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CU-Boulder AAUP Chapter’s Statement About the University of Colorado’s Treatment of Patricia Adler

December 29, 2013

colorado-university-boulder-logoThe University of Colorado chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) joins our Colorado Conference and our national association in condemning the University of Colorado’s assault on the reputation and academic freedom of sociology professor Patricia Adler.

 University officials have publicly insinuated that Professor Adler has sexually harassed her students and endangered their safety. They have threatened her employment while repeatedly changing their reasons for doing so—absent any formal finding against Professor Adler, any semblance of due process, or any evidence of student safety having been compromised.

They have shown ignorance of the importance of academic freedom for university teachers in providing a rigorous education for university students. They have disregarded both the University of Colorado’s own regulations regarding academic freedom and those of the AAUP, which serve as the standard for the profession. While academic freedom cannot be absolute, the suspension of due process, on the grounds that some students may have felt pressured to volunteer for a classroom exercise, makes a mockery of the principles of academic freedom.

The CU chapter of the AAUP echoes the national AAUP in strongly urging the administration of the University of Colorado at Boulder to:

  • retract its requirement that Professor Adler’s “Deviance in U.S. Society” course design and pedagogy undergo any special review, since there have been no formal complaints about the course in the more than twenty years that Professor Adler has taught it, since the course has already been scrutinized during normal procedures for course approval, and since courses taught by other sociology professors are not required to undergo a similar special review;
  • cease and desist all investigations into Professor Adler’s pedagogy in the absence of any formal complaints or evidence that her course harms students;
  • make a clear statement affirming that Professor Adler will be allowed to teach the “Deviance in U. S. Society” course in the future in accordance with her best professional judgment and within the parameters of academic freedom as defined by the laws of the university and the AAUP;
  • retract Provost Russell Moore’s original, unfounded statement to the university community in which he strongly implied that Professor Adler had sexually harassed her students and issue a public apology to Professor Adler;
  • clarify its policies on discrimination and sexual harassment with a clear understanding of the limits to which students’ discomfort with a subject interferes with their safety and education.

Furthermore, the Boulder chapter of the AAUP encourages the University of Colorado to follow accepted and approved procedures for pursuing complaints against faculty.

Contact Suzanne Hudson:

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