We Stand with TAU

Support the TAU Grade-In
Mon-Wed, Nov 30-Dec 2, 2015, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
3rd floor, Seibert administration building

From the WMU-AAUP officers and Executive Committee:

As many faculty members may be aware, TAU (the graduate teaching assistants union at WMU) is now engaged in formal talks with the administration about enrollment fees. Currently, graduate teaching assistants at WMU are required to pay about 8 percent of their wages back to the university in the form of enrollment fees. TAU is attempting to negotiate an elimination of these fees.

TAU has requested the support of the the WMU-AAUP for a three-day labor action that TAU is planning for Monday, November 30, through Wednesday, December 2, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. The action is a “grade in,” to take place on the third floor of the Seibert administration building, during which members of TAU will engage in what they describe as “a lawful and peaceful demonstration of the professional work that [they] do as university employees.” This labor action is an attempt by TAU to mobilize their members with the goal of convincing the administration to eliminate enrollment fees for GTAs.

The WMU-AAUP officers and Executive Committee recommend to the faculty that we take a public position in support of TAU in this negotiation. As teachers and mentors to these students, and as members of a professional union that sets the standard for organized labor in higher education, we are choosing to stand with them as they stand up for what they believe is right. And as faculty members, many of us with tenure and all of us with the protections of our union and contractual rights to academic freedom, shared governance, and due process, we want to make sure they know that we have their backs.

To show your support for TAU, please tell your students who are TAU members that you support them, post messages of support on social media, or even stop by to say hello during the grade-in. They’ll be grading-in Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of this week, November 30-December 2, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the 3rd floor of the Seibert administration building.

For more information, please visit the TAU Facebook page.

#StrongerTogether  #WeStandWithTAU

In solidarity,
The officers and Executive Committee of the WMU-AAUP

Special invitation to WMU Women Faculty of Color

From the Women’s Caucus of the College of Arts and Sciences:

The CAS Women’s Caucus will host a brown bag lunch gathering for Women Faculty of Color on Wednesday, December 2, from 12 noon to 1:30 p.m. in the WMU Center for the Humanities (2500 Knauss Hall).

This gathering is open to all WMU women faculty of color in all colleges.

In addition to networking, we will share information about the Faculty Women of Color in the Academy National Conference in Champaign, IL, April 1-2, 2016, and explain how the CAS Women’s Caucus will support colleagues to attend this conference.

Come to network and to share your input on issues facing women faculty of color at WMU. We are planning a speaker visit in spring 2016 and your input will shape the focus of that visit.

For more information, contact Dr. Chien-Juh Gu, Associate Professor of Sociology. Call (269) 387-5243 or email chien-juh.gu@wmich.edu.

We hope to see you!
CAS Women’s Caucus

National AAUP President to Speak at WMU on December 7

“How to Invest in Higher Education”
Dr. Rudy Fichtenbaum
President of the American Association of University Professors
and Professor of Economics at Wright State University

Monday, December 7, 2015, at 4 p.m.
157-159 Bernhard Center

As part of our year-long celebration of the AAUP Centennial, the WMU-AAUP will host national AAUP President Rudy Fichtenbaum on Monday, December 7. Dr. Fichtenbaum will speak on “How to Invest in Higher Education.”

Click on the flier to enlarge.Flier for Rudy Fichtenbaum lecture on December 7, 2015

As states have divested from higher education, costs have increasingly shifted to students and their families. With students now facing unprecedented college debt, Dr. Fichtenbaum challenges the conventional wisdom that there is no public money for higher education and proposes new sources of revenue.

This event is free and open to the public. Faculty, students, staff, administration, alumni, parents, and members of the community are invited to attend the lecture and participate in this important discussion.

The WMU-AAUP is a collective-bargaining chapter of the American Association of University Professors, comprising the 870 board-appointed faculty members of Western Michigan University. We are an active community of teachers, scholars, researchers, and artists committed to student success, academic excellence, public service, shared governance, and the preservation of higher education as a public good.

Academic Freedom brown bag discussion Nov. 11

Wednesday, November 11, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
157 Bernhard Center

AAUP 100 Years of Defending Academic FreedomAs we all know, academic freedom is critical to our abilities as faculty members to create vibrant scholarship and creative works and for authentic engagement with students. As part of our year-long AAUP Centennial celebration, we invite you to join with faculty colleagues for a lunchtime discussion of academic freedom, including:

  • what we can learn from recent national cases about academic freedom
  • how WMU can demonstrate its commitment to robust, critical, and honest dialogue
  • how campuses can reconcile calls for “civility” with academic freedom
  • the role of the AAUP (and the WMU-AAUP) in protecting academic freedom
  • how faculty, students, staff, and administrators can be partners in promoting academic freedom.

We invite you to bring your lunch, your ideas, and your questions about academic freedom to 157 Bernhard Center on Wednesday, November 11, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Stop by the Bernhard Center cafe to pick up some lunch or just brown-bag it. We’ll provide drinks (sodas and water).

Hope to see you there!

visual image of chapter logo "stronger together"The American Association of University Professors

Chapter meeting tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. (Friday, October 16)

The WMU-AAUP fall chapter meeting is tomorrow, Friday, October 16, at 1:30 p.m., in rooms 157-159 of the Bernhard Center.

Some of the agenda items we’re working on for tomorrow include the proposed 2016 chapter budget, workload reporting under Article 42, the Invisible Hours project, “alternative healthcare plan” discussions, the WMU support staff unionization effort, campus safety, and news about upcoming AAUP centennial celebration events.

Also, the WMU-AAUP staff will be accepting faculty donations to the WMU-AAUP Seita Scholar gift card fundraiser at the meeting tomorrow. Many thanks to everyone who has contributed so far.

All bargaining-unit members are encouraged to attend the chapter meeting. As always, there will be tasty snacks and lively conversation. Hope to see you there!

Save the date: Chapter meeting Friday, October 16

The WMU-AAUP fall chapter meeting is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Friday, October
16, in room of the 157 Bernhard Center.

Here are some of the agenda items we’re working on for the meeting:

  • Chapter budget proposal for 2016
  • Workload reporting under Article 42
  • WMU support staff unionization effort
  • What do professors do? The Invisible Hours project
  • “Alternative Healthcare Plan” discussions
  • APR&P results
  • Celebrating the national AAUP centennial

Please send your suggestions for agenda items to staff@wmuaaup.net.

All bargaining-unit members are encouraged to attend the chapter meeting. As always, there will be tasty snacks and lively conversation.

Photo of September 2014 chapter meeting

First-work/midterm grade policy and academic freedom

While the administration encourages all faculty to submit first-work and midterm grades, faculty members who prefer to use other methods of communicating feedback to students are within their rights. In other words, WMU-AAUP bargaining-unit faculty are not required to submit first-work or midterm grades.

It is of course important for students to receive meaningful feedback in response to their work and about their progress in their courses. However, the process of calculating and submitting first-work and midterm grades can add considerably to the workloads of faculty who are already providing substantive feedback to their students in more direct, detailed, and individualized ways.

At this point, faculty members have no way to know whether the extra work is justified because no data has been made available to us to demonstrate whether the submission of interim grades into a centralized system is an effective tool for improving student success rates or retention.

Additionally, how faculty evaluate student work is a matter of academic freedom, in accordance with Article 13 in the 2014-17 Agreement. The faculty’s right to academic freedom includes the right to make decisions about how and when to provide feedback.

To summarize, while the administration encourages faculty to submit first-work and midterm grades, you are not contractually obligated to do so. If it is your experience that first-work and midterm grades are helpful to the students in your classes, by all means please submit them as you see fit.

Whatever your decision, the WMU-AAUP leadership respects – and will continue to defend – your right to academic freedom.