Indiana AAUP Forces Reversal on NDAs

By Monica Owens

In September, the Indiana AAUP conference scored a big win for faculty: Purdue University Global agreed to stop requiring faculty members to sign nondisclosure agreements, or NDAs, as a condition of employment. The announcement followed the public release of the NDA and a tenacious pressure campaign led by Indiana AAUP members.

Purdue University Global was created after the 2017 acquisition of for-profit Kaplan University by Purdue University. The NDA, which was carried over from Kaplan, contained a gag clause and work-for-hire language that required faculty members to waive their intellectual property rights in their own original course content. (See the Faculty Forum column in this issue for further discussion of Kaplan and Purdue University Global.)

In the face of the privatization of core academic functions, faculty members in Indiana organized. The Indiana AAUP launched a coordinated effort—involving Purdue faculty, students, university senate leaders, and state and national AAUP members—to educate the public about shameful practices at Purdue University Global and to push for change. With the support of the Indiana AAUP, higher education advocates at the Century Foundation brought to light the university’s use of forced arbitration agreements for students, a tactic used in the forprofit college industry to restrict students’ rights to join a class action when seeking restitution for injury by the institution. Although the faculty’s campaign compelled the university to reverse its position on NDAs, as of this writing the forced arbitration agreements are still in use. The Indiana AAUP plans to continue statewide efforts to reclaim higher education from corporate control, restore faculty governance, and bring an end to abusive practices toward students at Purdue University Global.

If you are facing challenges with privatization on your campus, join the fight and make your voice heard by taking the AAUP’s privatization survey at https://www.aaup.org/resisting-privatization.

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