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Thursday, October 11 • 4:00pm - 5:30pm
Supporting Academic Workers Targeted for Harassment: An Information Sharing and Strategy (Un)Workshop

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This “unconference”-style workshop will generate strategies for mobilizing the expertise at AoIR to address a pressing problem facing scholars, researchers and teachers. In recent years, academic workers, especially junior, untenured, adjunct faculty and graduate instructors, have been increasingly targeted by organized campaigns from far-right, white supremacist and sexist groups aimed at denying them academic freedom, jobs, and sometimes safety. (Embrick & Brunsma, 2017) Many campaigns have their roots in earlier racist and antifeminist movements that relied on the internet to generate energy and coordinate attacks (such as gamergate and #endfathersday). Some are now coordinated by organizations like TPUSA and Campus Reform. Unfortunately many university administrations and departments appear woefully uninformed by the latest and best scholarship on how such campaigns work. (Cuevas, 2017; Ferber, 2017, p. 40), and responses have mainly been fragmentary and individual. So far, university’ responses have sometimes constrained academic freedom (American Association of University Professors, 2017; Schmidt, 2017), and people have lost their jobs, faced harassment, death threats and other threats of violence. (Henry, 2017) These threats have especially targeted the most vulnerable and least represented: faculty of color and white women, queer faculty, and faculty with citizenship outside their country of employment.(Mason, 2017) These campaigns endanger the quality of teaching and research, including its ability to represent and serve diverse communities and work against white supremacy, against sexism, against antisemitism, and against fascism.

This (un)workshop focuses especially on collective, institutional and organizational responses to support vulnerable academic workers, and will generate a list of possible actions and working groups focused on pursuing them beyond the boundaries of the workshop: preparing people to offer expert advice and analysis to universities, coordinating with relevant unions and professional organizations, writing letters to the editor or providing experts who can speak in an informed way on TV, radio or in other media platforms. Organizers and participants will bring expertise and experience from within and outside the academy. AoIR is well situated to provide scholarly and professional expertise and analysis to universities, departments, unions, and media in order to reverse this dynamic, and to provide some institutional support for individuals whose institutions may not recognize what is at stake or wish to minimize confrontation at the expense of vulnerable employees.

Outcomes for the workshop include but are not limited to:

1) Working groups on prioritized issues, including outreach to people not present.

2) A list of institutional and collective resources that can be mobilized by AoIR members including ideas for how to mobilize them

3) Templates for op-eds, letters to administrators and press releases

4) A list of other institutions/organizations that we could link up with and/or pressure as members or experts

5) A group of people who can collect and evaluate existing lists of “best practices” to be deployed by individuals and departments before, during, and after these kinds of attacks

6) A skeleton response framework for how to mobilize collective responses.

Thursday October 11, 2018 4:00pm - 5:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Salon 6