Tuesday, May 22, 2007

American Association of University Professors (AAUP) Expresses Concern About Balthaser/Boehm Case

Here's a letter of concern we just received from the AAUP's Program in Academic Freedom and Tenure regarding the non-rehiring (i.e., firing) of two D.O.C. TAs, Scott Boehm and Benjamin Balthaser.
May 21, 2007

Dear Mr. Boehm and Mr. Balthasar:

We have reviewed the documents you sent us concerning your status as graduate teaching assistants in the Dimensions of Culture (DOC) program in the Thurgood Marshall College of the University of California, San Diego. According to your account of the events in question, you were each informed during the second week in April by the director of the DOC program that your appointments as teaching assistants in the program would not be renewed for the 2007-08 academic year.

In your respective April meetings with the director, you state you were told that the decision against renewing your appointments was not because of concern about the quality of your teaching, which apparently has been evaluated quite favorably, but instead because you were “undermining” the program and “disrespectful” of the director’s policies. You further indicate that each of you has been active in questioning the academic content and direction of the DOC program.

If what you have stated to us is essentially accurate, then the decision not to renew your appointments presents a troubling academic freedom issue. For what this Association has to say with regard to graduate students and academic freedom, see the enclosed Statement on Graduate Students (note in particular numbered paragraph 1 under “Recommended Standards,” which states that graduate students “should be able to express their opinions freely about matters of institutional policy”).

We understand that together you have filed a grievance pursuant to the Agreement between The Regents of the University of California and the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAWE), AFL-CIO, Academic Students Employees Unit. We hope that the grievance will result in a timely and just resolution of your cases.


Jonathan Knight
Director, Program in Academic Freedom and Tenure