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Chapter Meeting: February 2024

Our AAUP chapter convened in person and on Zoom on February 9, 2024 for our first meeting of the calendar year. Despite finding ourselves in the throes of the semester, turnout was robust, with several  members also tuning in virtually. We welcomed new members with a round of introductions. 

Executive committee lead Ken Field then took on the first item of business: reviewing the recent NLRB ruling resulting from the VAP organizing effort last year. Ken encouraged new members to continue to reach out to colleagues and coworkers, while emphasizing positive and inspiring themes. He went on to explain that, beyond celebrating the victory, another important takeaway from the NLRB decision is that faculty and staff should remember that we always have the right to organize, as well as the right to collectively petition the administration with concerns about pay or other equity issues. Ken emphasized that this ruling makes clear that higher-ups cannot try to intimidate us or to try to make it more difficult to communicate than it has to be. 

He also reported that our AAUP chapter issued an explanation of the report to all faculty and staff to contextualize Bucknell’s response, noting that if new members were not signed up in time to receive AAUP’s contextualization email, it is now up on our website. Ken also noted that in posting  that same explanation to the faculty/staff message center list, and also to the student list (because student employees weren’t notified at all), the message went into “the black box of moderation.” After some back-and-forth with the General Counsel, AAUP drafted a version of the announcement that did not include any names, and that made it to the message center without complaint.

Next, meeting facilitators solicited feedback, questions, and concerns from the assembled members:

Q: What are the best feedback mechanisms outside this room right now?

A: You can send an email to any member of the executive committee (Ken, Sue Ellen, or Bret), and there is also a form on the website that allows for anonymous submission of any concerns, so that people can protect their identity.

Q: I think this is wonderful, but it also feels like there are lots of other places for feedback, and it can make it hard to figure out where to go—it can make it feel like you’re going a lot of places with your concern, but it never comes full circle. Might pool resources, because there is a lot of committee overlap, and a lot of people are working on very similar things? Maybe there should be a little bit more coordination, so that people know exactly who they can speak to on certain topics.

A: The major benefit of AAUP is that our group is independent from Bucknell; although we draw from a pool of people who are on those committees, we are maintaining an independent organization so that we can seek aid outside of the university. Also, because we are a chapter of a national organization we have excellent resources available to us and can consult with other AAUPs as well. While it’s true that Bucknell internally has other avenues, we want to maintain our independence.

Q: Do you think it would be beneficial, if I’m talking to another staff member, to direct them to AAUP instead of a committee? In my experience, going to a committee doesn’t really go anywhere.

 A: To be honest, we don’t yet know how effective AAUP can be. We hope that when the executive committee corresponds with the administration, we’ll carry more weight as the size of our organization grows. We hope to expand our impact in that way.

Q: I have a question about archival material in AAUP. Is there a way of keeping documents, etc. outside the university system, or at least in a digital space that is more permanent than the stuff on the Bucknell system?

A: We have opted to be more accessible by using the resources that our constituencies have ready access to (email addresses, that whole infrastructure). But eventually, yes definitely we should maintain this separately. Right now, it’s about walking the fine line  between accessibility and privacy. But it’s definitely a larger project for the future.

To close out the meeting, the room heard some inspiring remarks from undergraduate organizer Bryce Merry, who has been actively involved in RA unionization efforts on campus. Bryce described the steps he and his organizing committee had taken thus far, and expressed his gratitude for AAUP’s support once the union goes public. AAUP will be issuing a statement recognizing the union efforts and going into more detail, once they officially go public in early March.

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