

Introduction

Academic Freedom and the AAUP has been prepared by Irwin Yellowitz, Chair of New York Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure, from a document distributed by the University Faculty Senate of the City University of New York. We thank the Chair of the CUNY University Faculty Senate, Manfred Philipp, for permission to use this document. The UFS statement was written by Lenore Beaky and Stephen Leberstein. We thank them for their permission to use their work, and for their willingness to participate in this revision of the original document. The text also has been reviewed by the members of NY Committee A, Martin Fried, Jane Koretz, Lionel Lewis and John Thomas, and they have approved it. This document will prove useful as an introduction to a complex subject. For references to further resources, see the end of the document. If you need help with an academic freedom issue, see the last paragraph of the text. 

New York Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure

“The responsibility of the university as a whole is to the community at large, and any restriction upon the freedom of the instructor is bound to react injuriously upon the efficiency and the morale of the institution, and therefore ultimately upon the interests of the community.”

--American Association of University Professors (AAUP), 
1915 Declaration on Academic Freedom


What Is Academic Freedom?

Academic freedom is the indispensable condition for the faculty to carry out its work: the responsibilities of teaching, research and publication, and of participating in college governance. Without the ability to control their work, faculty members will find themselves laboring under conditions closer to those of a corporation than the academy.

Academic freedom is a professional right of the faculty. It is grounded in the faculty’s qualifications for the position as reviewed by their peers. It consists in the freedom to teach, research, write, and to speak in their public capacity without restraint by the administration. As a professional right, academic freedom differs from the constitutional right to freedom of speech and assembly guaranteed by the First Amendment in the sense that academic freedom is the necessary condition for faculty members to fulfill their professional obligations and responsibilities as teachers, researchers and writers.

Academic freedom protects faculty members from reprisals by employers for exercising free speech rights outside the classroom, a protection not afforded most Americans. Academic freedom further protects faculty members when they participate in the governance of their institutions or speak out on matters of educational policy, particularly when opposing the views of the administration.

Academic freedom includes all members of the faculty. For full-time members of the faculty, tenure is the main shield against violations. However, most teaching in the United States is now done by part-time or contingent faculty not eligible for tenure. For those not protected by tenure, academic freedom is defended through specific provisions of a collective bargaining agreement or governance document, such as a faculty manual or handbook. For all faculty, academic freedom ultimately depends on its acceptance by the entirety of academe, as exemplified by the AAUP’s 1940 Statement of Principles of Academic Freedom and Tenure, which was developed in tandem with the Association of American Colleges (now the Association of American Colleges and Universities), and endorsed to date by over 200 academic and professional organizations.


Academic Freedom Rests on Four Propositions

The best traditions of higher education rest on the professional freedom of university faculty and researchers in the academy. Academic freedom is meant to conserve those traditions in order to maintain the appropriate role of colleges and universities in a democratic society.
Colleges and universities exist as public trusts, to serve the common good.


Institutional autonomy protects colleges and universities against political, religious and corporate pressures.


Academic freedom protects faculty members in the performance of research, writing, teaching, and extramural speech.


Tenure, faculty governance, and due process also protect faculty members against improper pressures and arbitrary decisions on reappointment and tenure. 

 

 

The 1915 AAUP Declaration of Principles on Academic Freedom and Academic Tenure

The first statement of academic freedom by the AAUP is its 1915 Declaration of Principles on Academic Freedom and Academic Tenure, which sets forth a powerful and prescient rationale for academic freedom. The 1915 Declaration begins with a set of principles, addressed primarily to boards of trustees: colleges and universities “constitute a public trust. The trustees are trustees for the public.” Faculty members are appointed by trustees, but they are not the trustees’ employees: “The responsibility of the university teacher is primarily to the public itself, and to the judgment of his [or her] own profession.” 

Subsequently AAUP worked with the Association of American Colleges on statements of the accepted principles of academic freedom. These culminated in the 1940 Statement of Principles of Academic Freedom and Tenure, which is the accepted standard for the academic profession.


The 1940 AAUP Statement and Beyond

The AAUP has always been careful to justify academic freedom in the context of the functions of the academy and to ground it in the due process protections that make academic freedom a reality in the lives of faculty members. The AAUP’s 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure states in its preamble that “Institutions of higher education are conducted for the common good and not to further the interest of either the individual teacher or the institution as a whole. The common good depends upon the unfettered search for truth and its free exposition.” Therefore, the 1940 Statement explains that “teachers are entitled to full freedom in research and in the publication of the results….” Yet freedom also entails responsibilities. Thus the 1940 Statement states that faculty “should at all times be accurate, should exercise appropriate restraint, should show respect for the opinions of others, and should make every effort to indicate that they are not speaking for the institution.” Since this language could be used improperly against a faculty member, in 1970, the AAUP made clear that the wording did not permit dismissal of an instructor, unless the total record of the person demonstrated unfitness for the position. The determination of unfitness required due process, which was explicitly delineated in other AAUP documents.

Despite some ambiguity, the 1940 Statement represents the view of faculty and administration that academic freedom is essential to the mission of the college or university, is protected in the areas of teaching, research and publication, and is supported by tenure. Violations must be seen as contrary to the basic principles of academic life.

While academic freedom is not simply the free speech rights of university faculty, the Supreme Court has nevertheless recognized academic freedom as an important condition for the constitutional right to freedom of speech and assembly to flourish in the nation as a whole. In Sweezy v. New Hampshire (1957), Justice Felix Frankfurter affirmed the “four essential freedoms” of a university: “to determine for itself on academic grounds who may teach, what may be taught, how it shall be taught, and who may be admitted to study.” In Keyishian v. Board of Regents (1967), the Court described academic freedom as “a special concern of the First Amendment, which does not tolerate laws that cast a pall of orthodoxy over the classroom.”

Regarding classroom conduct the 1940 Statement also balanced freedom and responsibility. “Teachers are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subject, but they should be careful not to introduce into their teaching controversial matter which has no relation to their subject.” The caution here is placed on what is relevant to the course, a standard to be determined by the faculty, rather than on what may be regarded as “controversial.” As the AAUP put it in 1970: “The intent of this statement is not to discourage what is ‘controversial’. Controversy is at the heart of the free academic inquiry which the entire statement is designed to foster. The passage serves to underscore the need for teachers to avoid persistently intruding material which has no relation to their subject.”

Indeed, in today’s charged partisan atmosphere, some students may feel offended when their closely held beliefs are challenged in class. Organizations such as Students for Academic Freedom, The American Council of Trustees and Alumni, Campus Watch, and others which support the highly controversial “Academic Bill of Rights,” monitor colleges and universities for political purposes. Instead of encouraging students to engage in discussion, some of them have recruited students to report on their professors to administrators, trustees and legislators. When faculty fear the threat of a complaint and reprisal so much that they censor themselves to avert any controversy, then they unwittingly subvert the public mission of the academy. If professors cannot speak the truth as they understand it in their disciplines, then they are kept from doing their job and are likely to lose the respect of their students in any case. The 1940 Statement did not intend that result. However, the Statement obliges the faculty member to avoid using his or her privileged position to introduce material or personal views unrelated to the course.

The AAUP’s “Freedom in the Classroom” statement in Academe (September-October 2007) responds to recent legislative efforts to mandate balance or diversity in university classrooms. To the claim that faculty “indoctrinate” students, the statement replies that “It is not indoctrination when, as a result of their research and study, instructors assert to their students that in their view particular propositions are true, even if these propositions are controversial within a discipline.” To insist upon neutral balance in the classroom “is fundamentally to misconstrue the nature of higher learning, which expects students to engage with the ideas of their professors.” Faculty however may not engage in partisan or religious proselytizing in their classrooms. They should respect their students’ opinions and encourage students to express those opinions, and should be fair and objective in assessing student work. However, while treating their students respectfully, faculty members remain responsible for the interpretation of their disciplines.

The Task Force on Middle East Anthropology suggests the following steps that might be taken by faculty before a course begins: be familiar with the AAUP statements on academic freedom and with their college’s code of student conduct; distribute a syllabus with their expectations and guidelines on classroom participation and discussion; set the tone for vigorous but respectful class discussions; set up debates or small-group discussions; and consider in advance how they might handle potential hot topics or disruptive students.


Shared Governance

As with tenure, shared governance is a buttress for academic freedom. It is another accepted principle of academic life endorsed in 1966 through a joint statement of AAUP and several organizations representing administrations and boards of trustees. Shared governance provides for the faculty’s primacy in areas that depend on its professional training and abilities. The 1966 Statement defines these as “curriculum, subject matter and methods of instruction, research, faculty status and those areas of student life that relate to the educational process.” In the area of faculty status, faculty have primary responsibility for appointment, reappointment, tenure, promotion and dismissal, and a president or board of trustees should accept faculty judgment “except in rare instances and for compelling reasons which should be stated in detail.” Faculty exercise these responsibilities through departmental, college and university committees.

AAUP regards this central role of faculty in governance as “necessary for the protection of academic freedom.” Where it is absent, experience shows that there “is a potential for, and at times the actuality of, administrative imposition of penalties on improper grounds.”

In support of these principles, AAUP has developed specific procedures to promote due process in academic freedom cases. Many colleges and universities have incorporated these procedures in whole, or in large part, into their handbooks and governance structures. Yet “A good governance system is no guarantee that academic freedom will flourish.” That requires not only a proper governance structure, but acceptance of academic freedom as a central principle of institutional life, and the constant vigilance of faculty, individually, and through their committees and other faculty organizations.

In the absence of formally adopted department, college or university-wide policies, the faculty member retains the right to make individual academic decisions. The authority of faculty members to teach their subject is grounded in their professional qualifications as judged by the standards of their discipline and their peers. Having met those qualifications, it is therefore the right and responsibility of the faculty to determine the curricula and syllabi, to select the texts and other instructional materials, and to test and set grading standards for their courses free from pressures from college administrations, outside organizations, politicians, or the media. Where a department or faculty governance body has approved course curricula, textbooks, teaching methods, grading standards, sequences and course requirements, however, the individual faculty member is expected to follow these policies.


The Academic Freedom of Contingent Faculty

Under prevailing American legal doctrine, employment is “at will” unless otherwise protected by collective bargaining agreements or civil service rules. “At will” means that an employee can be let go for “any reason, no reason at all, or a reason morally wrong.” Academic tenure was meant to set college and university faculty apart from that doctrine. But as American colleges and universities come under increasing pressure to raise private funds, and as they move toward a more corporate structure and related business practices, reliance on vulnerable contingent faculty subject to “at will” employment is rapidly increasing. Without the protection of tenure, contingent faculty, now the majority of faculty in the United States, are especially vulnerable to academic freedom violations.

In light of the enormous growth in the use of contingent, mostly part-time, faculty in recent years, the AAUP in 2006 adopted new Recommended Institutional Regulations governing such contingent faculty. Essentially these Regulations extend the protection of academic freedom to contingent faculty. 

In response to the threat to academic freedom posed by the increasing use of contingent faculty, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) also released a statement, “Academic Freedom in the 21st Century College and University: Academic Freedom for All Faculty and Instructional Staff” (2007), forcefully arguing that the rights of academic freedom and faculty governance embrace all non-tenure track faculty and instructional staff. 
Violations of academic freedom come in many forms.

The AAUP’s long history of investigations of academic freedom cases shows a variety of issues, almost always rooted in local circumstances, but at the same time reflective of broader types of violation. Faculty are aware of the most egregious attacks on academic freedom, in which faculty are punished for statements they made in their classroom, or in their research, writing or speech. Not all faculty are aware of less well publicized attacks on academic freedom through administrative violations of the role of faculty in the areas of curriculum and teaching, or the recruitment and evaluation of peers. Examples of these violations of academic freedom follow. While not all inclusive, they indicate major forms of violation that faculty should recognize.

Interference by an administration with the faculty role in appointment, reappointment, tenure and promotion processes.

Direct appointment of faculty without faculty participation in searches or personnel review.

Any demand that a faculty member use a particular textbook or other resource in teaching that has not been so designated by the faculty member, unless determined by his or her department.

The removal by an administrator of a faculty member, full time or adjunct, from a classroom without due process.

The establishment by administrators of pre- and co-requisites of courses without faculty approval.

The unilateral establishment by a university’s or college’s administration of admissions criteria for a college or a degree program without faculty approval.

Administrative demands that a faculty member teach using a particular methodology (e.g., group projects, writing intensives, webenhancement)that has not been approved by the faculty member unless determined by his or her department.

The determination by the administration of what credit-bearing courses shall be offered at the college in any of its programs (including continuing education) without the approval of the appropriate department.

Any prohibition by an administrator of the offering or display of creative works of art at the college in any of its programs, including continuing education

 

 

How You Can Respond to Threats Against Your Academic Freedom

Institutional

Defense of academic freedom concerns violations of the rights of an individual as well as violations of proper governance. One important defense is for a faculty to establish its own academic freedom committee. A campus committee can monitor, examine and report annually to the faculty on the status of academic freedom, investigate possible violations, and address issues and make recommendations regarding academic freedom. The role of this committee should be defined clearly in the governance document of the institution. This is particularly important in possible cases of academic freedom violation. Procedures must be explicit, and should follow the AAUP’s standards.

If there is a union on campus, the collective bargaining agreement should clearly state that academic freedom will be protected in the institution. The contract should provide a mechanism for handling possible violations of academic freedom, either through the established grievance procedure, or through procedures set out in the AAUP’s statements. 

The organization Free Exchange on Campus, a coalition including the AAUP, American Civil Liberties Union, AFT, and the United States Student Association, works to support the academic freedom of faculty and to counter political attacks on academic freedom. The AFT has set forth standards of academic freedom in teaching, research and publication, participation in institutional governance, and freedom in public life. The AFT urges faculty to protect and defend their academic freedom by initiating dialogues on campus and among policymakers and the public, as well as negotiating practices that support academic freedom and political and legislative work.

Personal

If you think that your academic freedom is under attack, or is being violated, contact your campus academic freedom committee, AAUP chapter or union promptly. If you choose to consult with AAUP, one route is through the New York Conference. See the article on the website of the New York Conference of AAU P, prepared by New York Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure. It is entitled We Can Help Defend Your Academic Freedom. The website address is www.nysaaup.org, or you can phone the Executive Director of the New York Conference, Tom Policano, at 888-690-2287 or 585-719-7137. You also can bring the violation to the attention of National AAUP. The phone number is 202-737-5900, and the web site is www.aaup.org. Selected Resources

American Association of University Professors, Policy Documents and Reports, 10th edition, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006 (the Redbook). Major documents from this volume are available online at. http://www.aaup.org. Following are references to several important documents, which can be found in the Redbook or consulted online. a- 1915 Declaration of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, Appendix I. 

b- 1940 Statement on Academic Freedom and Tenure, 1940, 1969, 1989, 1990. 
       http://www.aaup.org/AAUP/pubsres/policydocs/contents/1940statement.htm

c- 1958 Statement on Procedural Standards in Faculty Dismissal Proceedings, 1958, 1989, 1990.
       http://www.aaup.org/AAUP/pubsres/policydocs/contents/statementon+proceduralstandardsinfaculty+dismissal+proceedings.htm

d- Statement on Procedural Standards on the Renewal or Non-Renewal of Faculty Appointments, 1971, 1989. 
       http://www.aaup.org/AAUP/pubsres/policydocs/contents/nonreapp-stmt.htm

e- Recommended Institutional Regulations on Academic Freedom and Tenure, 1957, 1968, 1972, 1976, 1982, 1990, 1999, 2005, 2006.
       http://www.aaup.org/AAUP/pubsres/policydocs/contents/RIR.htm
f- Joint Statement on Rights and Freedoms of Students, 1967, 1990, 1991, 1992.        http://www.aaup.org/AAUP/pubsres/policydocs/contents/stud-rights.htm
g- Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities, 1966.
h- Statement On the Relationship of Faculty Governance to Academic Freedom, 1994.

 

 

 


American Federation of Teachers, “Academic Freedom in the 21st-Century College and University: Academic Freedom for All Faculty and Instructional Staff,” September 2007.        http://www.aft.org/pubs_reports/higher_ed/Academic FreedomStatement.pdf

Baumrin, Stefan. “Foundations of Academic Freedom and Tenure,” Annals of Scholarship, v. 11 (1981).

Dewey, John, "Academic Freedom," Educational Review, v. 23, January 1902, pp. 1-14.

Free Exchange on Campus.        http://www.freeexchangeoncampus.org

Freedom in the Classroom.” Academe, September-October 2007, 54-61.        http://www.aaup.org/AAUP/comm/rep/A/class.htm

Hofstadter, Richard and Walter Metzger, The Development of Academic Freedom in the United States, Columbia University Press, 1955.

Hook, Sidney (editor), In Defense of Academic Freedom, Pegasus, 1971.

Hutchins, Robert M., “The Meaning and Significance of Academic Freedom," The Annals, v. 30, 1955.

Kaplan, Craig and Schrecker, Ellen (editors), Regulating the Intellectuals: Perspectives on Academic Freedom in the 1980s, New York: Praeger, 1983.

Leberstein, Stephen, “Purging the Profs: The Rapp-Coudert Committee in New York, 1940-1942,”in Michael Brown, et al. (editors), New Studies in the Politics and Culture of U.S. Communism, New York: Monthly Press, 1993.

Lewis, Lionel S., Cold War on Campus, Transaction Books, 1988

MacIver, Robert M., Academic Freedom in Our Time, Columbia University Press, 1955.

Menand, Louis (editor), The Future of Academic Freedom, University of Chicago Press, 1996.

Schrecker, Ellen, No Ivory Tower: McCarthyism and the Universities, New York: Oxford University Press, 1986.

Task Force on Middle East Anthropology, Academic Freedom and Professional Responsibility after 9/11: A Handbook for Scholars and Teachers, 2006.        http://www.meanthro.org.handbook.htm

 

Tom Policano, Executive Director, New York State Conference, AAUP.
Phone: 888-690-2287 or 585-719-7137; e-mail: tpolicano@nysaaup.org

Irwin Yellowitz, Chair, NY Committee A. Phone: 201-767-3620; e-mail: iyellowitz@aol.com

 

A dean calls to offer you the three-year tenure-track appointment for which you interviewed. You accept, and move 3,000 miles to your new job. Two weeks into the semester a letter from the Trustees confirms your position - as a non-tenure-track "special appointment." 

Your department unanimously recommends a two-year reappointment for yourself and two colleagues. Your teaching and service records are comparable, but you, a woman, have published a book while the others, men, have published three articles apiece. They are renewed; you are not. 

You are being sued for "failure to teach" by a former student who received an F in your course. 

At age 65 you decide to continue teaching until 70. You learn, however, that the college will cease contributing to your medical and pension plans. 

The dean calls you into her office to tell you that a student is charging you with sexual harassment. 

The provost denies you a merit raise on the grounds that your outstanding student evaluations are merely the result of your awarding 90% A's and B's. 

Your department has just been "retrenched" and your tenured appointment terminated. 

.... What rights do you have as a faculty member in these situations? 

.... What recourse can you take? 


Protecting Your Faculty Rights: A Guide Prepared & Distributed by
The New York State Conference AAUP 1996

Most academics don't think about protecting their rights as faculty and as employees until they encounter situations like those just described. By following the basic steps outlined in PROTECTING YOUR FACULTY RIGHTS: A GUIDE, you can effectively meet such challenges when they do occur, or even avoid them entirely. 

 

Know Your Rights
Identify Your Responsibilities

Listed below are the types of documents that define the general policies and procedures of your institution regarding matters such as appointments, reappointments, promotion, and tenure; curriculum; faculty governance; academic freedom; workloads; salaries; and benefits. You should also have all documents that detail the specific terms and conditions of your individual appointment. Read and retain:

1. Institutional charter and by-laws
2. School and department handbook or 
governance rules
3. Faculty manual or handbook*
4. Faculty union contract, if any*
5. List and description of all fringe benefits*
6. Student handbook
7. Any other document that establishes procedures
8. Your letter of appointment (and all subsequent reappointments)
9. Any other document that defines or modifies your specific job 

Ideally, your faculty manual should contain copies of all documents from 1 through 5. Because faculty manuals are usually written by the administration, be alert to changes that may have been made, unannounced and without faculty consultation, even when faculty normally participate in recommending the provisions of the manual. 

*Senior faculty can help new faculty by routinely providing copies of these documents during the job interview itself. If such materials aren't offered, candidates should ask for them. 

 

Keep 
Records

At a time of increasing litigation by parents and students as well as the increasing tendency on the part of administrators to view themselves as managers, it is important to keep thorough records of all your job-related activities. In addition to the basic documents just listed, retain the following items in your files: 
1. Grade books
2. Photocopies of final grade reports
3. Sign-up sheets or other records of student conferences
4. Minutes of department/school meetings
5. Minutes of committees on which you have served
6. Syllabi, handouts, reading lists, lecture notes
7. Grant applications and responses
8. All job-related correspondence you have sent or received
9. Appointment books
10. Curriculum vitae (all revisions) and annual activities reports
11. Student and other teaching evaluations
12. Any other item you or another has placed in your personnel files.

Additionally, you should review and update your departmental, school, and central personnel files annually. 

Create 
Records

Even minor incidents such as an incorrect paycheck or a student complaining to your chair that you missed an appointment can often lead to major problems. Create a "paper trail" as soon as you find yourself in any potentially troublesome situation: 

Keep written records of telephone conversations, noting the date, names of persons with whom you spoke, and a summary of the conversation.

Follow up telephone calls with written requests for information or action to resolve the problem. Include a summary of the conversation.

If you attend meetings on the issue, take detailed notes of the date, who was present, and what was said. Sign and date these notes for your own records. Then send a memo to the appropriate person(s) with a detailed objective summary of what was said and by whom. End your memo with this request: "If your understanding of our meeting (conversation) differs from mine, would you please let me know in writing." 

 

 

Keep Your Temper
Keep Your Wits

If you find yourself in an adversarial situation, you may well find too that all your actions will be cast in the worst possible light. Whatever the provocation, it is in your best interest to remain level-headed: 

Let the facts speak for themselves.

State your case effectively but keep your emotions in check.

Never put in writing anything potentially insulting, libelous, provocative, or offensive.

Never refuse a work-related assignment on the spot. Consult first with your faculty union, where there is one. Otherwise, call The New York State Conference, which will contact the national AAUP. 

 

 

What You Should Do If Your Rights Are Being Violated

Immediately review the documents that spell out your rights and responsibilities in order to determine whether you have grounds for a complaint.

Immediately read the section in your faculty manual or union contract that describes the proper channels for pursuing a remedy to your situation, including grievance or appeal procedures.

Seek a solution first through direct consultation.

If an informal approach to solving the problem fails, then use the formal grievance or appeal procedure provided in your faculty manual or union contract.

DO NOT MISS THE DEADLINE FOR FILING A COMPLAINT. Internal grievance procedures are designed to save you the time and cost of taking your claim to a civil court. If you miss a deadline you may still be able to resolve the problem internally, but the administration is obliged to do only what is mandated in the bylaws, faculty manual, or union contract on matters not covered by law.

Complaints of discrimination as defined by state or federal laws may be filed with the New York State Equal Opportunity Commission or at the federal level with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. File as soon as possible because counting the days to filing deadlines can be tricky and the deadlines are strictly enforced. You do not need an attorney to file.

If you are represented by a union, contact the union grievance officer first. Otherwise, contact your faculty grievance committee. Additionally, if your campus has an AAUP Chapter, consult with its officers.

If you have no resources on your campus to help you with your problem, or if your faculty advisors need advice or assistance, call The New York State Conference AAUP. Experienced AAUP members can review the issues with you and advise you further on what steps to take.

Retain an attorney only when you are sure you need one. . 

 

 

What You Should Do To Avoid Litigation

Find out to what extent the policies of your institution protect you for decisions made or actions taken while you are engaged in professional activities such as classroom teaching, laboratory supervision, or committee deliberations.

Find out if you have liability coverage while traveling on institution business or while using an institution-owned vehicle.

At the beginning of each term, provide all your students with a written definition of plagiarism and other violations of academic honesty. Use statements from the student handbook, where they exist. Also inform them in writing of the consequences incurred for violating these policies.

Familiarize yourself with your institution's student disciplinary procedures.

Find out whether your institution has an ombudsperson or similar officer to whom student vs. faculty disputes may be referred. 

Follow correct institutional procedures when you discipline a student for cheating or plagiarism, and be able to sustain your claim with documentation. 

 


AAUP members are eligible to enroll in the Association's professional liability insurance program. For more information, call 1-800-583-2849. 


The creation and protection of faculty tights is a collective process. The AAUP has worked since 1915 on just this activity and the policy statements produced, often with the collaboration of administrative or other professional groups in higher education, are collected in AAUP Policy Documents and Reports (the volume commonly referred to as "The Redbook"). Becoming familiar with this work may prove invaluable for you and your colleagues.

 

The New York State Conference AAUP stands ready to serve your professional interests. A specially designed NYSC Legal Service Plan is available. For further information or assistance call:

Tom Policano, Executive Director 
NYS Conference AAUP
PO Box 20047
Rochester, NY 14602
888.690.2287
585.719.7137
585.427.8526 Fax
tpolicano@nysaaup.org

Irwin Yellowitz, Chair, Committee A
201-767-3620
iyellowitz@aol.com 

How to set up Chapter Payroll Deduction for Member Dues ? 

From: Membership [membership@aaup.org]
Subject: RE: Direct deposit and other issues

Regarding payroll deduction, the payroll office at Hilbert will need to calculate the total annual dues (the salary band that each member chooses) divided by the number of pay periods per year and deduct the same amount from each paycheck. The payroll office can then send a monthly or quarterly payment directly to the national office, or can send the payment to the chapter treasurer who will deposit the money in the chapter bank account and then send the national office a check. Regardless of whether the payroll office or chapter sends the dues payment, we will also need to receive a list of who made a dues payment and for how much. I’ll need to know whether we will be receiving payments from the chapter or payroll office, and will need the name, address and email for the appropriate contact person. I will send the contact person a quarterly statement of dues owed as well as a roster of members on payroll deduction, which will include the most recent membership information we have received from the chapter or payroll office. 

To get started, you may want to use the attached 2014 membership form. The national office will need from each member going on payroll deduction the information requested on this form—home address, email address, salary band and employment type. If you prefer, you may send us this information on a spreadsheet instead, whichever is more convenient. That information can be mailed to my attention at the national office (see address below) or emailed to rlewis@aaup.org. Once we get this information, we will send a prorated invoice to the appropriate contact person. The payroll office will likely need to collect different information, so you should find out from them what they need, and perhaps give them copies of the membership forms as well. 

Please let me know if you have any other questions.

Sincerely,
Rebecca Lewis
American Association of University Professors
1133 19th St NW Suite 200
Washington, DC 20036