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Proposed rules would give UNL staff more academic freedom following a 2017 controversy

Posted at 6:07 PM, Feb 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-12 19:07:50-05

LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — The underlying incident occurred four years ago when graduate student lecturer, Courtney Lawson, yelled at a student for recruiting others to a controversial conservative group, Turning Point USA.

Lawson was removed from teaching and her contract was not renewed.

This led to the university being put on a censure list by the American Association of University Presidents.

Now, it appears faculty and administration at UNL have come to an agreement; changing their bylaws and hoping for more academic freedom in the future.

“I will tell you, as we review the language in here, this will put us at the lead of even within the Big Ten of what we are doing for academic freedom,” said Ted Carter, President, University of Nebraska.

Faculty members appeared to accomplish their goals of academic freedom and due process.

The new rules make for a more clear and direct process for complaints against contracted staff.

Including guaranteeing them a hearing, during which the university administration must prove the leave and/or termination was for a legal cause.

Putting the onus on administration, not the faculty member, to prove wrongdoing.

Via email, Faculty Senate President Nicole Buan told 3 News Now,“If a faculty (member) were placed on leave through end of contract out of desire to infringe on their academic freedom, it would be a wrongful termination,” said Buan.

Buan said the agreement protects the faculty and administration from outside influences.

She says the hope is that UNL gets off the censure list and is able to recruit the best and brightest.

“Getting off of the AAUP censure list is an important issue for faculty because no one wants to work at an institution with a less than stellar reputation,” says Buan.

In the virtual meeting, President Carter also announced that the two largest universities in the system — UNL and UNO — would not be raising dorm prices for next year.

“Given the far reaching impact of the global pandemic and its impact on its student and families, we took a good hard look at our room and board rates,” said Carter.

At UNO, the dorm rates will stay the same. At UNL, there will be a 2.2% decrease.

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