We are the Willamette University Advocacy Chapter of the American Association of University Professors, representing faculty members across the colleges at Willamette University including CAS, Law, AGSM, and CST. We affirm that faculty expertise in pedagogy and the authority of faculty must determine modes of instruction. Faculty have the right to choose how to teach during the current compounding COVID-19 and wildfire crises--whether in person, by hybrid structures, or remotely.
The AAUP’s Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities, recently reaffirmed by the Association of Governing Boards, specifies that the “faculty has primary responsibility for” fundamental areas including “methods of instruction.” Moreover, the Report of the AAUP Special Committee on Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans Universities stresses that such guidelines for shared governance need to be maintained especially in exceptional times:
[H]owever cumbersome faculty consultation may at times be, the importance and value of such participation become even greater in exigent times than in more tranquil times. The imperative that affected faculties be consulted and assume a meaningful role in making critical judgments reflects more than the values of collegiality; given the centrality of university faculties in the mission of their institutions, their meaningful involvement in reviewing and approving measures that vitally affect the welfare of the institution . . . becomes truly essential at such times.
Further, we assert that an ethic of care requires that all individuals be allowed to make choices regarding their own health, safety, and the needs of their family. Given new uncertainty about the health impacts of smoke inhalation for all groups and on the severity of Covid-19 cases, as well as the impact of wildfires on the state’s testing capacity, no one should be forced to return to in-person classes against their will, and no one should be retaliated against for choosing to teach remotely.
The Willamette University administration should extend the same choice of mode of instruction to CAS, Law, AGSM and CST faculty and allow flexibility for any member of the faculty during the present pandemic. We write to affirm the agency, lived knowledge, and choice of all people who are part of this educational institution: people whose job it is to conceive and teach the whole educational experience, staff who support the delivery, and students who participate in the process.
AAUP Executive Team