On Tuesday, State Senator Jerry Cirino (R-Kirtland) introduced Senate Bill 83, dubbed “The Higher Education Enhancement Act,” which is co-sponsored by seven other Senate Republicans.
The bill attempts to micromanage public–and to an extent, private–colleges and universities on a variety of issues, most of which are rooted in the culture wars.
The following pieces are of particular concern to faculty:
-Prohibiting faculty (and other employees of public institutions of higher education) from striking.
-Creating new annual performance evaluations of all faculty with one of three results: “exceeds performance expectations,” “meets performance expectations,” or “does not meet performance expectations.”
-Requiring boards of trustees to adopt post-tenure review processes, which are to be used if a tenured faculty member receives a “does not meet performance expectations” result on their annual review.
-Creating new standardized evaluations of faculty by students, the aggregate average numerical results of which are to be published on institutional websites.
-Requiring written peer evaluations of faculty with emphasis on professional development related to teaching responsibilities.
-Requiring institutions to update faculty workload policies by July 1, 2024 and then every three years after, and mandating what elements the workload policies must contain.
-Mandating certain components of course syllabi (including biographical information about the instructor) and requiring that syllabi are made public on institutional websites.
The legislation also contains troubling mandates effectively banning any activity on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and creates parameters around addressing “controversial matters” and “specified concepts” in an attempt to promote what is referred to as “intellectual diversity.”
If you would like to read more details about the bill, you can view a more complete synopsis here.
So what is OCAAUP doing about this legislation?
First, we created the abovementioned synopsis to help boil down the pieces of the bill in order to make it more digestible for our members. Second, we have been collaborating with various allies, including other faculty organizations and unions, to coordinate talking points and strategy on dealing with the bill. Third, we are working with AAUP leaders from around the state to develop responses at the local and state levels. Fourth, we have placed a request with Sen. Cirino’s office that the AAUP be included in any interested party meetings that may occur. Fifth, we have been conducting interviews with newspapers around the state to respond to the various components of the bill. Sixth, we already are preparing opponent testimony, which we expect to be able to deliver to the Senate Workforce and Higher Education Committee later this spring.
Watch your email for more information in the near future, specifically, more ways for individual AAUP members to take action and help us pushback on this bill.