Tuesday, October 1, 2019

CIVILITY

The new UVU draft policy on Faculty Rights and Responsibilities refers several times to a responsibility for civility. The AAUP has emphasized the need for civil interactions as we work together at a university, but points out the problems that ensue when civility becomes a criterion for tenure or in termination proceedings.

Here a new essay on civility from the latest issue of the AAUP Journal of Academic Freedom:

https://www.aaup.org/JAF10/compulsory-civility-and-necessity-uncivil-disobedience#.XZQciy2ZM0o

A quotation from the piece:

Some faculty who have been pushed out, fired, bullied, or treated unfairly in tenure and promotion processes have come forward to tell their stories. Steven Salaita is a prime example. He fought back in writing and in court. In 2015 UIUC settled with Salaita for $875,000 and no gag order, but also no job. He writes, “If I could convey a single point about the experience of being fired and ending up as a news story, it would be that oppressive institutions never subdue the agility of mind and spirit. Humans can be disciplined, but humanity comprises a tremendous antidisciplinary force” (Salaita 2015, 4). Noting the administrative rush to issue civility statements and policies, form task forces, and schedule courses following the Salaita firing, AAUP president Rudy Fichtenbaum cautions, “Trying to stifle free expression and academic freedom in the name of civility is at best misguided and at worst a cynical attempt to undermine democracy.” He notes that some of the most important gains for women and racialized groups were due to “uncivil behavior” (Fichtenbaum 2014), or what Crenshaw and others label “backtalk.”

Civility is wonderful as an aspirational goal. It can be devastating when required.

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