That stands for American Association of University Professors. They are the collective bargaining unit for many of my colleagues across the country at schools where the faculty are unionized. Not here at George Mason, but still the local chapter is very active. Yesterday, after more than two decades at my university, I attended my first AAUP event (virtually of course). It was a very positive experience.

Why? First, it’s heartening to have an organization that exists to protect your role in the labor force. At yesterday’s meeting, there were conversations about COVID19, protection of faculty intellectual property and work-load expectations. You don’t get that stuff so much at faculty meetings. Or at least, when there are administrators in the room, it’s a very different tone.

Second, AAUP’s primary historical role has been to protect the idea of academic freedom in American colleges and universities. This is why tenure came to be in the first place: to protect faculty from being fired because of their political views or their scholarship. As a tenured faculty member, this is something I value a lot.

I remember hearing about the organization from my faculty member parents both at Michigan and Caltech. They were both very enamored with both the idea of a faculty union and its practical day-to-day function. I think I am also.