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
WU-AAUP representatives met on 24 July with WU Council of Chairs representatives, who had previously met with administrators as detailed in the Faculty President's email of 19 July. In addition to the information there, we learned that the discussion of principles and values began in October 2016, that it resulted in the decision not to outsource facilities work, that the decision to move to late shifts was communicated to housekeeping staff on 13 June, that they were asked to decide by 30 June whether to change shifts or accept a severance package, and that the shift differential is 50 cents/hour. This informational conversation is continuing.
All faculty present agreed that we would like to see workers empowered to speak for themselves and to act on their own behalf, if this is what they want (there is every reason to think it is).
Willamette's AAUP Advocacy Chapter regrets the departure of many of our fellow workers, and the difficult scheduling faced by others. We affirm the right of all employees to participate freely in decisions directly affecting their livelihoods and wellbeing, where this will mean a permanent consultative structure with assurances of complete independence between their continued employment and participation in administrative decision-making.
WU-AAUP Affirmation of Consultative & Transparent Decision-Making
The Willamette University Advocacy Chapter of the American Association of University Professors affirms the guiding principles of the 2016 Joint Agreement on Shared Governance, Consultative Decision-Making and Communication.* The proposed schedule changes for custodial and technical staff violate these guiding principles and detract from efforts to create a more fair and inclusive campus community.
We affirm the right of staff to participate freely in decisions directly affecting their livelihoods and wellbeing, where this will mean a permanent consultative structure with assurances of complete independence between their continued employment and participation in administrative decision-making.
We call for immediate suspension of plans to change the schedules of custodial and technical staff, and for such schedule changes to remain suspended until a review of the proposal is conducted, with full opportunity for staff to represent their own interests and shape this policy that so directly impacts them.