The National Labor Relations Board on Friday upheld an earlier, Atlanta-based NLRB judge's decision that Laurus Technical Institute violated the National Labor Relations Act when it enacted a "no gossip" rule for employees, including instructors. The for-profit institution's policy prohibited employees from talking about other employees' personal lives while they were not present, other employees' professional lives if their supervisors were not present, and spreading rumors.
The earlier decision found the policy to be so "overly broad and unlawful" as to prohibit employees from complaining about any aspect of their work lives, and the national board agreed. It also agreed that Laurus was in violation of the labor relations act when it terminated an admissions employee who was found to be in violation of the no-gossip rule. Jeffrey A. Schwartz, Laurus's attorney, said via email that the decision was "not well founded."
The South Carolina Legislature has approved a measure -- signed into law by Governor Nikki Haley, a Republican -- that will require the College of Charleston and the University of South Carolina Upstate to spend $70,000 teaching works related to the founding of the United States. The measure is designed to punish the colleges for assigning gay-themed books last year. The measure is being called a "compromise" because initial versions of the legislation simply stripped the $70,000 (the cost of the gay-themed books used for first year programs) from the budgets of the colleges.
But a coalition of academic and civil liberties groups -- including the American Association of University Professors and the Modern Language Association -- issued a statement on Saturday denouncing the measure. "The provision is ostensibly a compromise, replacing a previous version in the House to cut funding in amounts to reflect the cost of the books," the statement says. "The version enacted poses exactly the same concerns as the initially proposed cuts: it represents unwarranted political interference with academic freedom and undermines the integrity of the higher education system in South Carolina. The history of the legislative debate makes it 100 percent clear that the legislature’s primary concern is to force schools to eliminate educational content that some legislators dislike, or risk financial penalties."
William Peace University is offering some (maybe a large share) of its tenured faculty members buyout offers of $30,000 contingent on their giving up their jobs and agreeing not to criticize the university, The News & Observer reported. The offers follow a letter from tenured faculty members criticizing the leadership of President Debra Townsley. Faculty members have questioned her financial decisions and cuts. Townsley led a process two years ago to make the one-time women's college coeducational, and many critics say that the improvements she promised would follow havent materialized. Townsley declined to comment, and board members indicated that they backed the president and had extended her contract.
The Faculty Senate at Blinn College has voted no confidence in Harold Nolte, the district president, The Eagle reported. Professors at the Texas community college said that there is no respect by the administration for shared governance and they object to numerous changes in which programs have been reorganized and class schedules changed. An underlying issue is the district's decision to hire six deans who took over duties that had been handled at the department and division level. Nolte said he was "very disappointed" in the vote but declined to comment further.
The University of Oregon has rejected a professor’s proposal to conduct a campus climate survey to obtain data about sexual assault on campus, The Register-Guard reported. Jennifer Freyd, a longtime Oregon professor of psychology, said she asked the university for $30,000 to pay 1,000 participants for their time and for student email addresses to distribute the survey. She and several graduate students would have completed the project over the summer for free, to meet an internal reporting deadline for a faculty body and in response to recent calls from the White House for colleges and universities to collect such data.
Freyd, who studies sexual violence and has worked with members of Congress on military sexual trauma policy, says the Oregon administration expressed early enthusiasm about her project. So she was surprised last week to discover the university had rejected the proposal, she said, noting that she was shocked by the university’s “tone” in the Register-Guard report. Robin Holmes, vice president for student affairs, was quoted as saying she worried that the survey could produce “confirmation bias in the results." Freyd said she has been publicly critical of Oregon’s response to a high-profile sexual assault case on that campus, and filed a federal complaint. But she said she is a scientist and her survey tool is similar to one the White House recommends.
Via email, a university spokeswoman said the university would carry out the research, but that it could be "best be accomplished" by outside experts working in conjunction with university staff. Freyd says she’s not opposed to the university conducting its own study, since more data makes for a better understanding of what’s going on at Oregon – but she also wants to carry out her own project.