The University Record, March 29, 1993

AAUP ‘greatly concerned’ about ramifications of policy

The executive committee of the U-M Chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) is “greatly concerned” about the effects of the University’s policy on discriminatory harassment and accompanying procedures, according to a memo from President R. T. Lenaghan to Senate Assembly members.

The March 15 memo states: “In particular, one faculty member recently charged with violation of the policy is convinced that the charge is a malicious one, and we find no mention in the policy or procedures of any restraint on malicious charges (which then become another form of harassment).”

In the memo, Lenaghan said the

U-M chapter sent a copy of the policy and procedures to the national AAUP. Lesley Francis of the national AAUP staff responded, in part:

“Only a few general comments. You will recall that there is a troublesome tension between the AAUP policy on sexual harassment and the policy on speech codes in terms of the degree of concern for free speech issues.

“The interim policy does cover sexual (or, at least, it so states), as well as a great many other forms of potential harassment. Because it is so sweeping in its guidance, the difficult free speech and hostile environment issues cannot be adequately addressed; in any event, they are difficult issues for all of us. How does one distinguish between conduct and speech? Are there situations where speech implies conduct? When does harassment begin and the free expression of ideas end? Are there differences between students, staff and faculty in processing a complaint of harassment?

“Whatever policy is adopted,” Francis said, “we would be particularly concerned that the due process protections to which faculty members are entitled (under the 1940 and 1958 Statements, and Regulation 5 of the Recommended Institutional Regulations) be made explicit, especially where a severe sanction, such as suspension or dismissal, is contemplated. The procedures you sent me do not seem to reference these protections when discussing findings of discriminatory harassment against a faculty member.”