AAUP Chapter Report

Indiana University - South Bend

Academic Freedom Concerns at IUSB Raclin School of the Arts

This fall, a simmering issue of required student attendance at events in IUSB’s School of the Arts has come to a boil. Students and faculty have been complaining about student events attendance for some time, but the actions of Dean Tom Miller (Prof. Theater) have caused an outcry. According to a fall area coordinators’ meeting minutes, “The Dean stated that faculty non-compliance with events attendance policies and procedures will result in financial penalties to the area in which the non-compliant faculty members reside.”

The Events Attendance handout from the Dean’s office states: “If a student fails to attend the required number of events stipulated, the instructor is required to automatically reduce the course grade by one full letter grade.” Faculty members are given punch cards, which they have to give to students; they must then follow up to make sure that the students attend the required number of events. A number of non-tenured faculty members complain that they were pressured to go along with the Dean’s program. Other faculty members complain that his policy violates academic freedom, and the Dean has retaliated against them for objecting.

Students in a number of required general education courses taught by Arts faculty are required to attend four events each semester from a list chosen under the authority of the Dean, Associate Dean, and their non-teaching staff. Faculty members teaching these courses are mostly non-tenured. They would have to add content-related events (museum exhibitions, plays, music performances, etc.) to their course requirements. Faculty argue that they should have the academic freedom to individually choose events appropriate to their course content. In a related issue, students complain that they have to spend their own money for some events, despite the fact that $40,000 is budgeted by the Student Government Association for support of the School of the Arts students’ events attendance.

Vice Chancellor Guillaume has met with some faculty on these issues but has chosen to do nothing about these violations, despite the fact that Indiana University has adopted the AAUP guidelines on Academic Freedom. Faculty members have started meeting without the Dean or Associate Dean to discuss their objections. The Executive Committee of the Indiana Conference of the AAUP has agreed to support the faculty’s efforts to change the Dean’s policy to comply with Academic freedom guidelines.

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