From the Editor: Building Strength on Campus

By Michael Ferguson

The first few months of 2019 have seen a string of notable successes for AAUP chapters around the country. In Ohio, the Wright State University AAUP staged a midwinter strike that forced a return to ne­gotiations—and provided a reminder of the power of collective action—after the board of trustees imposed a contract that would have eroded union rights and damaged the quality of student education. The AAUP-AFT chapter representing full-time faculty members and graduate employees at Rutgers University was on the verge of striking this spring when it won a tentative agreement that included pay increases, improvements in job security, and new equity provisions (a separate bargaining unit representing part-time lecturers had not yet settled as of this writing). In Indiana, AAUP activists notched another victory in their fight against corporate practices at online Purdue University Global, this time by ending a requirement that students agree to mandatory arbitration. AAUP chapters in Oregon and Washington, meanwhile, successfully lobbied the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities to restore language on academic freedom and governance in its revised accreditation standards.

This issue of Academe takes a closer look at how faculty members are organizing through the AAUP to build strength on campus. The chapters featured in these pages have developed successful campaigns around vital faculty concerns, calling attention to problems such as inappropriate donor influence (at George Mason University), the exploitation of adjunct faculty labor (in the Colorado Community College System), and the lack of classroom protections against gun violence (at Oakland University).

These chapter success stories share key elements. From Wright State to Oakland University, from Indiana to Colorado, AAUP members have ampli­fied their voices—and brought pressure to bear on administrations—through the media. Chapters have built strength by forming coalitions with students, local labor organizations, and other groups. They have made connections with nearby AAUP chapters, coordinated actions with state AAUP conferences, and used AAUP policy statements and other resources from the national office. Finally, they have taken cre­ative approaches to organizing, finding ways to reach current and prospective members on even the most atomized campuses.

Campus chapters are the building blocks of the AAUP, and chapter power begins with AAUP mem­bers. So talk to your colleagues about the importance of AAUP membership. Use the poster included in this issue to make a public statement about why you are a member. If your campus does not yet have an AAUP chapter, find a group of like-minded faculty members and start one—all the information you’ll need to do so is at And whether you are a new member or an AAUP veteran, consider attend­ing our premier training event, the Summer Institute, to learn more about effective organizing. Together with your colleagues, you can strengthen the faculty voice on your campus and help defend the profession’s highest ideals.

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