What is your campus’s approach to collegiality?

This is a guest post by Timothy Shiell, a professor of philosophy at the University of Wisconsin–Stout and a member of the American Philosophical Association’s Committee for the Defense of the Professional Rights of Philosophers. He is a scholar of and advocate for academic freedom and the author of Campus Hate Speech on Trial.

UW Stout logoAnother battle over collegiality is brewing: faculty in the four-campus Connecticut State University system involved in union contract negotiations are questioning, amongst other things, proposed collegiality rules. As I document in my online article in the current issue of Academe, Grappling with Collegiality and Academic Freedom,” UW-Stout faculty were fortunate to be “on the same page” as administration when developing our AAUP-based collegiality policy. Collegiality rules loom more sinister when it appears an administration is strong-arming or forcing the rules on faculty, especially when those rules are part of a larger package of proposals hostile to faculty. Is the situation at your campus more like the Connecticut State divide or more like the UW-Stout joint effort?

UW-Stout faculty also are fortunate our campus is focusing on ways to promote collegiality rather than on ways to punish non-collegiality. For example, we are undertaking initiatives to improve supervisor training, our employee assistance program, and informal dispute resolution. What is your campus doing about collegiality that appears to be working or not working?

Still, there is a new discussion emerging about a gap in our policies. Our current hostile environment harassment policy, like many others in academia, only applies to members of protected categories. Some are arguing we need a workplace policy that prohibits harassment of all employees, whether a member of a protected category or not. It is believed the lack of such a policy leaves some harassed employees without an effective means to find relief. If such a policy is restricted to legal definitions of hostile work environment, then it should not raise concerns about a slippery slope to punishing alleged non-collegial behavior. Does your campus have such a policy? What impacts has it had? Should campuses have such a policy?

Articles from the current and past issues of Academe are available online. AAUP members receive a subscription to the magazine, available both by mail and as a downloadable PDF, as a benefit of membership.


2 thoughts on “What is your campus’s approach to collegiality?

  1. Let me correct a common slip Prof. Shiell accidentally repeats here: it is not true that a harassment policy “only applies to members of protected categories.” It applies to everyone, but only for discriminatory treatment based on protected categories. So, anyone can claim discrimination based on gender, race, etc., but it is has to be actual discrimination. Widening harassment to include anything deemed “hostile” is very dangerous to academic freedom. First, there is no legal tradition guiding “general” harassment policies; second, such broad policies are very vulnerable to abuse. The AAUP decades ago expressed alarm at the abuse of harassment policies that follow legal rules; one can only imagine how much worse general harassment policies would be. Has any campus enact one, and what has been the impact?

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