GOP lawmakers plan to ban more college majors in FL like ethnic studies, ‘radical’ feminist theory

Florida State University. Photo: Diane Rado, Florida Phoenix

State has been a frequent model for NC Republicans

Republican lawmakers are proposing to expand legislation that would further limit majors and minors available to Florida university students, which would exacerbate concerns from faculty and other opponents of the bill that has already shaken up higher education in the state.

The legislation also would further undermine tenure protections for professors.

The bill in question is HB 999 and it’s called Public Postsecondary Educational Institutions. Lawmakers will be discussing an updated version at a Monday committee meeting, where they will decide whether to accept or reject new expanded language in the bill.

The American Association of University Professors said that the proposed language would “enact the most draconian restrictions on higher ed in US history. It bans all majors & minors in ANY critical theory & allow unqualified political appointees to call for post-tenure review of any faculty member at any time,” according to a Saturday tweet.

As currently written, HB 999 prompts the Board of Governors, which oversees the state university system, to give “direction to each constituent university on removing from its programs any major or minor in Critical Race Theory, Gender Studies, or Intersectionality, or any derivative major or minor of these belief systems,” according to the legislation.

But lawmakers will consider an expansion to the bill Monday which would direct the Board of Governors to “provide direction to each constituent university to remove from its programs any major or minor that is based on or otherwise utilizes pedagogical methodology associated with Critical Theory, including, but not limited to, Critical Race Theory, Critical Race Studies, Critical Ethnic Studies, Radical Feminist Theory, Radical Gender Theory, Queer Theory, Critical Social Justice, or Intersectionality, as defined in Board of Governors regulation.”

The majors and minors listed in a staff analysis, which is created by the GOP-controlled Legislature, may not reflect what these majors or minors are actually called in other higher education settings. Read more

Duke grad students continue unionization efforts without recognition from administration

Duke University graduate student workers rally for union recognition.

Duke University grad students are pushing forward with their campaign to unionize, despite the administration declining to voluntarily recognize and negotiate with their union.

As Policy Watch has reported, the Duke Graduate Students Union filed for a union election last Friday.

In a Monday e-mail to doctoral students and faculty, Interim Provost Jennifer Francis said Duke negotiates and has good relationships with a number of unions, including the Duke Faculty Union and  Duke University Press Workers Union. But the university looks at its relationship with its students differently, she wrote.

“The University’s institutional position remains that Duke’s relationship with our students is centered on education, training, and mentorship, fundamentally different from that of employer to employee,” Francis wrote.

“Ph.D. students are not admitted to do a job,” she wrote. ” They are selected because of their potential to be exceptional scholars. The experience of teaching and conducting research is designed to prepare them for a multitude of careers in classrooms, laboratories, industry, and non-profits — a model that has served generations of graduate students well.”

Read more

New Meredith College poll looks at views on discrimination, Equal Rights Amendment

New polling from Meredith College examines North Carolinians’ views of discrimination and the Equal Rights Amendment, which seeks to provide protections for those experiencing it.

The full report on the poll, produced in partnership with the ERA-NC Alliance, was published Monday. It delves into how different North Carolinians see discrimination against an array of different groups – from Black and Hispanic people to LGBTQ people and religious groups like Jews and Evangelical Christians.

“The issue of discrimination and what can be done about it is as old as the United States,” the report reads. “Protecting voting rights for all citizens, the fight for equal pay for equal work, and for being treated equally in criminal matters have a long history in this country. Recently, prominent hate crimes against many groups, such as the mass shooting of Black persons in Buffalo or attacks against synagogues and their congregants, have raised additional concerns about how laws grounded in the United States Constitution can protect the country’s citizens.”

“In addition, many politicians have attacked the issue of  ‘wokeness’ as a way of targeting marginalized groups, such as the LGBTQ+ community, making it more acceptable to discriminate against members of these groups,” the report reads. “It is within this cultural and political context that we decided to survey North Carolinians about their perceptions of discrimination against traditionally marginalized groups in society, such as
women and Black people. We also decided to ask citizens about their perceptions of groups not
considered to be historically marginalized groups—men and White people—to determine
similarities and differences between perceptions of discrimination between historically
marginalized and historically elevated groups.”

Read more

The month ahead in Higher Ed

Mark your calendars for these higher education related meetings, listening sessions and events over the next month:

Wednesday, March 8

“The Politics of the Marvel Cinematic Universe” – a panel discussion promoting the new book in which more than 25 scholars examine the way the phenomenally successful Marvel superhero films go beyond mere thrills, delivering messages about government, public policy and society.

The discussion will include Lilly Goren, book co-editor and professor at Carroll University; Nick Carnes, book co-editor and professor at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy; Eric Degeans, NPR TV critic and professor at Duke’s DeWitt Wallace Center and Tom DeFalco, writer and former editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics.

The event kicks off at  5 p.m. in the Holsti-Anderson Room (Room 153) at Rubenstein Library, on Duke’s West Campus at 411 Chapel Hill Drive in Durham. Parking is available at the Bryan Center garage on Science Drive.

Monday March 13

Listening session with The Governor’s Commission on the Governance of Public Universities in North Carolina Charlotte Area Chamber of Commerce, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Gov. Cooper created the commission through an executive order in November, citing a series of scandals involving the UNC System and its constituent universities. The commission is co-chaired by former UNC System Presidents Tom Ross and Margaret Spellings, a Democrat and Republican respectively. Read more

“An inherent conflict of interests”: Governors’ commission members talk lobbyists, diversity in UNC System governance

This week members of the Governor’s Commission on the Governance of Public Universities in North Carolina continued their series of listening sessions, meeting to hear from the public in Asheville.

At their Tuesday meeting, the second of six planned sessions, members took on questions of diversity on the board and the thorny issue of whether lobbyists should serve on the board.

Lou Bissette, a member of the commission who spent 12 years on the UNC Board of Governors and currently serves on the UNC-Asheville Board of Trustees, said independence is crucial at both the trustee and UNC System governance level. For that reason, he said, he believes there should be more scrutiny over who can serve.

Louis Bissette Jr.

“There are people who don’t like my saying this, but I don’t think we ought to have lobbyists on the board of governors,” Bissette said. “Because although they’re great people, they have an inherent conflict of interests. And right now we do have a number of lobbyists on our board of governors. I think that’s something this commission should look at.”

At issue is a longstanding question: Should lobbyists, whose livelihoods depend on currying favor with members of the North Carolina General Assembly, serve on a board which has long struggled – and often failed –  to maintain its independence in fraught political circumstances?

In 2021 lawmakers – with support of some board members themselves – filed a bill that would have barred lobbyists from the board.

“It’s critical that we establish an independent Board of Governors separate and apart from the General Assembly so the university can carry out its mission of world class teaching, research and service,” Sen. Jay Chaudhuri (D-Wake), one of the bill’s sponsors, told Policy Watch at the time.“I think for the sake of the UNC system and for our citizens, the General Assembly must do everything it can to remove partisan politics from the appointment process,” Chaudhuri said. “I believe one of those steps would be barring lobbyists from serving on the UNC Board of Governors. I remain concerned that the UNC Board of Governors has become a revolving door of lobbyists and retired legislators. I think at the end of the day, those types of appointments will result in undue political interference from the legislature.” Read more