By Yeelin Bacchus
A chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) has been officially recognized at Boston University.
Daniel Star, the co-president of the chapter and associate professor of philosophy, explained that university policies during the pandemic pushed faculty to discuss working conditions and form a chapter.
“Basically, at that early time we were saying that this was being imposed on us—LfA,” he said. “And that these decisions that the university made regarding how the students come back and how LfA is instituted were made without sufficient consultation with faculty, and were imposed on us from above.”
However, the formation of this chapter arose from more than the implementation of the Learn from Anywhere model. One example Star gave was the BU Hub.
“The creation of the Hub, for instance, was something that many faculty thought was imposed on them without sufficient consultation,” he said.
Before forming an AAUP chapter, faculty made their thoughts known through the Faculty or University Council. But these councils aren’t able to set policies.
“There are limits to what it can do, and so we would like to work with Faculty Council to achieve our goals, not against them,” Star said. “Faculty Council is unable to do more than ask questions and provide advice, and we would like to see mechanisms by which, say, perhaps Faculty Council could have more of a role in determining policies.”
Some policies that the AAUP chapter is interested in pursuing are shared governance as a goal in long-term university planning, and increasing the security of untenured employees and making sure they have the same voting rights and professors. Star says that the AAUP chapter at BU is committed to elevating the role of professors in university policy making.
“We identify as a chapter with the core values of the AAUP and that champions shared university governance academic freedom and economic security for all instructional and research employees,” he said.
Star explained that the chapter’s goal is to work with BU to realize these goals as AAUP chapters have a history of working with university administration. On April 6, they wrote to BU President Robert Brown and asked to meet with him, but they have yet to receive a response.
“We would be surprised if President Brown didn’t want to meet with us,” Star said. “That would be very interesting, given that the AAUP generally has this success in campuses where chapter presidents will meet with presidents of the university.”
Currently the chapter has about 40 members. They expect their membership to grow because of the success they had with a petition about LfA earlier this academic year, as well as the volume of faculty complaints.
Julia Carroll, a PhD candidate at BU, joined as a graduate student.
“It’s an exciting development for the BU community, for instructors (tenure- and non-tenure track) and students (graduate and undergraduate) alike,” she wrote in an email. “The greater the quality of life experienced at the instructor level, the higher quality instructional services we can provide our community of undergraduates. Everyone wins.”