Civil Rights and the AAUP

Dear Colleagues:

 

AAUP Loyola joins the national AAUP in its celebration of two recent Supreme Court decisions announced last week.  The first, Bostock, clarifies that the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Acts does protect gay and transgender people from workplace discrimination; the second halts the Trump administration’s abrupt ending of the DACA program.  (Please see the message below from the national AAUP).  The current phase of the struggle for racial justice, focused on the outrageous and pervasive police violence against African Americans and other people of color, is a reminder of the importance of a just and equitable legal system that protects the rights of all.  We are proud that the AAUP filed amicus briefs in both cases, in defense of “diversity, tolerance, and openness on university campuses.”

These ongoing issues are of pressing importance to all of us as faculty members and to Loyola as an institution that showcases its commitment to social justice.  We appreciate the advocacy on behalf of the DACA recipients (dreamers) that Loyola as an institution has shown for years, and the eloquent statement made by President Rooney shortly after the announcement of the Supreme Court decision.  We wish that a similar statement had been issued about the Bostock decision, all the more so since Loyola is an institution that might well be able to take advantage of the exemptions for religious institutions  written into the decision. Indeed, Loyola’s attorneys have previously argued for such exemptions in other contexts, including in unsuccessful efforts a number of years ago to argue that the application of the National Labor Relations Act to lecturers and adjuncts violate Loyola’s religious freedom — a position that Trump’s National Labor Relations Board has just upheld.

Similarly, we welcome the numerous initiatives that Loyola has unrolled in response to the unprecedented Black Lives Matter mobilizations across the country.  But we are disappointed that Loyola’s administration has not announced an evaluation of our own campus security officers and Loyola’s relationship with the Chicago Police Department, matters to which the Black Graduate Student Alliance and other campus groups have called attention.

Progress on these three issues — institutional racism, LGBTQ rights, and protecting the undocumented — has been made possible by grassroots activism.  We encourage our colleagues to write with their concerns and requests about these issues to President Rooney and to their representatives on the Faculty Council.  And if the AAUP strikes you as an effective advocate for inclusive and just practices at universities, please consider joining.

 

Sincerely,

 

AAUP Loyola Officers

 

Benjamin Johnson, History

Ian Cornelius, English

Devorah Schoenfeld, Theology

Rhys Williams, Sociology

Sherrie Weller, English

Elizabeth Coffman, Communication

David Ingram, Philosophy

Abby Annala, Library

Reuben Keller, IES

John Pincince, History

Alec Stubbs, Philosophy

Paige Warren, English

 

Dear AAUP Member,

We want to highlight two significant and startlingly positive Supreme Court decisions that came out this week with important implications for many faculty and students—and for higher education in general. In both cases the AAUP joined an amicus brief for the prevailing side.

In Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, et al., the Supreme Court ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects gay and transgender workers due to its prohibition of discrimination based on sex. The ruling allows employees discriminated against based on their sexual orientation or transgender status to sue. While questions remain about the rights of religious employers and practical details such as bathrooms and locker rooms, the court emphatically states that “employers are prohibited from firing employees on the basis of homosexuality or transgender status.” Read a summary of the decision and amicus brief.

In Department of Homeland Security et al. v. Regents of the University of California et al., the Supreme Court blocked the current administration’s attempts to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The DACA program allows undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children to remain in the country legally and expands access to higher education by providing eligibility for in-state tuition and state-funded grants and loans to participants. However, the ruling leaves open the possibility that this administration may try again to eliminate DACA. As the court states, “The dispute before the Court is not whether DHS may rescind DACA. All parties agree that it may. The dispute is instead primarily about the procedure the agency followed in doing so.” Read a summary of the decision and amicus brief.

The AAUP applauds these rulings and believes they provide critical support for members of the AAUP community and the students it serves. We emphatically support protections against discrimination, and our legal work reflects our commitment to promoting diversity, tolerance, and openness on university campuses.

The AAUP

Twitter AAUP Website Facebook 

 

 

 

 

Shared Governance in a Time of Crisis

May 12, 2020

Dr. Jo Ann Rooney

Dr. Norberto Grzywacz

Mr. Tom Kelly

Dear President Rooney, Vice-President Kelly, and Provost Grzywacz:

Thank you for your recent communications to the faculty about Loyola’s response to the Covid epidemic and the economic circumstances that it has created. We are gratified to learn of the option to extend probationary periods for tenure track faculty, and that financial austerity is beginning with pay cuts for the university’s most highly compensated administrators.

This is surely an early chapter in what will be a long and difficult story for all of us. So we, the officers of AAUP Loyola, write this letter to urge you to adhere to the standards of shared governance that are widely practiced in academe, articulated in policy documents generated by such organizations as the American Association of University Professors and the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, and embodied in many provisions of Loyola’s faculty handbook. The ongoing challenges posed by the Covid epidemic only heighten the importance of adhering to these standards.

Our concern was raised by a decision to change admissions standards for M.A. programs made by the “Management Policy Command structure” and announced to Graduate Program Directors (apparently with no previous discussion, according to the complaints that we received) in an April 30th email from the Director of Graduate and Professional Enrollment Management. Perhaps the changes announced are necessary or even wise, but matters such as admissions requirements fall squarely in the realm of faculty oversight and ought not be promulgated outside of structures and practices of shared governance. The “Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities,” jointly formulated by the AAUP, The American Council on Education, and the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, outlines principles of joint or shared governance in which the faculty exercises “primary responsibility “ for decision-making on academic matters, including “curriculum, subject matter and methods of instruction.” It also stipulates that “[w]ith regards to student admissions, the faculty should have a meaningful role in establishing institutional policies, including the setting of standards for admission.”

We hope that this decision does not become the model for making the hard choices that the university will confront over the coming weeks and months. A May 5th email message from Athletics Director Steve Watson indicates that “oversight of the University’s operations now falls in under the Management, Policy, Command (MPC group), which is led by Tom Kelly and consists of other University leaders. All University functions flow up through ‘Sections’ that are tasked with planning for current and future operations.” We are concerned that the new MPC structure is replacing normal processes of university governance and policy-making, as described in the faculty handbook, involving a Faculty Council, University Senate, and a structure of departments, schools, and deans.

The pattern of making important academic decisions outside the bounds of shared governance bodies predates this crisis and thus amplifies our concerns. The decision to offer retirement incentives for tenured faculty in the VTIP program this past fall, for example, had enormous implications for the undergraduate curriculum and for the viability of graduate programs. Yet department chairs, graduate program directors, and even deans had no role in formulating the program or ensuring that its impact on the university’s core academic mission could be gauged beforehand. Cuts made to international programming and English language instruction over the past several years were similarly made without any meaningful participation or evaluation of faculty involved in such programs. Such participation might have ensured that any retrenchments in this area would not have actually cost the university more money than they saved, as seems to be the case. With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, engaging faculty—both individually and through their networks—will remain crucial to the continued success and viability of instructional, research, programmatic and student concerns at LUC.

Crises underscore, rather than weaken, the importance of shared governance. Painful decisions such as cutting academic programs, or furloughing or laying off faculty and staff, are not just fiscal decisions to be made by budget officers. They are also academic decisions, and their full impact on our core educational mission can be evaluated beforehand only with substantial faculty participation in policy-making. Shared governance concerns are not about reaching 100% consensus. Neither are they intended to slow down the decision-making process unreasonably. Involving faculty in difficult decisions leads to more widely supported outcomes, and may, in fact, identify a variety of creative solutions. As the AAUP statement “On Institutional Problems Resulting from Financial Exigency” states:

There should be early, careful, and meaningful faculty involvement in decisions relating to the reduction of instructional and research programs. The financial conditions that bear on such decisions should not be allowed to obscure the fact that instruction and research constitute the essential reasons for the existence of the university. Given a decision to reduce the overall academic program, it should then become the responsibility of the faculty to determine where within the program reductions should be made.

We ask the administration to inform faculty of their role within the new “Management, Policy, and Command” group and to explain the relationship between this new structure and the regularly constituted university bodies and lines of authority.

Crises are moments of truth for individuals, institutions, and entire societies. They can bring people together or pit them against one another. The mechanisms of shared governance provide a means by which we might all work together to steer Loyola University Chicago through this difficult time.

 

Sincerely,

 

Benjamin Johnson, History

Ian Cornelius, English

Devorah Schoenfeld, Theology

Rhys Williams, Sociology

Sherrie Weller, English

Elizabeth Coffman, Communication

David Ingram, Philosophy

Abby Annala, Library

Reuben Keller, IES

John Pincince, History

Alec Stubbs, Philosophy

Paige Warren, English

 

Federal Appeals Court Blocks Duquesne Union

Given last week’s other clear signs of how fragile our democracy is, it might have been easy to miss this incredibly discouraging ruling from a federal appeals court, with potentially enormous implications for Catholic and other religiously affiliated institutions like universities and hospitals. Duquesne has succeeded in denying its adjuncts the right to unionize, under the claim of a religious exemption to the National Labor Relations Act. Worse yet, the university was supported by the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities. Loyola has in past filings with the National Labor Relations Board claimed such an exemption, which if upheld would allow them to decertify the SEIU union that represents lecturers and adjuncts. And if employers like Loyola can claim exemption from labor law under the guise of “religious freedom,” can they also be free from anti-discrimination or workplace safety statutes? Given the Republican stronghold on judicial appointments, even if they start losing elections this is one of the ways they will perpetuate economic inequality, in this case joined by the self-professed advocates of “social justice.”

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2020/01/29/federal-appeals-court-blocks-adjunct-union-duquesne

President’s letter of Aug 16, 2019

Dear Colleagues:

Loyola’s chapter of the AAUP welcomes you back for the start of a new school year.

The new year gives us much to be thankful for and much to look forward to. It is also an occasion to reflect on the year concluded, which was in many respects a challenging one for the educational and social justice mission of our university and for principles of shared governance and academic freedom. The Spring semester of 2019 saw a strike by graduate student teachers seeking union recognition; challenges to academic freedom in the form of a restrictive media policy that brought national condemnation and a new speakers’ contract (both policies were rapidly withdrawn); the unilateral decision by President Jo Ann Rooney to create a consolidated Provost position that will oversee both medical and academic operations; massive cuts of the English Language Learner Program (ELLP); concerns about the administration’s handling of numerous retaliation and harassment complaints in the Institute of Pastoral Studies; and a nearly complete closure of the Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA).

Early this summer the outgoing officers of the AAUP communicated our chapter’s concerns to the Board of Trustees and conveyed our grave doubts about Dr. Rooney’s leadership as Loyola’s President. Even this effort at communication was stymied, however. Loyola’s administration no longer reports the current membership of our Board of Trustees. (Outdated records may be found in documents filed with the IRS.) The Phoenix reported on our letter and the response to it from the Chair of the Board. Our letter also received a reply from Senior Vice President Wayne Magdziarz, who wrote to the Phoenix defending the content and unilateralism of President Rooney’s leadership. The AAUP’s outgoing Appeals Advocate, Prof. Pamela Caughie, responded to him.

One of the points made in the AAUP letter to the Board concerned fundraising, or rather the lack of it.  A 2018 report from Moody’s Investor Service ranked Loyola highly for financial management and cash on hand, but noted “Fundraising lower than peers.” That negative judgement was offset by Moody’s expectation that Loyola would “launch … a campaign for its sesquicentennial campaign in 2020,” but President Rooney has indicated to the Faculty Senate that there will be no such campaign.

The same Moody’s report affirmed that “a critical strategic initiative is the expansion of [Loyola’s] existing global footprint through growing study abroad and international students.” Disbanding ELLP and reductions to our roles in the Beijing and Rome Centers[CI1]  hardly seem consistent with that “critical strategic initiative.” This coming year we will try to document the fiscal and educational impact of the drastic cuts to ELLP.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reported in July that Loyola is one of the universities that spends the smallest portion of tuition and fees on actual instruction. This coming year, we will seek to unpack this figure and learn why spending at Loyola is skewed away from instruction. Loyola’s debt weighs heavily here. We will also inquire whether administrative operations have grown at the expense of academic programs in recent years. Loyola’s AAUP officers are concerned that the academic cuts made under Rooney are greater in scope, and more deleterious to our core educational mission, than most of us have recognized.  Some sense of the educational and pedagogic losses can be gleaned from the attached description by Professor Marilyn Dunn of LUMA’s operations and the thwarting of an effort to bring the museum under the umbrella of the College of Arts and Sciences.

The country and the world are in need of the kinds of liberal education offered at Loyola.  As Wesleyan University President Michael Roth put it in the wake of the terrorist murders in El Paso, we need “civic institutions that respect the diversity of our country and protect its most vulnerable inhabitants . . . [colleges and universities] must promote civic preparedness so that our students can learn from those with a variety of political, moral and aesthetic views without this openness compromising their abilities to fight fascism when it rears its ugly head.”

How well is Loyola fulfilling this mission?  We hope that in the coming year all of our colleagues, from tenured full professors to graduate instructors, will help form and participate in our efforts to protect Loyola’s educational mission and ensure that its leadership lives up to our professed values.  The first faculty meetings sponsored by the AAUP will take place as follows, with locations to be announced soon:

Lake Shore Campus: Thursday, September 12 at 3:00.

Water Tower Campus:  Wednesday, September 18 at 3:00.

 

Sincerely,

Benjamin Johnson, Department of History and Institute of Environmental Sustainability

Ian Cornelius, Department of English