February 10, 2006

'WT..." AAUP and other tidbits

I'm simply befuddled with the delayed conference that the AAUP first sponsored and has now put on hiatus, about academic boycotts. I'm simply too tired right now to attempt untangling the different threads, so I'll ask you just to read the article and the responses on IHE. What's especially sad are the comments by Joan Scott, an historian and past chair of AAUP's Committee A.

More beyond the jump.

This is the second embarrassing operational mistake by AAUP in the last year, coming after last summer's endorsement of the ACE statement on academic freedom (and the dissent that followed quickly on that statement).

In the good- or at least no-news category, Florida Rep. Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala) has not (yet) filed a bill this year to enshrine Horowitz's ABOR in law. He's told elected leaders of the United Faculty of Florida that he's waiting until our state legislative research service returns an analysis of university policies and practices. While the report itself will be public, the original documents are not covered by Florida's public-records laws. But it's a good sign that no bill has been filed after what I expect has been the production of at least a draft report (which almost surely has been described to Baxley, if the unit's folks are competent, which in my experience they are). I could be wrong, of course.

And in the "this requires watching" category, South Dakota's lower house has passed HB 1222, a bill that ACTA is pushing. In theory, there's nothing wrong with requiring that institutions produce a variety of reports, including qualitative descriptions of their actions in various realms, including academic freedom. However, the bill notably did not cover academic freedom per se but intellectual diversity with a rather odd definition: "the foundation of a learning environment that exposes students to a variety of political, ideological, and other perspectives." My concerns with intellectual diversity tie into to disciplinary issues, not really ideology, but I understand the other arguments about it. Nonetheless, I am curious why this peculiarly political and ideological definition ignores things like conflicts in disciplinary literatures.

Moreover, academic freedom includes and goes well beyond whatever that encompasses. There's nothing in the bill's definition of intellectual diversity that mentions research or the general environment on a campus, or the insulation of institutional personnel decisions from undue external political pressures. There's nothing about academic due process for faculty, or for students.

We'll see what happens as this goes to the SD upper chamber.

Listen to this article
Posted in Academic freedom on February 10, 2006 9:53 PM |