Academic Freedom for NTTF

Non-tenure track faculty, theoretically, have the same academic freedom protections provided by the courts, university policy, and the Collective Bargaining Agreement as their tenured brethren. Unlike the tenured faculty, however, they can be non-renewed for almost any reason before promotion and for limited, but subjective, reasons after promotion. Whether there can be true academic freedom without tenure is a subject that has been explored and debated within the academy for decades.

In the brief existence of United Academics, we are not aware of any NTTF contesting their non-renewal solely on academic freedom grounds. The academic freedom rights of NTTF were, however, tested during the 2014 GTFF strike. As the administration hurriedly prepared for the strike, many NTTF were asked to "voluntarily" cover for striking GEs and felt uncomfortable refusing the assignment. Many NTTF also expressed feeling uncomfortable speaking out at department meetings where strike planning was taking place. There was tremendous pressure on department heads to institute an emergency plan and many NTTF were afraid to openly dissent, knowing their jobs were up for renewal in a few short months.

The AAUP, among others, has been studying the issue and has made recommendations, including teaching-intensive tenure lines.