Saturday, April 21, 2012

Jack Longmate, American Faculty Member Fighting for Freedom of Speech, Due Process Spring 2012

For all American faculty, and world faculty, here is some of the information from a faculty member, Jack Longmate, regarding his experiences with an American college and unions denying him and other faculty freedom of speech, academic freedom, and due process under the law.:

Hi all,

As some of you know from this list and from a few pieces in the Chronicle of
Higher Education and Inside Higher Education, I've been the target of
harassment by the tenured faculty within the union at Olympic College. I've
filed a complaint with the NEA last year (April 5, 2011), a harassment
complaint under my college's HR policy (December 21, 2011), and most
recently with the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (March
28, 2012).

I just returned from a meeting of the Olympic College board of trustees
where I delivered the following statement. My wife came, and she said that
my delivery was about as strong as she ever seen me speak. Of course, it
remains to be seen if the outcome will be positive. A good portion of my
remarks recounted what the faculty union president has done or said--he was
at the meeting.

Best wishes,

Jack Longmate

= = = = = = = = = =
On March 28, 2012, I filed a complaint with the Northwest Commission on
Colleges and Universities. I'd like to explain the background.

In late December of 2010, I published an editorial in The News Tribune
(Tacoma) that called for the suspension of course overloads (overtime
moonlighting) by full-time tenured faculty. The antagonistic reaction this
drew from some tenured faculty intensified in early February 2011 after I
testified against a bill favored by the faculty union at a House Higher
Education Committee hearing. On February 4, 2011, the day after my
testimony, a prominent member of the union's executive committee, who was
not at the hearing, wrote to me, but copied to all union members, saying: "I
respect your prerogative to take a separatist position on policy but NOT to
be dishonest by using your position with the union to seek a platform for
expressing those ideas." There were calls for my resignation and a vote of
no confidence.

I did not use my position as union secretary to seek a platform to express
my ideas. I made clear that I was speaking as an individual, not as a
representative of the union-as the video testimony and the legislative
report of that February 3 hearing makes clear.

Still, I was vilified by a number of accusatory e-mails like that one, which
typically were sent to me but copied to the whole of the union. This
vilification resulted in a censuring resolution passed at the faculty union
meeting of 25 February 2011-it was conducted by a show-of-hands vote, which
had more of a feeling of mob action than due process, and violated the
constitution of both the Washington Education Association and the National
Education Association. On 5 April 2011, I filed a 17-page formal complaint
with the National Education Association .

I believe the treatment that I've received is what Irwin Janis describes in
his book The Victims of Groupthink as a feature of that phenomena: "an
unquestioned belief in the group's inherent morality, inclining the members
to ignore the ethical or moral consequences of their decisions" (p. 198).

The resolution censuring me wasn't the end of the retaliatory treatment.
This past fall I initiated preparations for the annual Olympic College
Legislative Forum, as I have done for many years, by reserving a room and
securing the willingness of the president of the Associated Students of
Olympic College to serve as master of ceremonies, which has been the
tradition since 2003, and sending out an announcement to local legislators,
with a copy to Dr. Mitchell and the president of the faculty union. The day
after I sent out the announcement, the faculty union president asked me who
had sponsored the legislative forum in the past, as there was no mention of
the faculty union (OC AHE) on the announcement. I explained that the union
has and hoped that it would do so again. He wrote back to say "I can't
commit to sponsorship." In the meantime, some legislators responded to the
announcement, with some accepting, some declining, and one wishing to
discuss the format of the evening; he and I agreed to meet at his Gig Harbor
office. But the faculty union president, who was copied on these e-mails,
wrote directly to the legislator to say he felt such a meeting was
"premature" and brazenly assumed that the legislative forum was his program
to control-even though he had not shown any interest in sponsoring or
supporting the event.

Giving the faculty union president a very generous benefit of the doubt,
that since the Legislative Forum has been sponsored by the union in the
past, it would not be unreasonable for him to draw the conclusion that the
legislative forum was a union event and that his reflected a
miscommunication or mere misunderstanding about the event's cognizance, not
a willful design to frustrate my efforts and harass me.

But facts refute that assumption. When I approached the student body
president again, who had agreed to serve as the event's Master of
Ceremonies, to propose that the ASOC sponsor the legislative forum, since it
had co-sponsored it at least twice and, in 2003, provided refreshments to
the audience. The student body president then told me that the OC faculty
union vice president had approached him to discourage his involvement,
saying that the legislative forum was not taking place this year-again, even
though the faculty union had not agreed to either sponsor or involve itself.

Further confirming the intent of the faculty union to derail the legislative
forum, on October 27, 2011, the faculty union president sent out a message
to the legislators who received the original announcement, saying: "We feel
that in the past the forum was used to provide an opportunity for a small
minority of individuals to promote their personal issues rather than reflect
the concerns of the association and students." Since I have been the
organizer of the Legislative Forums from the outset, have always initiated
direct contact with the area legislators, and have always had a speaking
role, there is no ambiguity that it was I about whom the disparaging
"personal issues" comment was referring to, and that sentiment is was the
animosity underlying the censuring resolution that had been passed in
February, not a mere misunderstanding of cognizance.

What's more, at the faculty union meeting of the October 21, 2011, which I
was unable to attend, the union president declared to the members present
that I had "misrepresented" the union and had "acted in the union's name."
Those meeting minutes that were distributed on November 1, 2011, on the
Olympic College e-mail system to all faculty-full-time and part-time, union
members and non-union members. I consider these charges to be completely
baseless and libelous and I attempted, unsuccessfully, to get those unproven
assertions removed the minutes. With the publication of a November 22, 2011
article in the Chronicle of Higher Education about my situation, the Olympic
College faculty union president then did express an interest in talking, and
I'm willing to do that as soon as he formally and publicly and completely
withdraws all statements that characterize me as "misrepresenting" the union
and "acting in the union's name."

That has not happened, and on December 21, 2011, I filed a complaint under
Olympic College Human Resources Harassment/Discrimination Complaint
Procedure. On March 12, 2012, with the Olympic College harassment complaint
still pending, I met with the executive of the State Board for Community and
Technical Colleges, Charlie Earl and head of Human Resources, John
Boesenberg and mentioned my complaint, saying that I felt if it were
investigated by an independent, outside reviewer, it would be found
successful, but since it was being conducted in-house, I had misgivings
about its outcome. Two days later, on March 14, Olympic College finally
released its report, and my misgivings were confirmed. The finding did
declare that the very limited scope of its investigation, and urged that the
complaints against the union be taken up with the union. Of course, it made
that recommendation knowing full well that I had submitted a 17-page formal
complaint to the union.

In summary, I have given the union, both the NEA and the WEA, a chance to
act, and I have given Olympic College the chance to act, yet I've still been
denied due process by both and am subject to the inherent conflicts of
interests: Just as a business cannot credibly audit itself, a college
cannot investigate itself.

Holding union office should not excuse a faculty members at Olympic College
from having to act in a professional, respectful manner nor should it give
license to abuse whatever authority they have.

I have the right to speak freely to the state legislature and these union
officers took it upon themselves to use college resources, including e-mail,
meeting rooms, to denigrate my reputation and attack my integrity.

It is obvious that these tenured faculty were trying to chill my advocacy on
behalf of adjunct instructors both here at Olympic College and in the state,
again, using Olympic College resources to do it.

Olympic College trustees' jurisdiction does not extend into the union
meeting, but to the extent that the body is using OC resources, it has a
responsibility to see to it that they're being used appropriately.

The treatment that I've received is quite counter to the noble wording of
the Olympic College Values Statement and the 2009 Self-Study Report, which
from page 6-4 proclaims:

"Olympic College has established an educational environment for students,
staff, and faculty in which the dignity of all individuals is respected. In
support of the Affirmative Action Policy, the College does not tolerate
harassment or discrimination of any person. Such conduct is deemed
unacceptable and may be grounds for disciplinary action and/or separation of
the relationship of that person with the College."

Alas, such unacceptable conduct has happened at Olympic College. 

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