The Agony of the AAUP

, Larry Scholer, Leave a comment

A look at the recent record of the American Association of University Professors reveals the real agenda of the academic freedom watchdog, according to Mal Kline [pictured] executive director of Accuracy in Academia.

In the April issue of the Capital Research Center’s Organization Trends, Kline finds that the AAUP consistently defends professors on the Left while paying, at most, lip service to those on the right. The AAUP is plagued with systemic bias, says Kline.

The AAUP bills itself as the guardian of academic freedom at colleges and universities, but the organization often allies itself with unsavory academics. The organization strongly supported Ward Churchill, the University of Colorado professor who described victims of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks as “little Eichmanns.” The AAUP came to the defense of Susan Rosenberg when John Jay College of Criminal Justice declined to renew her contract. Rosenberg, an adjunct professor at John Jay, had served 16 years in prison for an armed robbery committed while she was a member of the Weather Underground. Her 58-year sentence was commutted when President Bill Clinton pardoned her in his last days in office. The AAUP has also defended academic terror suspects Tariq Ramadan, Sami al-Arian, and Mohammed Yousry.

Conservative professors have a harder time getting assistance from the AAUP. David Deming, a tenured professor at the University of Oklahoma, lost his classes and office after writing a letter to the editor that many deemed offensive. The AAUP did not help him. Mike Adams, a professor at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, had his e-mail monitored by the university. The AAUP did not step in, although the organization has measures in place to safeguard against such abuses.

The ACLU, much-maligned by many conservatives, has a better record than the AAUP. Recently, a libertarian economist, Hans-Hermann Hoppe, has come under fire for remarks—on a possible link between homosexuals and saving habits—he made during a lecture. A student deemed the remarks offensive, and the University of Nevada-Las Vegas has vigorously pursued hearings on the matter. The AAUP has not stepped in; the ACLU has.

The message that the AAUP promotes in its literature is agreeable to both liberals and conservatives. David Horowitz used the AAUP’s 1940 statement on academic freedom to frame his academic bill of rights. In practice, however, the AAUP deviates from its mission. The board of the AAUP is stacked with academics with politically liberal credentials, and the general secretary, Roger Bowen, once came under fire from conservatives for when SUNY-New Paltz, where he was president, hosted a sex conference.

Out of a nationwide population of more than 1.1 million professors at more than 4000 colleges and universities, the AAUP has 45,000 members and 500 local campus chapters.

Larry Scholer is a staff writer at Accuracy in Academia.


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