Indiana Conference and Purdue AAUP Reclaim Student Rights

By Monica Owens

This spring the Indiana AAUP con­ference and the Purdue AAUP chap­ter earned another victory: Kaplan-run Purdue University Global has stopped requiring students to sign mandatory arbitration agreements. The agreement, contained within documents required for enrollment in the online university, stripped students of their legal rights to sue or join a class-action lawsuit in cases of abuse. Kaplan, a for-profit university purchased by Purdue in 2017 and charged with running its online campus, has been the subject of multiple federal and state inves­tigations for misleading marketing, inaccurate job placement numbers, and other false claims.

Purdue Global announced the decision to drop the language about mandatory arbitration after the Indiana AAUP and allies brought it to light. Members alerted the regional accrediting agency, the Higher Learning Com­mission, to the policy, and eight AAUP chapters and several uni­versity senates in the state passed resolutions demanding an end to the mandatory arbitration provi­sion. The victory arrives on the heels of another faculty win at Purdue last fall, when the Indiana AAUP conference’s public pressure campaign ended the use of nondis­closure agreements as a condition of faculty employment.

Indiana AAUP chapters have suc­ceeded in limiting the privatization of public higher education, which threatens to erode academic freedom, shared governance, edu­cational quality, and, ultimately, student success. In doing so, they have established a precedent for faculty members around the country who want to ensure that high-quality teaching for students, not corporate profit, is the first priority at colleges and universities.

Is your institution taking steps to expand corporate-run online programs? You can take action. Start by joining fellow academics in pledging support for high-quality teaching at

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