A national association of university professors can sanction the UNC System for alleged violations of academic freedom, the president of the group’s North Carolina conference said Thursday.
A decision from the American Association of University Professors could come as early as the summer as AAUP leaders scrutinize a 38-page report the group released Thursday alleging political interference in campus governance and alleged racism on campuses. North Carolina.
The penalty would not be financial, but it would serve as a warning to professors across the country that the AAUP sees “unsatisfactory academic governance conditions,” according to the association’s website.
The report, based on interviews with more than 50 people across the UNC system, denounced the lack of faculty involvement in key decisions and said system leaders are reinforcing structural racism and classism in North Carolina. .
The report flagged examples across multiple campuses and focused in particular on high-profile controversies at UNC-Chapel Hill, including the back-and-forth over the tenure of journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, the saga surrounding the removal of the Confederate statue from Silent Sam. on campus and the pressure exerted on the UNC Center for Civil Rights.
“The University of North Carolina system is in trouble, and not the kind of trouble that record enrollments or strong rankings can fix,” the report said. “It’s the kind of problem that rots and spreads.”
A spokesperson for the university system said the report contains “countless errors” and provided a response letter from Kimberly van Noort, the system’s senior vice president for academic affairs.
“You paint a relentlessly somber portrait of one of the strongest, most vibrant and most productive university systems in the nation,” he wrote. “It is almost impossible to square the bleak portrait he has created with the thriving campuses we know and love.”
Because of the report’s findings, the AAUP is considering a rare sanction for the state’s university system, and its Colleges and Universities Governance Committee will decide the issue at a meeting in early summer, the AAUP spokeswoman said by email. Kelly Benjamin.
Michael Behrent, a history professor at Appalachian State University and president of the AAUP of North Carolina, said there is still “a window” for political and establishment leaders to respond. He also called on professors to organize and said that if sanctions are imposed, it could be more difficult for the UNC system to recruit the best professors.
“Do you want to attend an institution that the professors themselves are running away from?” Behrent said during a news conference at UNC-Chapel Hill. “This is a wonderful system… I hope it gets fixed.”