Academic Freedom Concerns

We’re concerned about academic freedom.

Union members have identified a number of priorities for our upcoming round of bargaining starting next January. Issues of academic freedom are our second highest priority, trailing only salaries as the top concern. We’ve identified the need to remain vigilant to ensure that the growing national trend to undermine tenure protections, dictate suitable research and teaching topics, and pack governing boards with extremist political agendas does not happen here in Oregon.

We’re aware of the threat in Oregon.

No state is immune from the current political upheavals. Although Florida and Texas have made the most headlines on these issues, at least 57 bills attacking academic freedom have been introduced in 23 states, including three bills in the Oregon House. Regardless of whether these bills pass, the threat to academic freedom is real. Union members have also identified many non-legislative, more insidious forms of restrictions on academic freedom at UO, including those occasioned by the IHP hiring process, grant funding restricting research topics, and student demand determining teaching areas.

We’re in this for the long haul.

As we celebrate United Academics’ 10th year of progress, we realize we have much work to do to ensure that academic freedom remains not just a buzzword but a principle infused throughout our governance structures and processes. United Academics’ mission statement begins, “We promote and defend quality public higher education.” Doing so will require us to work together to keep constant vigilance. As Mother Jones said, “Reformation, like education, is a journey, not a destination.”