Letter from Louisiana: Advocacy Organizing in Red America

BY LINDA CARROLL

For red state advocacy members, it is heartening that the national leadership and staff of the AAUP are planning a renewed emphasis on organizing in advocacy situations, as announced at this year’s June meeting.

Advocacy organizing in red states has a number of distinctive features, as I learned from decades of work in a state located in a large and contiguous region that itself has become increasingly red (a condition common to many red states).

In red states, institutions are often widely scattered over a large territory, which isolates them from one another. And at red state institutions, the proportion of faculty members willing to publicly identify with the AAUP is often small. While becoming an AAUP activist gains the respect of many colleagues, it often also puts a target on one’s back that will be aimed at not only by the administration but by faculty members who have decided to cooperate with or pacify the administration and/or the state legislature. At large institutions, the AAUP chapter is visible to disapproving members of the legislature—frequently the majority—which can intimidate faculty who have not committed to becoming activists themselves. At smaller institutions, public and especially private, it can be difficult to arrive at the minimum number of seven to form a chapter.

In the spirit of assisting the new national campaign to achieve the highest level of success, I offer a few suggestions for our leaders and staff.

Local Leadership in Decision-Making
Advocacy people want to choose their goals on the basis of their institution’s situation (e.g., revisions to the faculty handbook that improve provisions for faculty governance and professional functioning, tenure, and academic freedom). They also want to choose the best means by which to pursue them because they know the limits of tolerance of their colleagues and their administrations. Once that has been done, support by the national AAUP in the form of advice, research, finances, speakers, and other resources is most helpful.

Terminology
Because of the extreme hostility to labor unions in many red states, a hostility that legislatures may be more than willing to turn into the withholding of funds or attacks on the faculty, an emphasis on the AAUP as a professional association rather than as a labor union is the more functional approach in attracting members.

Conferences and Regional Groupings
In red states, state conferences are of particular importance. The conference can counteract the isolation otherwise felt by chapters, by providing shared experience, support, and clout. Conferences also provide a home for AAUP members who do not have an institutional chapter or who have chosen to remain anonymous even to their campus AAUP leadership, a common red state situation. Also very helpful are the kind of inter-conference regional groupings that AAUP activists have already been forming and that provide additional opportunities to gather with like-minded colleagues to find solutions to common problems.

Election Methods and Regional Delegates to National Council
The move at the 2019 national meeting to elect national leadership through delegates to the national meeting, as well as the change in voting procedure from nomination and election of regional delegates by regional members to their nomination and election by the entire delegate body, set several obstacles in the path of attracting and retaining advocacy members. The first is that electing by secret ballot and sending a delegate to national meetings will require chapters and “sections” to divert funds from membership-building activities; in many cases the cost involved in conducting an election meeting Department of Labor standards and the air fare, hotel bill, and conference registration for the delegate will be a significant portion of their budget. The second is that red-state advocacy members operate in an environment of self-motivation and self-determination and their regional representative on Council is their only voice at the national level. The third is that legal advice will likely be required for the chapters and sections to determine what procedures are legally available to them to elect their delegate. There are sure to be questions, and the generic answer “it’s complicated” won’t help. How great these obstacles will be is an open question. Many red state leaders hope that the national organization will quickly remove them by restoring individual-member voting and the nomination and election of regional delegates to national Council by regional members.

Pathway to the Future.
Change always brings challenges, many of which only become visible as one walks down that pathway. But there is no reason for pessimism and, ironically, the current hostility to faculty and to substantive education provides many reasons for optimism as it has awakened many faculty colleagues to the imperative to form a united front. Faculty members, particularly AAUP members, are used to analyzing challenges, considering alternatives, and then working together to overcome them. We can, and will, do that again. But the point is that this process does not occur on its own. Like so many other activities, the solution is to organize—at the chapter, conference, regional, and national levels. Benjamin Franklin’s advice about hanging together so as not to hang separately was never more appropriate.

Guest blogger Linda Carroll is an at-large member of the AAUP national Council, a former president of the Tulane University AAUP chapter, and a former secretary of the Louisiana state AAUP conference.

President’s Newsletter June 18, 2019

AAUP Louisiana Conference
President’s Newsletter
June 18, 2019

Dear Colleagues,

June 13-16 Brooks Ellwood (LSU-BR), Linda Carroll (Tulane), Steve Rushing (SELU) and I attended the AAUP national meeting in Virginia – Brooks, Linda and I in our roles on the National Council and Executive Committee, and Steve joining us as a State Conference delegate. Linda was also credentialed as a delegate from her local chapter, something we should be sure to get done for Brooks next year and ideally, for me as well. We would like to encourage other chapters to send delegates next year, and to help fund their travel.

Structural changes to the national organization approved at this year’s meeting have implications for us. (1) Voting at the national level must be done in person at the national meeting, by elected representatives of a chapter or “section.” We could send only one person (as a “section”), or even form a “section” larger than Louisiana so as to share the cost of the delegate’s trip with another state conference. However, there are benefits to having more than one person attend since (2) the more representatives there are, the more accurately our views are represented and since (3) candidates for national office and representatives from our region will be elected by those present. If we send more people to the national meeting, more can participate in leadership at that level, and bring the knowledge gained home. (4) The role of the Assembly of State Conferences in national governance has been eliminated. State conference leaders across our region and nationwide, however, have plans to network and to hold periodic in-person meetings, open to everyone.

We’ll talk more broadly about changes to the national governmental structure of the organization, and ways to strengthen our work in the new context at our Fall meeting September 28, where Christof Stumpf (LSU-Alexandria) and Hugh Wilson (Grambling) will also report on the AAUP Summer Institute they are attending next month in Chicago. To strengthen us locally and to contribute to strength nationwide we should (1) create chapters at as many institutions as possible since chapter delegates can deliver votes at the national meeting; (2) join the conferences, like Texas, Connecticut and Illinois, that are visiting state legislators on Capitol Hill the day before the national meeting starts; (3) encourage younger faculty and faculty of color to participate in national leadership. At the Fall meeting we will also talk about our resolution on state funding, about possible visits to our legislators in Baton Rouge and locally, and about the possibility of applying for a conference development grant to support our activities.

Chapters should know there are chapter development grants available from the national AAUP, and that the conference has some funds to help support organizing activities.

Finally, NOW is the time to contact your administrations about getting a spot in new faculty and new graduate student orientation at your institutions this August. I and also the national AAUP have a variety flyers and recruiting materials, that can be put in orientation folders even if you do not get a spot or cannot hold a recruiting event (ideal is to have a spot at orientation where you invite people to an independent, congenial recruiting event, but getting materials into the recruiting folders is a good first step). There is strength in numbers, and the more members we have, the better off we are.

Happy Juneteenth, Solstice, and summer in general!

LESLIE

Leslie Bary
2018-2020 President
Louisiana Conference AAUP

May 2019 Newsletter

Louisiana Conference AAUP

Newsletter May 2, 2019

Dear Colleagues,
The Conference met Saturday, April 27, at LSU-Alexandria. Present from the Executive Committee were Leslie Bary, President; Hugh Wilson, Vice-President, Kevin Cope, Treasurer (per Constitution, appointed to replace Michael Homan, who has resigned, for the 2018-2020 term), and Ravi Rau, Past President; and conference members/representatives from SELU, LSU-Baton Rouge, LSU-Alexandria, Grambling, LSU-Shreveport. Linda Carroll (Tulane) participated by e-mail.

Business was as follows:

1. Report from Leslie Bary on ASC meeting in March, and from Leslie Bary and Brooks Ellwood (LSU) on National Council meeting, also in March. The proposed changes to the governance structure of AAUP at the national level will be voted upon at the June meeting in Alexandria, Virginia. Louisiana leadership and ASC leadership urge everyone to come to the meeting and vote, and to credential as many people as possible to do so.

2. Leslie Bary (National Council Representative for District V) and Linda Carroll (National Council At-Large) were credentialed as Conference delegates to vote at the national meeting. Individual chapters can also credential delegates. I can be credentialed for my chapter, or someone else can; Linda’s chapter, having over 25 members, can credential Linda and someone else, or two people who are not Linda. Chapter Presidents, please consider credentialing someone, and consider working with the state conference to cover as many of their costs as we can. (I think Doodle or Survey Monkey would work, and yes we can do an electronic election.) Tulane is nominating Linda and I am self-nominating for UL Lafayette, but hoping there is another nominee.

3. The conference will provide partial funding (registration and hotel to a total of $900) for a limited number of members wishing to attend the national meeting (three is the number we had thought of, but we might consider a fourth), if they are credentialed to vote at the AAUP annual meeting by their chapter or at the Assembly of State Conferences business meeting by the conference.

4. We did not choose delegates to represent us and vote at the ASC business meeting, and we should do so. We can choose four and as noted above, we have partial funding to help defray costs. The delegate form is here and as you will see, delegates must be elected by secret ballot. Linda and I can be credentialed but it would be ideal to fill all four positions. I am asking Vice-President and Secretary of the Executive Committee, along with the chairs of Organizing and Outreach and Chapter Services, to run this election for the Conference. I am nominating myself and Linda, and asking for other nominations and self-nominations.

5. We are able to nominate two people for scholarships to attend the Summer Institute in Chicago. This year’s nominees are Hugh Wilson (Grambling) and a representative from the new chapter at LSU-Alexandria, most likely Christof Stumpf (he will confirm after checking his teaching schedule). Scholarships cover registration, including lodging and some food. The state conference will provide transportation for those who receive scholarships, and work with chapters on registration in the event a scholarship nominee is not funded.

6. Kevin Cope presented a draft of our resolution on state funding of higher education, which we voted to accept with minor changes; when these are made the text will be distributed. A more detailed discussion of the resolution, its purpose and envisioned use will be provided then. It is conceived of as an organizing tool and Monica Owens, political organizer for AAUP, will help with strategies for its promotion.

7. Our next meeting is at LSU-Alexandria on Saturday, September 28. There will be reports on the national meeting and restructuring of AAUP at the national level, and on the Summer Institute; planning of activism in relation to our resolution and of a membership drive; and reports from our Committees A as well as work toward designating liaisons to the state Committee A at individual campuses, especially those with smaller chapters or without chapters. Another goal for AY 2019-2020 is registration with the Secretary of State and reconfirmation of 501(c)(3) status for the Conference and also individual chapters. There are a number of difficulties due to changes in Federal law this century, that make banking noticeably more difficult than it has been, and we should be aware.

In solidarity,
Leslie Bary
2018-2020 President
Louisiana Conference AAUP

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