Professor sets off debate by writing that student requests to avoid discussions on rape law are limiting important parts of legal education. Some faculty say that they don't avoid the topic, but handle discussions in different ways than they do other subjects.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called for an adjunct instructor of English at Baruch College of the City University of New York to be suspended, following the instructor’s arrest this weekend for allegedly assaulting two police officers during an anti-policy brutality protest on the Brooklyn Bridge, the New York Observer reported. De Blasio also reportedly said that Eric Linsker, the instructor, should be “removed from his position” if found guilty. Linsker was charged with assault in the second degree, rioting in the first degree, criminal possession of a weapon, resisting arrest and unlawful possession of marijuana, according to the Observer. He allegedly tried to throw a metal garbage can at officers, who tried to arrest him before protesters intervened and injured the officers. Linsker did not return a request for comment.
Via email, a Baruch spokeswoman said that the college supports the “exercise of freedom of speech while deploring violence of any kind.” She said the investigation into Linsker’s actions is ongoing, but as of right now Linsker is scheduled to teach next semester (the fall term already is over). “The college will review all of the facts as they become available in order to decide if any additional action is warranted,” the spokeswoman said.
The Professional Staff Congress, CUNY’s faculty union, which is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, the American Association of University Professors, and other labor groups, said in a statement that it “vigorously defends” its members rights to due process under the union contract. “While we recognize that Mr. Linsker has been arrested and charged with serious unlawful acts, he has not yet been tried or found guilty of any crime,” the union said. “It would be premature and inappropriate for CUNY to take disciplinary action against him at this time.”
Ball State University’s Board of Trustees are worried that a controversial plan to weed out low-performing tenured faculty members is moving along too slowly, The Star Press reported. Terry King, Ball State’s provost, said last academic year that an official policy would be submitted by this fall, but he told trustees this month that the university needs more time. King said a “very small” number of problem professors already have been removed from their classrooms. But even if they don’t improve through mediation, they can’t be terminated without an official policy. A Ball State spokeswoman said the university has no additional comment.
Business meetings of disciplinary societies have been the site of debates (sometimes heated) over proposals to back the academic boycott of Israel. At least as of now, that's not the case for the American Historical Association. A petition was circulated that would have called on the AHA to support the academic boycott of Israel. But a letter from James Grossman, the association's executive director, in one of its publications states that a petition was submitted for consideration at the annual meeting early next year, but that the petition was rejected for not having enough members signing it and because the resolution as written went beyond matters " 'of concern to the association, to the profession of history, or to the academic profession.' " (The latter quotes are from association rules about matters that can be decided at the membership meeting.)
Via email, Grossman said that because the petition submitted was rejected, there is no agenda item related to the Israel boycott. But Grossman noted that association rules also outline procedures for resolutions to emerge from the floor at the meeting itself.
Union advocates applauded two decisions by the National Labor Relations Board last week, one of which protects the right of employees using work email for union communications. The other decision revises rules for union elections and could shorten the union election process. In the first case, that of Purple Communications and Communications Workers of America, the board ruled that employees communicating with each other on work computers – but not on work time – are free to discuss union activity. The decision did not address communication with non-employees, however.
Aaron Nisenson, chief counsel for the American Association of University Professors, said via email that the decision as it pertains to higher education has particular relevance to faculty members, who frequently communicate via email. “The ability to use email to communicate is essential to faculty, particularly contingent faculty, who are often dispersed and may not be able to speak directly to each other regularly,” he added.
Referring to the second decision, in which the NLRB issued a final rule to modernize representation-case procedures, Nisenson said: “Given the speed at which elections will be conducted under the revised election rules, the ability to communicate via email is extremely important to ensuring that faculty members are fully informed.” The new rule, which takes effect in April, provides for electronic filing and transmission of election petitions, requires that contact information for all eligible voters be included in voter lists – which is especially important for contingent faculty members – and attempts to streamline others aspects of the election process.
“Previously, the results of elections could be tied up for years in pointless litigation, delaying the results of a democratic process, a situation that would be intolerable in any other context,” Nisenson said.
William Herbert, executive director of the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions, housed at Hunter College of the City University of New York, said both decisions were “good for advocates and union members,” although he said that tenure-track faculty members at private institutions are generally unprotected from the email decision under current case law emanating from the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1980 decision in NLRB v. Yeshiva University. According to that decisions, tenure-line faculty members at private institutions have managerial responsibilities and therefore are limited in their ability to form unions.