Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Reply to Response of Gary Rhoades

October 20, 2010

Gary Rhoades, General Secretary, AAUP

Dear Gary Rhoades,

By your email last night, you have:

1. confirmed that you will not address a violation of academic freedom without communication from the "system leadership", even though SUNY-Buffalo union chapter unanimously asked for an AAUP investigation of an academic freedom violation and firing of a faculty member.

You are thereby changing or denying that AAUP has a policy that any aggrieved faculty member can go it for help with an academic freedom case, even as the latest bulletin from the NYS Conference of AAUP explicitly states that any faculty member can and should come for help. The Conference website even states that 2006 regulations "extend the protection of academic freedom to contingent faculty" -

2. stated that academic freedom has been lowered in AAUP priorities, even as AAUP has an entire Committee A for academic freedom cases (would the founders of AAUP and many, many others thereafter be pleased?).

3. claimed that I personally have "received extensive advice from our department of academic freedom, tenure, and governance".

The first two speak for themselves. The third borders on prevarication. The SUNY-Buffalo chapter resolution was sent to you on August 31, 2010, and also accompanied by an explicit request by the injured faculty member for an AAUP investigation. No response was ever received, verbally or in writing. (The only AAUP messages I have received on this case was a message of August 30 sent from your General Counsel Robert O'Neil saying "the General Counsel does not intervene in Committee A's consideration of individual case", and that only after a couple of informal emails in July from Greg Scholtz.)

Do you leave open the possibility of undertaking an investigation of this case if the UUP Delegate Assembly were to so request? (I hope that you actually answer this query of mine.) Informing us before our last Assembly on October 1 would have been helpful, given that the next Assembly is not until February when the severance vote is already scheduled.

I reaffirm that, at this time, AAUP remains in dereliction of its own stated obligations to faculty.

I am copying the NYS conference leadership.

Paul Zarembka

On 10/19/2010 11:50 PM, Gary Rhoades wrote:

Dear Professor Zarembka,

To my knowledge, you have in fact received a good deal of thoughtful advice from our department of academic freedom, tenure, and governance.
Of course, I realize that the advice may not have been the specific response you were looking for.
But that is different from being ignored.
And it certainly is a far cry from dereliction of duty.

Moreover, it is worth emphasizing that in a situation and context such as yours it is generally our custom to work through the bargaining unit, not just of the campus, but in your case of the system.
Being contacted by a chapter within the system (in this case your campus chapter) is quite a different matter than being contacted by the system leadership.
And from my perspective, the fact that we have not been contacted by the system leadership is telling.

Finally, I would simply point out that given the number of inquiries and cases we address from around the country, it might be worth considering the scale of the violations we are investigating and that are emerging nationally, and indeed within your state.
That is not to minimize the significance of what happens to individuals.
It is to say that it should be relatively easy to understand that we would prioritize a focus on reductions of significant numbers of faculty members, or on major structural actions (e.g., the eliminations of a faculty senate).

The key point, though, is that you have, in fact, been in contact with and received extensive advice from our department of academic freedom, tenure, and governance. It would be nice if you acknowledged that and the other contextual dimensions of the situation at hand in your communications.

I regret that you are apparently so unhappy with the AAUP.
But on the matters you are concerned about, it would seem to me that we, and
other faculty groups are not the enemy.
Indeed, the AAUP, like the AFT, the UUP, and a variety of other faculty organizations and unions, is working to enhance the working conditions of contingent faculty, and to afford them greater due process and employment security.

Gary Rhoades, General Secretary, AAUP

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