Tag: free speech

PROFS Statement on AJR 32, Declaring April to be Freedom of Expression Month

Tomorrow, the Wisconsin State Assembly is scheduled to vote on Assembly Joint Resolution 32, legislation that would declare April to be Freedom of Expression Month across Wisconsin. The resolution was introduced last week by State Representative Dave Murphy (R-Greenville) and State Senator André Jacque (R-De Pere). Murphy chairs the Assembly Committee on Colleges and Universities.

While PROFS is committed to the principles of free expression, it finds this resolution to be an attack on the state’s colleges and universities:

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October Board of Regents Meeting

The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents will meet at UW-Superior Thursday and Friday, October 10 and 11. Livestream coverage of the full board portions of the meeting is available here.

Regents meet in committee Thursday morning after a tour of the Lake Superior Research Institute ballast water treatment system testing facility.

  • The Business and Finance Committee will hear a report from UW-Superior, discuss several reports relating to investments and financials, and consider eight contractual agreements at UW-Madison.
  • The Education Committee will consider three new degree programs, including a bachelor of arts and bachelor of science in data science at UW-Madison. The committee will also discuss changes to four Regent Policy Documents, including one relating to laboratory animals.
  • The Audit Committee will discuss the internal audit, compliance, and risk management.
  • The Capital Planning and Budget Committee will hear a report from UW-Superior and consider granting authority to several campuses for construction projects, including the Camp Randall renovation and Field House repair project.

The full board will meet Thursday afternoon and Friday morning. UW System President Ray Cross and UW-Superior Chancellor Renée Wachter will address the board Thursday afternoon before moving into closed session to discuss honorary degrees, two salary adjustments at UW-Madison, chancellor evaluations, and legal issues.

On Friday, the board will hear updates from Cross and UW System Board of Regents President Drew Petersen. The regents will also vote to approve an amendment to student disciplinary rules. The amendment would outline punishment for students who disrupt free speech on campus. Regents adopted a policy in 2017 but it does not take effect until UW System administrative rules are amended.

Administrative rules must be approved by Governor Evers before they are sent to the legislature. A spokeswoman for Evers recently said the governor voted against this policy when he was a member of the Board of Regents and he continues to oppose the policy.

Last month, two bills (Assembly Bill 444 and Senate Bill 403) relating to campus speech were introduced. This legislation directs the Board of Regents to create a campus speech policy that would supersede and nullify any prior Board of Regents or institution policies or rules restricting free expression. PROFS is registered against these bills. If either bill passes the legislature, it must still be signed into law by the governor before becoming law.

Regent Public Hearing Update

Nine members of the university community testified at a University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents public hearing Tuesday on a proposal that would outline punishment for students that disrupt speaking events on UW System campuses.

Three members of the PROFS Steering Committee offered their testimony on the proposal to the UW System staff members present: Law professor Steph Tai, Pathobiological Sciences professor Eric Sandgren and English professor Tim Yu. Yu’s statement is below. Sandgren spoke on behalf of AAUP and his statement is on their website.

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Board of Regents Public Hearing on Speech Rules

The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents will hold a public hearing at 3 pm this afternoon on rules related to a policy that calls for suspending and expelling students who disrupt campus speaking events.

Members of the university community and general public are welcome to offer testimony from 3 to 5 pm today at UW-Madison’s Gordon Dining and Event Center, 770 West Dayton Street or online until August 20.

In October 2017, Regents adopted a policy that mandates suspension when a student disrupts others’ free speech twice and expulsion after the third offense. Regents voted last month to hold today’s hearing on the scope statement for permanent rules (below).

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October Board of Regents Meeting

The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents will meet Thursday and Friday, October 5 and 6 at UW-Stout. The full-board portions of the meeting Thursday afternoon and Friday morning will be livestreamed.

The Regents meet in committee Thursday morning:

  • The Education Committee will consider two new degree programs and hear a report from the Vice President for Academic Affairs. Topics include outcomes-based funding, enrollment, low-enrollment degree programs and student transfer policy.
  • The Business and Finance Committee will consider several contractual agreements, review and approve changes to the policy on the use of university information technology resources and hear reports on several topics, including program revenue balances and segregated fees.
  • The Capital Planning and Budget Committee will hear an update on the State Building Commission, discuss strategy for the 2019-21 capital budget and consider approval of several items relating to UW System campus properties. The committee will also meet in closed session to discuss the naming of a UW-Madison facility.
  • The Research, Economic Development, and Innovation Committee will hear updates on economic development efforts at UW-Stout, UW-Extension and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.
  • The Audit Committee will discuss many reports, including the Fiscal Year 2018 Audit Plan Progress report and tuition policy reports from seven UW institutions.

Thursday afternoon, the full board will discuss the report and consider recommendations (below) from the Administrative Hiring Workgroup. This group, chaired by Regent Drew Petersen, began meeting in August to consider changes in the hiring requirements for the UW System President and UW Chancellors, Provosts and Vice Chancellors.

The group did not include representation from UW-Madison, but accepted input from an ad hoc committee of three UW-Madison faculty members appointed by the University Committee. Their response to the Regent workgroup is here.

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Friday morning, the full board will hear reports from the UW System President Cross and Regent President John Behling. They will also consider a proposed policy on freedom of expression. The board previously adopted statements on freedom of expression in December, 2015 and July, 2017.

The proposed policy codifies the previous statements and outlines the punishment for students who disrupt the expressive rights of others:

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Board of Regents Statement on Freedom of Expression

Last week, the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents reaffirmed their commitment to freedom of expression with the resolution below. The board adopted a lengthier resolution in December 2015, also below.

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Campus Speech Bill Passes Assembly

Assembly Bill 299, dubbed the Campus Free Speech Act, passed the Assembly Wednesday, June 21 on a 61-36 vote. Republican Bob Gannon of West Bend joined the Democrats in opposing the bill. A statement of PROFS’ opposition to the bill is here.

Representative Jesse Kremer (R-Kewaskum), the bill’s main author, maintains the legislation is necessary to ensure all voices are heard on campus, citing incidents at Middlebury College and the University of California-Berkeley as evidence that free speech is stifled on college campuses.

PROFS lobbied against the bill, noting that in 2010 the University of Wisconsin Faculty Senate adopted a policy (Faculty Document 2186) that protects speech on campus. In 2015, the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents adopted a resolution affirming academic freedom, including free speech, on all UW campuses.

Under the amended bill (below), the Board of Regents would be required to adopt a policy that would apply to all UW System institutions and supersede any existing Regent or campus policies. The legislation also requires mandatory punishments for students violators and employee and new student training on free speech annually.

The bill now moves to the State Senate.

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PROFS Statement on AB 299, Relating to Campus Speech

PROFS is registered against Assembly Bill 299, legislation that would require the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents to adopt a policy on free expression on all two and four-year campuses. This new policy would supersede any previous Regent rules or individual campus policies.

The Assembly Colleges and Universities Committee is scheduled to vote on an amended version of AB 299 at 1:30 pm, Tuesday, May 30.

In 2010, the UW-Madison Faculty Senate amended its Faculty Policies and Procedures to  provide “principled protection for faculty engaged in speech pursuant to their official duties.” The amendment (below) also provided a definition of academic freedom.

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Legislative Update

The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee statewide public hearings on the 2017-19 budget proposal last month and began voting on individual items last week. PROFS is meeting with university and legislative leaders to discuss several items in the budget proposal:

State funding tied to performance measures The Board of Regents would rank all UW institutions and distribute funds based on:

  • Affordability/Attainability, 30%
  • Student Success in State Workforce, 30%
  • Work Readiness, 15%
  • Efficiency, 10%
  • Additional Criteria, 15%

UW Pay plan A pay plan tied to presumed savings from a switch to self-insurance (see below) for all state employees would be offered in 2018 and 2019.

Policy Items in the budget The co-chairs of the Joint Finance Committee said last month all policy items in the budget would be removed, but could be considered after being vetted in committee or as part of the committee’s omnibus motion. Several policy items dealt with the university:

  • Require the Board of Regents to create policies for the monitoring and reporting of teaching workload and a mechanism to reward those who teach more than an undefined “standard academic workload.”
  • Add language to state statutes that would give the university new power to regulate expression and criticism of that expression.
  • Allow students to opt out of allocable segregated fees.
  • Require institutions to develop 3-year degree programs.
  • Require students to have internship/work experience before graduating.
  • Require 60 credits transferable between UW and WTCS.

Self-Insurance

The Group Insurance Board recommended a switch to self-insurance beginning in 2018, but the Joint Finance Committee must review the proposed changes before they go into effect. The committee received the formal recommendation to switch to self-insurance today and has 21 days to decide whether or not to reject the plan. The committee co-chairs and other members have publicly expressed concern over the plan in the past.

Video from the PROFS/ASPRO forum on self-insurance is here.

Campus Free Speech Legislation

Several legislators, including the chairs of the Legislature’s higher education committees, announced their plans to introduce legislation that would direct the Board of Regents to draft a free speech policy that encourages all points of view. Regents would also be required to create rules that discipline students who interfere with campus free speech. PROFS is concerned about the reach of these proposals and has begun working with UW free speech experts on a response to these proposals.

AB 299 (below), sponsored by Representative Jesse Kremer (R-Kewaskum) was introduced last week, and Senator Leah Vukmir (R-Brookfield) intends to introduce legislation (below) later this month.

 

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