by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Lou Buttino writes for the Martin Center about the sorry state of faculty accountability on college campuses.
I became interested in academic accountability within the university because I had no choice: the lack of accountability I experienced at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington obligated me to act. I had become embroiled in a situation where I was morally bound to report wrongdoing. But I had no idea that being a “whistleblower” in higher education would take hundreds of hours of my time, and thousands of dollars in legal bills, with still no closure. I had little knowledge of the processes that governed faculty misconduct until I experienced them. …
… The standards and processes UNCW employs for the faculty fall far short of the student process. There is nothing online nor elsewhere that permits a faculty member to know what to expect upon entering the hearing process. Some information trickled out before the process began, but not enough to be meaningful. It seemed the Faculty Professional Relations Committee (FPRC) was making up the rules as we went along. I was unsure whether to go ahead with my grievance. The FPRC chair encouraged me to do so.
Unfortunately, UNCW faculty have apparently decided that no training in legal terms and concepts which serve students well is necessary. Nothing in the faculty handbook says otherwise. Not seeking help to understand matters not germane to our academic discipline seems to be a disease with us. Highly expert in one field, we assume we are expert in others. …
… There is more that makes the UNCW faculty hearings process decidedly inferior to that of its students. Faculty are not allowed to face their accuser, call witnesses, or even have an attorney present. The grievant presents their case in writing before the hearing; students do so on their feet and orally. Faculty receive questions they are going to be asked beforehand; students do not.