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By Mangosuthu Buthelezi
Memories of a long brotherhood tempered in common struggle
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Topic - American Association Of University Professors
More adjunct and part-time professors across America are moving to unionize to improve their pay, their benefits and to have a voice that administrations will listen to.
Marc Oestreich, a legislative analyst at the Heartland Institute, got some basic facts wrong in his Thursday column, and his claims about "for-profit" higher education need a reality check ("Obama's fake education reform," Commentary).
Despite providing excellent opportunities for atypical learners and improved graduation rates among minorities, for-profit colleges have become synonymous with "diploma mills," thanks in large part to a determination to destroy them, evidenced by the Obama administration and its congressional allies. The federal government is positioning itself to destroy an industry that has done more for minorities and the economically disadvantaged - who often find it difficult to get admitted to and afford old-fashioned nonprofit colleges - than any act of government could hope to achieve.
University professors, like schoolteachers, enjoy considerable public admiration. Union leaders, on the other hand, are viewed as opportunists. Gallup polls in 2008-09 found that 54 percent of the population believe college teachers have high ethical standards whereas only 16 percent think union leaders do.
"In his television programs, [Glenn] Beck has referred to Professor [Frances Fox] Piven dozens of times, describing her as 'an enemy of the Constitution' intent on bringing about the 'collapse of our economic system.' Responding to an article that Professor Piven published in the January 10 issue of The Nation saying that unemployed people should be staging mass protests, Mr. Beck asked in his January 17 television show, 'Is that not inciting violence? Is that not asking for violence?' Public demonstrations can of course be entirely peaceful. Even civil disobedience is typically nonviolent. Mr. Beck's remarks are unjustified." - American Association of University Professors President Cary Nelson, Jan. 31.
The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) established a fine code on academic freedom in 1940. The freedom of professors to express their views must be respected, it insisted, and this certainly applied to religious speech. Its directive to college administrators was plain: "Limitations of academic freedom because of religious or other aims of the institution should be clearly stated in writing at the time of the appointment."
My alma mater has a problem, which could be coming to an alma mater near you. The latest chapter in the 120-year history of H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College has all the earmarks of a scandal that could happen anywhere. All it takes is a crisis or the passage of time — and opportunists.