Interests peaked by AAUP talk

Students are always fighting to have their voices heard on campus, and now some BGSU faculty believe they need to do the same.

Thirteen University faculty members and graduate students gathered last night in the Business Administration Building to learn more about the benefits that come with being organized by the American Association of University Professors.

The AAUP is an organization of professors and other academics in the United States with a mission “to advance academic freedom and shared governance, define fundamental professional values and standards for higher education, and ensure higher education’s contribution to the common good.”

The AAUP spans from a national level to state and local levels. Each university can have an AAUP chapter or a group of AAUP members numbering seven or more, with officers and a constitution or charter, said Rodger Govea, grievance officer at Cleveland State University, who spoke to the faculty last night.

“The AAUP has its own unique style,” said Govea, who is part of the AAUP chapter at CSU. “The national puts up sets of principles and then the chapters are pretty much on their own.”

This organization, unlike a faculty senate, is independent of university administrations, so it allows the faculty to have a stronger and more united voice, Govea said.

While BGSU has AAUP members, their previous chapter has deteriorated over the years and isn’t active anymore. Govea, along with some BGSU faculty members, hope to rejuvenate it once more.

And even though Govea mentioned that having a faculty senate is good, his main problem with only having the senate is that if the faculty has issues they want to deal with, the administration has the final say regardless of what the faculty wants.

“Faculty Senate can work things out, but have trouble getting the administration to see things their way. They can veto anything they don’t agree with,” said Govea, adding that just having a faculty senate as their only avenue isn’t as good as having this extra path to take.

One of the elements Govea discussed as being highly essential to universities is tenure.

“The idea of tenure … is you cannot be dismissed from your position unless someone shows just cause,” Govea said, adding that this is always one of AAUP’s focuses, and that tenure and academic freedom are intertwined with one another.

“[Tenure] allows academic freedom … assuming that the disciplines are not completely corrupt,” he said with a laugh, causing others to chuckle. But, laughs aside, Govea believes tenure is very significant to universities, and this is one of the ways the AAUP can be a “tremendous benefit to the faculty.”

However, Govea said that AAUP’s focus has recently shifted to giving the faculty a stronger voice and letting their needs and that voice “color and affect” the policies of a university.

One professor who agrees with Govea and wants to revive the BGSU chapter is AAUP member Robert Boughton, professor of physics.

“I think … the administration is in control,” he said. “A lot of things are handed down from above and if we reject it, too bad.”

Having a strong voice is very important to Boughton, and it is one of the main goals of BGSU faculty intrigued by the AAUP, according to Phil Terrie, professor of American culture studies.

“It’s important for the faculty to have a collective voice in university governance and faculty prerogatives,” said Terrie, also an AAUP member. “I think it’s good for the whole University.”

Terrie believes that the faculty does have shared governance to an extent, but that it needs to be stronger, and that an AAUP chapter can help make that happen.

“I think that while we do have shared governance here some of the time … it’s important that the faculty have a collective, organized voice,” Terrie said. “The mission of the University is the delivery of education … I think that improves with the faculty shared governance.”

Representin’ ohio Universities in Ohio with AAUP chapters: Case Western Reserve University Cincinnati State Cleveland State University Cuyahoga Community College Kent State University Medical University of Ohio Ohio University Ohio State University University of Akron University of Cincinnati University of Dayton University of Toledo Wilmington College Wright State University