Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Welcome to the Forum - A SAFE PLACE to express your opinion
WHO WE ARE. We are UA students, staff, faculty and administrators who are concerned about abuses of power at the UA. This is not a political blog. It is an academic forum for presenting facts and expressing legitimate opinions – facts and opinions that the UA administration finds objectionable and has therefore stifled and suppressed.
Many facts and opinions about reorganizing the UA have not been reported in the media – or have been misrepresented when they were reported.
Some of these facts and legitimate opinions have been so seriously distasteful to the University’s executive administrators – President Shelton and Provost Hay – that they have fired the people who expressed them. Deans, department heads, and even senior adminitrators who are among the most respected people on this campus have been fired, for disagreeing. We need a place to talk about that.
A place where we can speak openly, without fear of reprisals, and therefore anonymously for those who prefer not to sign their postings.
CONFIDENTIALITY AND SECURITY. You can post comments to this forum in complete confidentiality. All postings to this site are protected by three levels of security:
1) This is NOT A UA Website. Our site is hosted by Google, and uses the anonymous "Blogger" interface created by Google in the public interest. "Since Blogger was launched in 1999," according to Google, "blogs have reshaped the web, impacted politics, shaken up journalism, and enabled millions of people to have a voice and connect with others."
2) Anonymous Postings. Anyone wishing to remain anonymous may sign with a pseudonym. Or simply sign as "A reader." But impersonations are NOT permitted; any comment signed with someone else's name will be discarded. This is a serious site, and we follow the rules (see below).
3) Non-traceable postings. Since you will be posting to one of Google's "Blogger" websites, NO ONE, including the forum team facilitating this site, will know your e-mail address. So you can send your comments from anywhere.
If you worry about the possibility of UA e-mail accounts being administratively monitored and would feel more comfortable posting your comments to the forum without using UA e-mail, go ahead and log in to this forum - UA Defender - using Gmail or Yahoo or AOL. And rest assured that NOBODY from the UA can monitor off-campus e-mail.
RULES . The following principles will govern postings to this site: respect, accuracy, civility. First Amendment protections carry with them responsibilities, chief among which, as regards internet anonymity, are the obligations
• to say nothing libelous, expressly defamatory, or gratuitously insulting; comments that are "below-the-belt" or "over-the-top" will not be posted;
• to stick to the point (excessively long postings may be shortened by the forum team);
• to stick to the facts (and document them if contestable); and
• to make clear the difference between facts and opinions.
Example: It is a fact that on May 20, 2009 President Shelton sent an e-mail to Dr. Juan Garcia summarily dismissing him from his position as Vice President for Instruction. It is the opinion of many of us on campus that this dismissal was hasty, recriminatory, demeaning and unjust. But, get this: How many University employees can you imagine would feel comfortable, would feel protected in their rights – on this campus in the present conditions—stating such an opinion in a signed letter to the Wildcat?
THE RIGHT TO DISAGREE. And yet, the right to disagree with your superiors without fear of reprisals is a fundamental right guaranteed to everyone in the University of Arizona community:
7.01.01 Statement on Professional Conduct. The following "Statement on Professional Conduct" was adopted by the Faculty Senate on January 4, 1971. Although the statement refers most often to faculty members, its principles also apply to administrative and professional personnel.
Membership in the academic community imposes on students, faculty members, administrators, and regents an obligation to respect the dignity of others, to acknowledge their right to express differing opinions, and to foster and defend intellectual honesty, freedom of inquiry and instruction, and free expression on and off the campus. [University Handbook for Appointed Personnel, University of Arizona, 2000.]
PROTECTION AGAINST REPRISALS. Still, in spite of “sunshine laws” and First Amendment protections and the UHAP Manual that applies EVEN to “administrators and regents,” some among us still have reason to fear further reprisals and dismissals, disguised under the cover of “program reorganization” and the like. That’s why we need a safe place to talk about serious issues. And be heard. By the media, the Regents, the Legislature...
MORATORIUM ON CLOSURES & DISMISSALS. We therefore appeal to the Arizona Board of Regents and to the Arizona Legislature, for a moratorium on administrative program closures and negative personnel actions at the UA (dismissals, demotions, reassignments, etc.) until such time as the complaints currently filed, and the investigations currently underway with regard to recent firings (2008-2009), have been resolved, either at higher administrative levels (e.g., ABOR), or in the courts, as the case may be.
OUR FOUR MAIN AREAS OF CONCERN. Until such time as the moratorium protection has been put in place and announced in the media, this forum will publish postings --anonymous or signed-- on the following 4 topics which have emerged as the areas of greatest concern:
1. FIRINGS. Dismissals, demotions, reassignments without just cause. How they occurred and why they were felt to have been unjust.
2. PROGRAM CLOSURES AND DEFUNDINGS without due regard for legitimate input from faculty, staff, and students (and others affected, where applicable). How and why they were felt to have been unjust.
3. ADMINISTRATIVE INFRINGEMENT AND USURPATIONS in matters of academic policy and planning. These include abolitions or “hostile takeovers” of faculty committees that have expressed reservations or disagreement with administrative initiatives, or where input from faculty, staff, and students was felt to have been unduly curtailed or disregarded.
4. MOTIONS OF CENSURE and VOTES OF NO CONFIDENCE. A rubric for those who wish to express support for motions of censure or votes of no-confidence against the President and/or the Provost, and for those who disagree and wish to argue for alternative forms of redress and relief.
ARIZONA’S FIRST UNIVERSITY. Arizona’s First University is our University. All of us. Students, staff, faculty, community, the citizens of the State of Arizona. It does not “belong” to the executive administration. Many of us feel that they have forgotten that they work for us, not the opposite.
[original posting date August 21,2009; successive re-postings reflect updates.]