September 23, 2005

Speech codes at USF

My brief column on speech codes at the University of South Florida came out tonight on the union e-mail newsletter, describing a grievance I filed and then amended in June (PDF file). I've been sitting on this item for a few months, but it's clear that between a changeover in the administration staff member who handles grievances and other items, addressing a fairly cut-and-dried violation of academic freedom was not a priority. It's not about academic freedom itself—I'm not the only member of the union deeply concerned with some sloppiness in handling relations with faculty. This Just Happens at most universities, because maintaining good relations with faculty requires consistent good habits and prioritizing, and for good or ill, communicating with faculty and defending core academic principles are not the highest priorities for many college and university administrations.

We'll see whether stuffing that item in the e-mail newsletter gets the attention of administrators in a constructive way. If not, it's on to a formal grievance hearing. This may turn out to be the first hearing of our administrator newly in charge of processing faculty grievances. That's pretty unusual (for a hearing to be about an academic-freedom matter). In most cases, grievances are about things most readers might find more mundane: discipline, assignments, evaluations (including T&P), nonreappointment, and pay. That doesn't mean those items aren't about principles. Often, they are. Rather, this grievance is about a matter of principle before someone's job is on the line. How does that matter, you ask? Well, we'll see if this gets to a hearing...

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Posted in Academic freedom on September 23, 2005 12:02 AM |