Guidance to Aggrieved Faculty
The American Association of University Professors works to safeguard academic freedom and professional standards. Prominent historic threats to these freedoms and standards at the U-M have been memorialized through the Academic Freedom Lecture series and through various public programs. Everyday challenges nonetheless continue, and the University of Michigan Chapter of AAUP is regularly approached by aggrieved faculty who claim infringements of their rights owing to disparate treatment, intimidation, retaliation, deception, misappropriation of intellectual or research property, and other alleged abuses. Lives and careers continue to suffer, and the suffering is an affront to our profession.
Aggrieved faculty who contemplate enlisting AAUP guidance regarding alleged abuses and potential misconduct by U-M officials are encouraged to adopt the following protocol if they seek AAUP intervention in their cases. Prudent action at the earliest stages may not entirely prevent further abuse, but it is the best defense against otherwise intolerable situations. Consultation, advice, and intervention are kept confidential to the degree that is requested by the grievant.
1. Always try to apply the same high standards of quality of presentation to your complaints as you apply to your own scholarship.
2. Prepare and continually update a detailed chronology of events relevant to your case in deep detail, with cross-reference to documents or recordings.
3. Identify the specific violations of legal or ethical standards perpetrated by the respondents, with reference to documentation. The local AAUP Chapter can help with this task.
4. Identify the codes of conduct or standards that are used as frames of reference for complaint. Again, the local AAUP Chapter can help with this task.
5. Make a recommendation for resolution of the situation.
Aggrieved faculty should be informed that the Michigan Whistleblowers’ Protection Act may not protect them when they report misconduct or illegal activity to internal university bodies. Experience of AAUP has been that internal reporting alone can trigger reprisal, even if the reporting is done in accord with guidelines proposed by federal research agencies. Faculty should refer to the statute provisions of the Michigan Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and statutes governing private recordings, and should study existing codes of professional ethics, particularly those promulgated by the AAUP.
The AAUP can be contacted by telephone according to current listings in the University Directory. Additional information is posted on the web page of the local chapter: http://www.umich.edu/~aaupum/
This communication was approved by Action of the University of Michigan Chapter AAUP, September 14, 1999.