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.
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.
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.
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 Irwin Yellowtiz the Chair of the NY Committee A:
Sally Dear-Healey, New York State Conference, AAUP. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Irwin Yellowitz, Chair, NY Committee A. Phone: 201-767-3620; e-mail: email@example.com
Other members of NY Conference, Committee A include:
Scott Campbell. Phone: 585 690-5604; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Marjorie Heins. Phone; 212 496-1311; email: email@example.com
Jane Koretz. Phone: 518 276-6492; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mary Rose Kubal. Phone: 716 375-2271; email: MKUBAL@sbu.edu