Thursday, September 12, 2013

A civility policy—at a college?

     With the Accreds breathing down our necks, the Chancellor and at least one of our college presidents have been anxious to pass some sort of board policy regarding our embrace of “civility.” The problem, of course, is that such a policy could turn into a platform for disciplining faculty. Not good.
     That’s why the first draft of the proposed “civility policy” was nixed by, first, the IVC Academic Senate, and then the SC Academic Senate.
     It remains to be seen whether the new and improved draft will pass muster.
     In the meantime, there’s this:

Requiring Civility (Inside Higher Ed)


…The university [or Oregon] statement mentions civility twice in a section on faculty responsibilities, including that faculty are responsible for treating "students, staff, colleagues and the public fairly and civilly in discharging his or her duties and in accordance with this agreement." Civility clauses have long been of concern to advocates for professors. While it's hard to find people who are anti-civility, many academics note that requiring civility can become a tool for punishing those professors who speak out against their bosses or who push unpopular positions.
. . .
     Bill Harbaugh, professor of economics and moderator of the "UO Matters" blog, which is frequently critical of university policy, said decoupling academic freedom from free speech left room for administrators to punish those faculty – like him – who say things administrators don't like. He also objected to the idea that administrators would be the ones deciding what qualifies as "civil."
     The university has previously publicly accused Harbaugh of including “consistently anti-university” statements on his blog.
     “The university is place of higher learning,” warranting explicit protections of free speech, Harbaugh said. “The new policy takes out all the pro-free speech stuff and instead includes many restrictive rules about how faculty can be engaged in free speech. It’s aimed in part at limiting the critical faculty right to criticize the administration outside of [the formal university setting].”
     Michael Mauer, an AAUP senior labor adviser involved in contract negotiations, said the university’s counterproposal gutted union language that protects faculty free speech, in light of Garcetti.
     “It limits that to whatever the courts currently say is protected by the First Amendment, and we think it should be broader than that,” Mauer said, particularly as the counterproposal also rejects some union language guaranteeing faculty members the right to engage in criticism of institutional policy.
     And while there’s nothing wrong with an “aspirational” mention of civility, he said, including it as a “faculty responsibility” opens the door to potential disciplinary action for words that should be accepted within the "scope of vigorous debate."….


Anonymous said...

Can consistent and deliberate absence of communication be considered uncivil?

Anonymous said...

Any action, any word, any debate can and will be considered uncivil. They cant eliminate tenure, and they can dilute it's protection.

Anonymous said...

I heard some of that same clique of people who are always receiving awards and patting themselves on the back, have been a force behind the pushing of such a formalized, exlplicit civility policy.

Perhaps that explains all that special treatment they've been getting from Glenn Inc.

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