Bargaining XXXX: Pay, Consulting, NTTF’s, Free Speech, IP, Computers, Termination

Thursday, September 12, 1pm-5pm in Knight Library 101. This is the big one, be there. not the end, bring more colleagues next time, we’ll probably need an even bigger room as start of term approaches and raises, consulting, and IP come up.

PDFs of proposals submitted 9/12/2013 here.

Disclaimer: My respectful opinion of what people said, or were thinking but were too decent or well-paid to say. Nothing is a quote unless in quotes. If you don’t like my blog read Luebke’s.

Synopsis: 

Where’s interim Provost Scott Coltrane? Trying to cover his ass and get the permanent title.

The well paid but increasingly pathetic administration bargaining team has abandoned many of their long cherished proposals to punish the faculty for unionizing, take back faculty rights, and limit NTTF protections. The faculty union team is putting up counter after counter, signing off when the administration responds reasonably, and sticking to its guns when they don’t.

On raises, Gottfredson has known for a while that Rudnick and Moffitt’s claims that “the well is dry” aren’t true. But he’s just realizing that this will soon be common knowledge. Time is on the faculty’s side, and that also is common knowledge. If he’s smart he’ll do the backwards induction, jump to the unique sub-game perfect Nash equilibrium, and we’ll have a reasonable contract early next week.

Or at least that’s the theory, for rational agents.

In practice:

  • Gottfredson finally caves on his free speech restrictions, after being publicly shamed for them (con rispetto). Still work to be done on explicit protections for faculty who criticize the administration. Not that I ever would.
  • What do we have to do to get a similar story out on Gottfredson’s IP and consulting power grabs and his failure to be transparent about UO’s financial situation?
  • Contracts: Admin cuts union proposal for guaranteed contracts lengths, but keeps the principle of gradually longer contracts for NTTF’s as their rank increases, waffles on reasons for non-renewals.
  • Admin computer snooping: Rudnick: We backed off our previous claims that faculty had no expectation of privacy, after widespread faculty outrage. Now you’re trying to exploit our mistake to get a reasonable policy. That’s cheating!
  • That fact-checking job didn’t work out, so the admin team tries VPAA Barbara Altmann at the bargaining table: “That’s a very good question. I’m going to have to stop and think.” Rudnick shuts her up.

Voodoo is here:

Meanwhile the Insidehighered.com story on the academic freedom fight at UO is attracting a lot of comments there, and new visitors to UO Matters:

Rumor has it Howard Slusher will be replacing Sharon Rudnick at the bargaining table. She’s working on a case for Philip Morris, presumably pro-bono.

Sharon Rudnick delivers President Gottfredson’s message on the prospects for faculty raises:

“The well is dry. Hear me please. The well is dry.”

But “it’s a watershed moment”, and that water is flowing a little more freely over in the athletics department:

Synopsis from XXXIX:

  • Rudnick lectures faculty: Give up: “you all need to get focused on your students.”
  • Use of UO computers and networks: Geller is no longer claiming he can look at anything on your computer for any reason, but still reserves the right to look at it for any legal “administrative reasons”. Rudnick tries to sell this as a concession, raising the question of whether or not they meant “illegal” administrative reasons in their previous proposal. President Gottfredson signed a Senate approved policy in February, but the procedures required by that policy were still not in place as of August.
  • Academic Freedom and Free Speech: Current UO policy: “Free inquiry and free speech are the cornerstones of an academic institution committed to the creation and transfer of knowledge. Expression of diverse points of view is of the highest importance, not solely for those who present and defend some view but for those who would hear, disagree, and pass judgment on those views. The belief that an opinion is pernicious, false, and in any other way despicable, detestable, offensive or “just plain wrong” cannot be grounds for its suppression.” Admins propose to strike all this language.
  • Consulting and Intellectual property: sides are miles apart. Discussion to continue Th at 1PM.
  • Good news: UO’s US News ranking improves, which will mean a further strengthening in UO’s finances.
  • Salary: Goat is still on the table, union counter on Thursday? 
  • Retirement: Sitting on ~$150M in reserves, Jamie Moffitt wants the faculty to bear all the downside risk of an end to the 6% pickup.
  • Bottom line: Supposedly Gottfredson wants this deal done, but he is still trying to take back faculty rights that we have under current UO Intellectual Property, Academic Freedom, and Consulting policies.
Synopsis from XXXVII:

    Raises: The elevator version:

    We’re going down. During the first year of President Gottfredson’s administration UO faculty pay has fallen still further behind other AAU public universities:

    • Full profs: down from 85% to 82% 
    • Associate profs: down from 92% to 90% 
    • Assistant profs: down from 93% to 89%
    XXXX: Live-Blog:

    Good turnout. Donuts arrive. Looks like well over 100,000 kilocalories from here. Get yours!

    Barbara Altmann, putative author of the administration’s fact check pages, shows up to work the crowd. First times she’s shown up for 4 months?

    Rudnick: Barbara is here to talk about NTTF’s, and because she’s the only administrator left who we think might have a shred of credibility with the faculty. Debatable after this post – she won’t even answer emails about what’s posted on the admin fact check page.

    Art 23 Retirement, admin counter.

    Rudnick: 6% pickup, blah, blah, yada yada. I’m waiting for the union team to explain it.

    Mauer: Your proposal requires a causal connection between the state ending the pickup and cutting the budget. Rudnick: We agree that one legislators statement would not suffice to establish this. Mauer: Grievable. Rudnick: Yes.

    Cecil is hilarious.

    Braun catches Rudnick on coverage for ORP folks. Rudnick: We could add that.

    Academic Freedom and Free Speech, admin counter

    Rudnick: We added free speech back in the title and the unenforceable preamble. We take out “civilly” and now say “with respect” – which sounds better in Italian.

    Section 3: Admin now agrees to incorporate by reference the excellent language in the current Senate policy approved by President Lariviere in 2010, though Gottfredson manages to do that without saying the dread word “Senate”.

    Cecil: What’s the assurance that the University might no change Lariviere’s policy? Rudnick: You can put it in the appendix.

    Mauer: We disagreed about whether the freedom to criticize the administration is academic freedom or free speech, but I take this to mean that you agree that it exists, though you’re still not sure exactly why? Rudnick: Correct. To us it’s a distinction without meaning.

    Davidson: What about speech off campus, e.g. a City Club meeting, as a professor.

    Gleason: How could the university take action against a person for free speech. I can’t imagine an activity where the university would be able to discipline them. (Really Tim? No child porn examples for us this time?)

    Rudnick: I think that faculty speech off campus would be covered by the same rules as on campus speech.

    While the administration has backed down a lot, they are still unwilling to explicitly provide the protections for faculty who who criticize the administration that the Senate proposed in April, and which Gottfredson rejected.

    Here’s a clip from Margie Paris’s admirable rewrite of the Geller proposal, presented at the 4/17 meeting. Geller had removed “they are entitled to comment on our criticize University policies or decisions” from the original draft, and added a lot of other restrictive language. Ms Paris fixed it, and the Senate unanimously approved it. Then Gottfredson wouldn’t sign it. Why can’t we get that explicit protection in this contract?

    Article 9, contracts. Admin counter.

    Admin cuts union proposal for guaranteed contract lengths, but keeps the principle of gradually longer contracts for NTTF’s with longer time at UO. E.g. Senior Instructors get at least 2 years. (Union proposed 3).

    Mauer to Altmann: Why did you drop our language about reasonable standards for termination?

    Altmann: Lots of hypotheticals, e.g. we need to change from NTTF’s to TTF’s to teach more grad students (and fewer undergrads?)

    Mauer: Tries to pin her down – what would you agreed to? List of what reasons are allowed and what are not. Do you agree that there are some circumstances which are justification for non-renewal and others that are not?

    Blandy: There’s already plenty in the contract for NTTF guarantees. We’ve given up enough.

    Cecil: Barbara, you said you’d come up with 12 hypothetical reasons for legitimate non-renewals but you won’t tell us what they are. We’ve come so far – you now agree you can’t fire someone for filing a grievance. So why not agree you can’t terminate them for no reason?

    Rudnick: This is too much to deal with in one contract. The well of additional protection for NTTF’s is running dry.

    HAVE SOME DONUTS!

    Cecil: About up and out. Can a department establish a policy for up or out? Barbara starts talking, Rudnick interrupts: Under some circumstances, yes.

    Cecil gets into the nuts and bolts of proving non-renewal was not legit, given that the university will hide the documents, claiming attorney work-privilege.

    Faculty start giggling uncontrollably at Rudnick. She says she does not appreciate not being treated with respect. So, now we’ve got an operational definition of “respectful” in the free speech policy: No giggling.

    Rudnick: Don’t hold me to this, I’m not sure if Geller would agree, but how about if we say we have to provide a reason when we don’t renew someone?

    Wow. Did she really just say that? Green jumps on the idea. Blandy seems to agree. Then Rudnick pulls out her lawyer stuff, realizes it’s not going in a good direction, starts babbling.

    Green: You’ll provide an evidence based reason?

    Rudnick gets nervous. Altmann proposes the admin team tries to draft some language. Rudnick calls for a caucus break, desperate to get her team out of the room before they say too many more reasonable things.

    Braun wants to pin the admins down before allowing them to leave the table: What’s the connection between reviews and contract renewals? Can an NTTF get an excellent review, then get canned for some reason not related to their performance?

    Braun wants Altmann and Blandy to respond. Altmann: “That’s a very good question. I’m going to have to stop and think.” Lame.

    Blandy: After 8 months and $500K in Sharon’s pocket we’ve finally agreed to your proposals to help build a university where NTTFs would be treated with respect by the administration and be able to build a career here. Isn’t this bargaining going well!

    Barbara speaks out of turn: How about if we talk about maximum contract length now? Rudnick: Uh, no, lets not.

    Blandy: I know that we used the uncertainty of university budgeting to argue for a new UO Board, but now that we’ve got that we’re changing the story and blaming our consistent failure to budget on Brad Shelton and his budget model. So, we’ve got a problem with the April 1 deadline for renewals. How about May?

    2:27, caucus break
    3:20, they’re back. Still donuts, come on down, just don’t report them on the HEM form.

    Rudnick: Back on contracts. We will agree to a written explanation for non-renewal. Provost would have to sign it, so it would have to be articulated.

    Mauer: So, it could just say “We’re going in a different direction and you’re not part of it.” Not worth much Sharon, with respect. Mauer proposes better language.

    Rudnick: Starts to fall back into pissy mode. She’s very disrespectful, though not actually screaming this time. You could grieve that! We’re not willing to do that! It means that NTTF’s would have a job unless we could provide a reason to terminate them. (WTF?)

    Rudnick: “We do not have authority and will not agree to make termination decisions subject to any kind of cause or legitimacy review.”

    MOU on one-time reclassification of adjuncts, union proposal.

    This is about whether long-time part-time adjuncts will be eligible for one-year NTTF contracts. Braun gives a passionate, rational explanation.

    Rudnick: But your language would allow someone who has taught 1 class a year for 3 years to get a career contract.

    Braun: A one-year contract. Is that so horrible?

    Rudnick: We’ll need to caucus. Meanwhile, lets go on.

    Art 25: Termination for financial exigency or reorganization. Union counter.

    I’m eating pizza, read Luebke’s blog.

    Art 14: Appeal of tenure denial, union counter.

    I’m still eating pizza, read Luebke’s blog.

    Acceptable use of university computers and network, Union counter.

    Union’s Section 7 calls for a reasonable expectation of privacy for email, files. Requires admin to have a demonstrably legitimate reason to access info. Admins must notify the union and explain their reasons when admins start snooping around.

    Rudnick: Can we delete section 7 and incorporate current policy?

    You’re kidding me.

    Rudnick starts explaining why this would be OK. Even she doesn’t believe what she’s saying.

    Mauer: No, we like section 7 and the “reasonable expectation of privacy ….”

    Rudnick: That’s a legal term and we don’t want to have it in a contract, in case some lawyer might then try to use it to protect the faculty. If you take that out, we’ll sign this now.

    Mauer: No.

    Gleason: Tries to speak, not making sense, Rudnick won’t look at him. Mauer runs circles around him.

    Rudnick: We backed off our previous claims that faculty had no expectation of privacy, because of widespread faculty outrage. Now you’re trying to exploit our mistake to get a reasonable policy. That’s cheating!

    Rudnick thinks the union’s use of “reasonable” is unreasonable.

    Mauer: Let’s take a quick caucus and Rudnick and I can have a secret talk. Rudnick. Thanks.

    4:24, break. Lots of pizza and donuts left. 

    Here’s the policy that Rudnick wants the union to accept in lieu of Sec 7 above: http://policies.uoregon.edu/node/215

    Only authorized personnel [“Authorized Personnel” are persons, including employees, students, vendors, visitors, affiliates, and courtesy faculty, who have been authorized by UO to interact with information assets] may have access to the information assets. Such access may be granted only to the extent and for such time that a business need exists. Access shall be limited, using technical or procedural controls, to the least permission necessary for the performance of duties. The data owner [The Administration] is responsible for determining who may be granted access to data and information assets for which the data owner is responsible. A record of the request for access and grant of authority to access data or information assets shall be maintained by the data owner. [But does not need to be shown to the faculty.] It is the responsibility of all authorized personnel to protect data and information assets from unauthorized change, destruction or disclosure.

    So, don’t delete any of the files on your computer without authorization from Randy Geller.

    5:22, Union team is filtering back in, no admins yet. Cecil is ready to bargain all night, but library closes at 6, we’ll see what happens.

    5:40, they’re back.

    MOU on adjuncts. Rudnick: admin accepts. Wow, how many hours did Rudnick bill to fight this before finally agreeing to it with no changes?

    Art 14, promotion appeals:

    Rudnick: We changed it so the Provost appoints the members to the appeals committee. Blandy: Union can nominate a member, but Provost can reject. Otherwise OK. Mauer: Maybe.

    Termination w/o cause:

    Rudnick: Randy needs to read it, but thinks we’re close. He expresses his respect for the union’s work.

    Conflict of Interest. This is the missing admin proposal that has been holding up a union response to their power grab on consulting.

    Rudnick: Our proposal “clarifies and in some cases changes current UO policy” which the Senate approved just a while ago after much consultation and discussion.

    Art 30, on Overhead and Transparency:

    Rudnick: We haven’t talked about that with Randy yet, he starts chewing the rug whenever I mention transparency.

    Consulting: 

    Cecil: Current UO policy only requires prior approval for a few things. Your proposal seems to require prior approval for almost everything. What problems have arisen that motivate your drastic changes?

    Rudnick: I don’t know.

    Bramhall: When the admin tried to pull this a few years ago there was an uprising, long Senate debate, and a new policy was arrived at after much discussion. Why this sudden change, without notice or faculty consultation?

    Rudnick: No answer, she just looks very sad and tired.

    New bargaining sessions:

    Rudnick: This was the last scheduled session, we’ll talk about where we go from here.

    Mauer: Makes sense, we’d like to get you to agree to a schedule that will allow us to wrap this up next week.

    Rudnick: OK.

    5:52: That’s it for this week, see you next.

    Administration cracks down on critical blogging

    9/10/2013: That would be the Communist Party administration, in China. The NYT reports:

    Worried about its hold on public opinion, the Chinese government has pursued a propaganda and police offensive against what it calls malicious rumor-mongering online. Police forces across the country have announced the detentions of hundreds of microblog users since last month on charges of concocting and spreading false claims, often politically damaging. 

    … “You can intimidate people for a while, and those leading voices will be less vocal,” Mr. Xiao [a prolific blogger] said. “But it doesn’t mean that the government wins real credibility among people.”

    Here at UO President Gottfredson and Randy Geller are pursuing an academic freedom policy, outside of the normal shared governance procedures, that will potentially allow them to discipline me for writing this blog. They still refuse to release the names of the administrators who wrote the Open Letter attacking UO Matters, unless I pay them $215.

    UO demonstration in support of Turkish protestors

    “Call for Solidarity with the Protestors in Turkey In their Struggle to Defend Democracy
    Date: Tuesday, June 4, 2013
    Time: 2:00 PM
    Location: In front of Knight Library.
    Tens of thousands of protestors in Turkey have suffered, and resisted, state authorized police brutality for the last 6 days. The events began on May 27th at Gezi Park in Istanbul when police brutally attacked peaceful protestors. It was the 3rd day of a sit-in protesting the decision to demolish the park as part of government plans to redevelop Taksim Square. What started out as an environmentalist campaign evolved into a civil resistance movement. Thousands of otherwise unaffiliated people spontaneously flooded into the park and the square in support of the protestors, rallying against the relentless police violence. The ever-increasing police cruelty has culminated in protests springing up suddenly all over the nation. The protestors hail from many social, cultural, and political backgrounds. Meanwhile, the police continue to exert excessive force on civilians who have come together to support shared values, such as democracy and personal liberty. This ongoing resistance speaks of the urgency to recognize the voice of the people in the face of an increasingly repressive and aggressive government.

    As the students, staff, and faculty from Turkey at the University of Oregon and the GTFF, we ask for your support as we gather together for solidarity with the civilians of Turkey. They struggle bravely and peacefully to protect their basic human rights and refuse to surrender their liberties under state oppression. They resist and confront extreme police brutality under very dire circumstances. Acts of solidarity are particularly important at this moment, as they will help highlight the struggle and will show support for our friends, families, and thousands of people we have never met. Your valuable support and solidarity will greatly fortify our determination and resistance.”

    Randy Geller would never do this,

    would he? NYT:

    Harvard secretly searched the e-mail accounts of several of its staff members last fall, looking for the source of news media leaks about its recent cheating scandal, but did not tell them about the searches for several months, people briefed on the matter said on Saturday.

    Under state law he can. Thanks to a fellow paranoid for the tip. 3/10/2013.

    University president personally liable for expelling student over free speech

    2/1/2013: The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education helped the student pursue the case:

    A federal jury today found former Valdosta State University (VSU) President Ronald M. Zaccari personally liable for $50,000 for violating the due process rights of former student Hayden Barnes in the case of Barnes v. Zaccari. In May 2007, Zaccari expelled Barnes for peacefully protesting Zaccari’s plan to construct two parking garages on campus, calling a collage posted by Barnes on his personal Facebook page a “threatening document” and labeling Barnes a “clear and present danger” to VSU.

    UO will defend its coaches – but the professors?

    Update: See the comments for this correction, from Ms Emeldi’s lawyer, David Force, making clear that the Emeldi case is against UO, not against Prof Horner:

    There is not now and never has been a lawsuit by her against Dr. Horner. The sole defendant in the case is the University itself. Title IX of the Education Act is directed to institutions, not individuals, who receive Federal funding support. Monica’s lawsuit seeks damages and equitable remedies (an injunction) against the University for retaliating against her for criticizing Dr. Horner.

    10/30/2012. UO has spent something north of $150,000 on lawyers to defend Coach Chip Kelly in the Willie Lyles NCAA investigation. Add in the hours for Jim O’Fallon, Rob Mullens, and the general counsel’s office, not to mention three UO president’s so far, and the cost has to be well over $500,000. There’s no sign that UO is going to ask Kelly to help pay for any of it.

    But suppose a case involving a UO professor and substantive questions of academic freedom comes up. Well, one such 2005 case involved law school professor Merle Weiner, sued for defamation by someone who didn’t like the description of his court case that she published in a law journal. President Frohnmayer and his general counsel Melinda Grier decided not to defend her. UO argued – I’m not making this up – that publishing was not part of a professor’s job responsibilities. Weiner had to pay for her own defense, and she settled out of court.

    Now there’s another important UO case, involving a conflict between Ed School professor Rob Horner and former PhD student Monica Emeldi. The appeals court ruling against Horner has attracted national attention because it allows grad students to use Title IX anti-discrimination law to file suits against the professors who advise their research – apparently a first.

    It’s a controversial decision, Diane Dietz had an excellent write up in the RG Sunday. So is UO going to defend its faculty this time? Randy Geller gives a resounding maybe:

    “We have reason to believe that this would be a good candidate for review because it has academic freedom and Constitutional implications,” Geller said. “The question we have to ask ourselves, first of all, is it worth seeking review? If review were to be granted, then are we prepared for the cost of (review)?”

    I’m all for applying cost/benefit analysis. I just don’t trust Randy Geller to do anything better than a hack job at it. The UO Senate should make this call – unless Johnson Hall is now going to start arguing that advising PhD students is not part of a professor’s job responsibilities either.

    It’s worth noting that there is a policy on legal services in the works – but it’s been stalled for almost a year. Geller’s original version created a firestorm in the Senate Executive Committee, and he refused to show up and defend it.

    Koch Foundation Chairs

    5/11/2011: The ivory tower has never been exactly snowy white, but here is an example of a particularly egregious case, the Koch gifts to fund chairs in Free Market Economics at Florida State. Fascinating gift letter/contract here, news story from Kris Hundley of the St. Petersburg Times (that’s Florida, not Russia), here:

    Under the agreement with the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, however, faculty only retain the illusion of control. The contract specifies that an advisory committee appointed by Koch decides which candidates should be considered. The foundation can also withdraw its funding if it’s not happy with the faculty’s choice or if the hires don’t meet “objectives” set by Koch during annual evaluations.

    I really love this quote though, which gets to the nut of the issue:

    Said Washburn, author of University Inc., a book on industry’s ties to academia: “This is an egregious example of a public university being willing to sell itself for next to nothing.”

    Ceding a less egregious amount of control, or getting a better price, that’s a different matter. Let’s talk turkey.

    Ai Weiwei

    4/21/2011: Posted at the request of UO historian Glenn Anthony May:

    I received an Email today from a distinguished China scholar who asks whether the University of Oregon has had public discussions concerning the “illegal detention of Ai Weiwei.” I can’t answer that. (Here is one event at PSU.) Are any UOMatters readers aware of such events at UO?

    As UO Matters readers are doubtless aware, the internet is flooded with stories about Ai Weiwei. Here are few links to recently posted stories and columns:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/20/opinion/20Rushdie.html?hp

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2011/04/16/135464899/art-and-consequence-a-talk-with-chinas-controversial-ai-weiwei

    http://www.pekingduck.org/2011/04/the-global-times-and-ai-weiwei/

    http://www.asiasentinel.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3129&Itemid=258

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/2011/04/crackdown-on-ai-weiwei-extends-to-family-friends-and-associates.html?utm_campaign=homepage&utm_medium=feeds&utm_source=feeds&utm_nooveride=1

    If you have any information to share, please post a comment. Glenn Anthony May.

    After blacklisting them over the Dalai Lama

    4/5/2011: The original decision generated a lot of bad press about China’s intentions regarding academic freedom at its Confucius Institutes. From Insidehighered.com:

    China Again Recognizes U. of Calgary

    China has restored the University of Calgary to the country’s list of accredited universities, a list that many Chinese students rely upon when deciding where to enroll, The Calgary Herald reported. The university disappeared from the list last year, following a visit to the campus by the Dalai Lama.

    Confucius Institute at UO

    3/8/2011 update: Richard Read of the Oregonian gets some amazing quotes on this, from the PSU CI head.

    3/6/2011: The London School of Economics has thoroughly embarrassed itself with its ties to the Gaddafi regime. The world now knows you can buy an LSE PhD and whatever that brings in international respectability – or once brought – for a few million quid.

    Is UO on a similar track with our Chinese government funded Confucius Institute? China is no Libya, but this article by UO history Professor Glenn May in the Asia Sentinel raises the sorts of questions that the LSE apparently found too uncomfortable to ask – until it was too late.

    Abstract from the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization:

    Since 2001, China has funded nonprofit Chinese language institutes in nearly100 countries. The institutes have since branched out into business and other areas while also funding scholarships and study in China. In an article for the Asia Sentinel, Glenn Anthony May of the University of Oregon points out that the centers of study come with conditions, including support for a one-China policy that denies recognition of Taiwan as a state. Donors influence campus management and presentations, and schools with Confucius Institutes may avoid open discussions on Tibet or the 1989 Tiananmen protest against Chinese government policies. He argues: “Once the perks from Hanban begin to arrive, professors at universities with CIs become extremely reluctant to do anything to upset their generous benefactors.” Colleges have become complicit in Chinese propaganda and censorship, and May blames the Chinese scholars who comply with restrictions, yet understand the issues of history and need for free debate better than most. – YaleGlobal

    Here is just one of the troubling examples in the article:

    But it’s not just Taiwan that receives special treatment. Two other “T” words are anathema to Beijing, and hence to Hanban: Tibet and Tiananmen. Don’t expect any universities with CIs to arrange a visit of the Dalai Lama anytime soon or to schedule a symposium on the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989. In Canada last year, during riots in Tibet, the head of a Confucius Institute at the University of Waterloo succeeded in reversing the direction of coverage and getting a major Canadian television station to apologize for its previous pro-rebel coverage. …

    Under the circumstances, the academy cannot expect the China scholars, the supposed experts on things Chinese, to police the activities of the institutes. They are, sad to say, a hopelessly compromised lot. Nor can we expect university administrators to do so either – many of them have played key roles in establishing Confucius Institutes on their campuses. That leaves the rest of us. If you care about free speech and believe that the university should provide an open forum for discussion and debate, you should be concerned. 

    Peter Schmidt of the Chronicle has an article here on the pros and cons. (Accessible from campus IP addresses.) Some excerpts:

    Like the 60 other Confucius Institutes that have cropped up at colleges around the United States since 2004, the Maryland facility was established with the blessing, and the money, of the People’s Republic of China. The Chinese government continues to give it about $100,000 in financial support annually, and to pay the instructors from China who teach there. Such arrangements allow colleges to provide a lot more instruction and programming related to China. …

    Other colleges have heard protests from Chinese officials over plans to let the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual and cultural leader, speak on their campuses. Although the University of Washington played host to the Dalai Lama over Chinese objections in 2008, it came under fire for taking steps to ensure that he would not be asked questions dealing with the autonomy of Tibet or China’s crackdown on unrest there. In Canada, the University of Calgary’s decision to award an honorary degree to the Dalai Lama last year was followed by its removal from the Chinese government’s list of universities it classifies as accredited.

    Since the first Confucius Institute in the United States was established here at Maryland, in late 2004, however, there have been no complaints of the institutes’ getting in the way of academic freedom on American campuses or of Chinese officials’ using their government’s financial support for the institutes as leverage to get American colleges to squelch speech they oppose. …

    The Confucius Institutes are distinct, however, both in their tendency to be housed within universities and in the degree to which they are financed and managed by a foreign government. Hanban is overseen by officials of a long list of national ministries, including those of education, culture, commerce, and foreign affairs.