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When administrators at Northeastern Illinois University informed Professor Loretta Capeheart that she would not receive a merit increase that she had earned, or be appointed chair of her department, a position to which she had been elected by her colleagues, she called the AAUP. Capeheart believes that the administration retaliated against her for speaking out about its anemic minority recruiting and retention efforts and its infringement of students’ rights. And she is concerned that the administration’s actions violated important academic freedom and free speech principles.

We agree. That’s why the AAUP’s Legal Defense Fund is supporting a lawsuit Capeheart filed against the responsible university administrators.

Your contribution to the AAUP

enables us to lend this kind of support.

Capeheart’s case is an important push back against the pressure to restrict speech rights of faculty and academic professionals, particularly when difficult economic times make faculty vulnerable.

The right of faculty members to speak out on issues of public concern is becoming increasingly fragile. The role of academic professionals is more tenuous now than in recent memory. The financial realities of the economic downturn have put even greater pressure on outspoken faculty members and academic professionals to “go along to get along.” The AAUP is facing this pressure head on through our Speak Up, Speak Out campaign.

Support for litigation is an important aspect of this fight. The cost of litigation is very high, and individual faculty members cannot hope to match the deep pockets of many institutions. Neither can the AAUP—but with your help, we can make a difference. Membership dues alone cannot fund this important work; your contributions are vital.

“Because taking a stand as an individual faculty member is not only incredibly expensive, but can be entirely crushing of one’s career, the support of the AAUP allows relief from the financial burdens but more importantly places the entire body of this respected institution on the side of the entire faculty whose free speech rights or other rights are being contested,” says Capeheart.

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