AAUP Wants Virginia to Fight Records Request

May 7, 2010

The American Association of University Professors and the American Civil Liberties Union are asking the University of Virginia to reject demands from Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli for documents on the research of a global warming expert who once worked at the university. Many conservative groups believe that documents of climate change experts will confirm their skepticism about global warming. The AAUP/ACLU argument is not about global warming, but about the rights of professors to do controversial work.

Rachel Levinson, senior counsel with the AAUP, said in a press announcement: "The breadth of Attorney General Cuccinelli's request suggests that it is meant to intimidate faculty members and discourage them from pursuing politically controversial work; it's a shot across the bow to all public universities in Virginia. Cuccinelli's injection of politics into the academic arena is profoundly counter not only to the interests of scholars in climate science but to the interests of the state's flagship institution in academic excellence and dispassionate inquiry and to the public interest as a whole in vigorous debate."

A spokeswoman for the university said that it has requested and received an extension, until July, to comply with the request. She said that "the attorney general has broad authority to initiate an investigation such as this. And we are required by law to comply." She added that the Faculty Senate and the AAUP "are the ones able to initiate a public debate about state policy and whether the policy needs to be reviewed."

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