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Our Victory: Girod rejects KBOR policy

Last Thursday, Chancellor Girod informed the Kansas Board of Regents that KU would not make use of the emergency policy for suspending tenure protections and established procedures of due process. This is a relief. It is also a victory; our victory. We called upon the Chancellor to decline this expansion of firing power in an open letter endorsed by thousands of colleagues and supporters as well as dozens of professional associations, and after five months he heeded our call.

We celebrate this decision as a moment of hope for the future of KU and, most importantly, as evidence of what our collective organizing can do.

Thank you for your work in making this possible. You signed and circulated open letters, wrote op-eds, attended protests and town halls. You brought international attention to this issue. You articulated the implications and ramifications of this short-sighted policy. And you did it all while navigating a difficult academic year amidst a pandemic.

The administration continues to insist that the extended consideration of the policy was necessary, even as the uncertainty it engendered drained morale and damaged our reputation. In her statement following the decision, Provost Bichelmeyer defended the move, stating “We will always be clear about our primary responsibility to ensure the future of this university, even when it involves measures that challenge our nature and our community.”

We dispute this. A University is its people. Without us - all of us - there is no future of KU worth protecting. We reject the idea that there is value in KU aside from its nature as an institution of engaged learning and a community of scholars.

The rejection of this policy is a substantial victory, but significant challenges to our community remain. The majority of our colleagues continue to work without the protections of tenure. Programs and departments are being discontinued, and we are all being threatened with new workload policies and budget challenges. This month’s KBOR meeting saw the expansion of concealed carry on campus to age 18 and up, while an earlier inquiry asked all Regents’ schools to provide a list of courses teaching Critical Race Theory. Finally, in its push to return to normal in the fall, the administration ignores on-going considerations of public health and safety for our campus and community.

We hope the Chancellor’s decision, and the regional easing of the pandemic, are allowing you and yours a restorative summer. One Minute with OneKU will be on vacation until August, but we are continuing to monitor KU’s ad hoc reopening plan for the fall. In the meantime, we invite you to check out our new website, which includes an archive of all our previous One Minutes. You’ll also find links to send us a message and get involved with our efforts.

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