BCAAUP Raises Awareness For Lack Of Faculty Influence At BC
Published: Monday, April 23, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 20:01
Last week, the Boston College chapter of the American Association of University Professors (BCAAUP) hosted two events on campus as part of Quality for Higher Education National Awareness Week. BCAAUP is one of 59 organizations across the country that support the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education, an initiative which planned the week that saw university organizations from Massachusetts to California host events to raise awareness about the importance of a faculty voice in the future of higher education.
On Wednesday, BCAAUP hosted “Faculty Speak Up/Speak Out,” a meeting for all faculty and graduate students to express their concerns about faculty participation in university decisions. Many of the topics of discussion were not new to the organization.
“When we sent out a faculty survey earlier this year, the same issues came up that we were discussing when BCAAUP originally formed,” said Susan Michalczyk, assistant director of the BC Honors Program and vice president of the American Association of University Professors. “Major issues we are still discussing are equality for non-tenured professors and shared governance.”
According to Michalczyk, BC reflects the national trend of cutting non-tenured professors and forcing tenured professors to teach more and larger classes.
“We’ve lost full time and part time non-tenured faculty in recent years whose courses have been cut after teaching for 15 years, who will now have to survive teaching two courses for about $12,000 a semester with no benefits,” she said.
BC is relatively unique, however, in the lack of shared governance that faculty are awarded.
“Faculty want to participate in something where their time and energy is going to be respected,” Michalczyk said. “We want shared governance—we want faculty to serve in more than just an advisory capacity regarding major University decisions. BC lacks a faculty senate, something that many other universities have.”
The BCAAUP also discussed more recent issues in their meeting.
“We talked about John Shea and the academic freedom issue,” Michalczyk said. “We also agreed it was appropriate to ask for the resignation of Father Schaeffer.”
The administration’s handling of another current issue, the Belfast Project, represents to the 120 members of BCAAUP an example of problems between BC administration and faculty that the organization was created to fix.
“We received a non-response on the Belfast Project,” Michalczyk said. “We sent a letter to the president that voiced our concerns about the issue and then received a response from Dean Quigley, which was surprising because we didn’t write to him. This was an example of a non-response. Questions are asked, and the answer comes from someone else in a fashion that does not answer the question.”
BCAAUP hosted a second event on Thursday that invited undergraduates to meet with faculty and discuss ways in which they could work together to improve the University.
“My experience with BCAAUP is that they share a lot of my concerns about issues such as academic freedom,” said Sean Sweeney, A&S ’14, a student who attended Thursday’s event. “From what I’ve seen, BCAAUP is very receptive to what students think, and I believe its members focus on how to best serve students.”
Topics discussed at this event included diversity on campus, housing, and the manner in which student organizations and the Student Programs Office work together. Though Sweeney believes that undergraduates may be more concerned with issues that directly affect them, he believes that students who have attended BCAAUP events understand that the quality of education at BC is related to issues that the BCAAUP fights for which may not have a direct effect on students.
“A lot of students are not directly impacted by a faculty senate or the way that faculty represent themselves to the administration, but eventually we are tangentially impacted by that,” Sweeney said. “If the faculty have a better system of representation, I feel like that translates into a better education experience.”
Michalczyk and the BCAAUP recognize the value of a strong relationship between students and the faculty to create positive change for both groups on campus.
“The administration pays more attention to students than they do faculty,” Michalczyk said. “It is the efforts of students that have created change. Because of both student and faculty awareness, we got Father Schaeffer’s resignation. I think we have finally reached a place where we are all coming together for everyone’s best interests.”