Creation of the UM AAUP-University Employee Alliance (2019)
Our history starts at the beginning of 2017 with the creation of the University Employee Alliance, a group of faculty, graduate students, and staff interested in advocacy and engagement around a host of pressing social and political issues on our campuses, in our local community, and in our wider world (see “Origin” selection below). With an understanding that our overall vision of shared governance was supported at a national level, we joined the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) as an advocacy chapter in 2019, becoming the University of Miami AAUP-University Employee Alliance. In 2020, we registered as a non-profit 501(c)(4) and currently have 100+ members from all three campuses and most academic units.
Developing an advocacy chapter of the AAUP at University of Miami continues our historical connection to that national organization as it upholds the tenets of academic freedom and shared governance since 1915. UM’s first president, Bowman Foster Ashe, was a proponent of the AAUP during his tenure, and the university's Faculty Senate has worked since 1965 to ensure that the highest educational and research standards can be met under the most optimal conditions for the stakeholders charged with this work. We are happy to join our peer institutions that also have also established formal connections with the AAUP, including New York University, Emory University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Villanova University, Ohio State University, and Pepperdine University.
You can learn more about our mission and values at Values & Call.
Origin of the University Employee Alliance (2017-2019)
In the aftermath of the November 2016 election, a number of faculty at the University of Miami expressed concerns that the president-elect's policy agenda would disastrously affect educators in South Florida. The first issues we discussed were the threatened status of DACA students, the rise in hate crimes on campuses across the nation, the need for increased action on climate change rather than a denial of the scientific consensus, and the erosion of an informed citizenry in a media landscape compromised by “fake news.” We also wrote an open letter to The Miami Hurricane, which was signed by 502 faculty. In January 2017, we founded the University Employee Alliance, inviting staff and graduate students as well as faculty to join.
We continue to ask ourselves: as an association of professionals in higher education, what can we do together that we could not do alone? What skills and resources do we bring to the table as educators? This right-wing electoral victory has been a wake-up call and has brought an extraordinary new degree of participation across the country. While voting out this extreme and volatile administration is a first priority, the need for political engagement well preceded 2016 and will outlast this particular administration.
People have already been working hard, and there are so many initiatives already happening on campus and in our city that need our support, from student activism for a Black Student Center and a Gender Equity Center to SAVE’s Fast Response group and the work of the New Florida Majority. The need for better communication across campus about local progressive projects and events has emerged as a priority for our group, and as our meetings progressed, we also realized that the group itself satisfied a need for progressive community.
We are also aware, as Michelle Alexander, Naomi Klein, and Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor emphasized in a public talk, that there is a need to generate visions of a better world, rather than simply reacting, “resisting,” and working towards a restoration of the status quo that produced this toxic political climate in the first place. We envision a society that thrives on active political participation in efforts for an equitable and just world.