October 2005 AAUP Voice
Chapter Elections in November
Vote for Executive Council Officers
Elections for AAUP Executive Council officers will be held in November. Ballots will be mailed to AAUP members on Nov. 7 and must be returned to the AAUP office by Nov. 15. The results will be posted at the AAUP’s new website and also announced in the Dec. newsletter.
With the balloting taking place from Nov. 7-15, the election process will be completed by the week before Thanksgiving.
On pages 3 and 4 of this issue you will find a list of candidates recommended by the Executive Council. Other AAUP members are also free to run. To do so, an individual may either nominate her/himself or be nominated by another member of the UD chapter. In either case, such a nomination must be accompanied by the signatures of at least ten AAUP members. Anyone interested in running should consult the appropriate sections of the By-Laws. Nominations must be submitted no later than Oct. 24, 2005.
Harassment at Barnes and Noble
Intellectual Space & Public Forums
The academic freedom and shared governance which are central to our lives as teachers and scholars are part of a wider social, legal and cultural fabric that supports intellectual discussion and debate. Without these broader supports, the freedom to conduct research and to teach creatively would become restricted and increasingly subject to externally imposed, politically driven threats and limitations. Consequently, it is incumbent on the academic community to express concern when reasoned debate and discussion are curtailed in the wider society.
A clear example of such a problem occurred in Delaware at the Barnes and Noble bookstore in North Wilmington this past August.
The infringement on free discussion took place at a Barnes and Noble-hosted book-signing for Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania who was in town to drum up sales for his book, It Takes a Family. Immediately prior to the event, when it was reported to Santorum’s security team that two college students from Newark and several high school students from Glen Mills, PA. were overheard discussing their opposition to some of Santorum’s views, the team concluded that the young people represented a security threat. The team’s leader, Michael DiJiacomo, an off-duty Delaware State Police Sgt. dressed in full uniform including a holstered pistol, proceeded to inform the students that they had to leave the bookstore and were additionally prohibited from reassembling in the adjacent Concord Mall on the other side of the parking lot. When the students indicated they weren’t sure their ejection was legal, DiJiacomo threatened them with arrest and jail time. Although the incident ended without any arrests, at least one of the young people was forced to lean against a car with her back to DiJiacomo while being interrogated.
According to a Barnes and Noble spokesperson, the incident was not the bookseller’s fault since the company ceded power over security matters to Santorum’s people. But as Tom Neuberger, a well-known lawyer, told The News Journal, the “ceding” defense dodges the real issue: free expression in a changing world.
According to Neuberger, one characteristic of post-9/11 America is the federal government’s increased tendency to limit “people’s free speech rights at public venues” where the president is scheduled to appear, a tendency, Neuberger contends, that has been facilitated by the Secret Service’s use of local police forces to identify and sometimes round up “anyone who looks like they might be a protester.”
Now, Neuberger says, there is an effort afoot to broaden this restrictive environment so that more politicians can benefit from free speech curtailments. This, he suggests, is one of the implications of the Barnes and Noble incident. Initially, it was just the president and his cabinet who benefited, but now government ideologues, Neuberger argues, “want to see if the U.S. senators can get away with it.”
Mary Doria Russell, author of A Thread of Grace, a recent novel about Jews escaping work camp executions at the end of WWII in Italy, also found the Barnes and Noble incident troubling. As she said in a public statement about the incident:
“When I began a 21-city book tour to support A Thread of Grace, I was prepared to deal with Holocaust deniers and anti-Semitic skinhead nutjobs who might show up at bookstores to harass me. I figured I could do that without an armed guard, but evidently Senator Rick Santorum isn’t as confident that he can handle folks exercising their constitutional rights to free speech and freedom of assembly . . . For his August 10, 2005 visit to the Barnes and Noble Bookstore in Concord Mall, Santorum had Delaware State Police Sgt. Michael DiJiacomo to protect him — not from skinheads, anti-Semites, and Holocaust deniers — but from teenage girls.”
With the Concord Pike incident inciting so much controversy nationally as well as locally, it is important to focus on an aspect of the incident that is also significant but that has not been mentioned yet: how what happened to the students relates to the impact of bookstore conglomerates on free speech in general.
* Independent booksellers, with their track record of supporting “outsider” authors and non-mainstream publications, are currently responsible for only about 15 percent of book sales nationally. This is the lowest percent ever recorded.
* From 1991-2003, membership in the American Booksellers Association (the independent bookstore organization) dropped by 48.5 percent, representing a decline from 5,132 bookstores to 2,643.
* Of the $10.7 billion in bookstore sales in 2002, Barnes and Noble’s and Borders’ sales accounted for $7.1 billion or 66.4 percent.
* The power of bookstores over what we read is exemplified by the fact that publishers increasingly query giant book retailers and the largest book clubs to find out if books being considered for publication are of interest to these companies. A “no” answer hinders the possibility of publication.
*The increased monopolization of book sales by the book retail giants has its parallel in book publishing which is currently dominated by five conglomerate publishers: Random House, Inc., Penguin Putnam Inc., HarperCollins, Holtzbrinck Publishing Holdings, Time Warner, Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Of the giant U.S. book retailers, Barnes and Noble is the largest with 650 superstores in 49 states and the District of Columbia. It also operates 200 mall stores under the name of B. Dalton, Doubleday and Scribners, owns an online channel and engages in a variety of publishing activities, including Sterling Publishing. In its bookstores, Barnes and Noble hosted more than 100,000 community events throughout the country last year, including ones like the Santorum book-signing.
To some people, such facts may seem to indicate something positive: the triumph of literacy. But as we have shown above, a close look at the data shows how Barnes and Noble’s growth exemplifies a trend of less diversity within the book-production and book-selling industries. This trend raises legitimate concerns about the impact of superstores on free speech and the public discussion of ideas.
Barnes and Noble Booksellers, Inc.
Coupled with Barnes and Noble’s megastore activities is its expansion into higher education through Barnes and Noble College Booksellers, Inc. which runs 500 campus bookstores nationwide, including one at the University of Delaware. Although established as an independent entity, Barnes and Noble College Booksellers has very close ties with Barnes and Noble, as exemplified by the fact that the Barnes and Noble CEO, Leonard Riggio, also owns a controlling interest in Barnes and Noble College Booksellers, Inc.
Like the corporation that spawned it, the College Booksellers company has been plagued by accusations of monopoly. One of the criticisms made most often is that, by prioritizing the corporate bottom line over student and faculty needs, Barnes and Noble’s campus bookstores and their imitators have caused textbook prices to soar. A July 2005 report from the Government Accounting Office has added to this debate. The report announced that textbook prices increased 186 percent (twice the inflation rate) over the last two decades and that the average student now spends approximately $900 annually on textbooks and supplies. In Illinois, these figures prompted some politicians to draft legislation that, if passed, will force university bookstores in the state to make available lower-priced “unbundled” textbooks that can be bought without accompanying CD’s and workbooks.
From the rough handling of students at the Santorum book-signing at the Barnes and Noble store in North Wilmington to ever-mounting textbook costs, issues related to free speech and the ongoing corporatization of higher education are spawned by the growth of mega boo retailers like Barnes and Noble.
Our New Website
Faculty should check out the union’s revamped, professionally designed website (www.udel.edu/aaup). It contains links to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, Bylaws, Faculty Handbook, Newsletters, Executive Council minutes and other important documents. Also, contact information is provided for all AAUP officers, as well as for Steering Committee members, and departmental and committee representatives.
Executive Council Candidate Recommendations
For President: Linda Bucher
I came to the university in 1990 to teach in the School of Nursing. I currently hold a joint position with Christiana Hospital as the Nursing Research Facilitator. I have been a member of the AAUP since 1991 and have held the following positions: Steering Committee member, At-Large member of the Executive Council, Vice-President of the Exec. Council, President of the Executive Council, and Member of the Bargaining Team (2003-2005 contract).
As president, I have worked to increase communication between the Steering Committee, the Department representatives, and the Executive Council. Executive Council meeting agendas are circulated to the Steering Committee and minutes are currently available on the web site. Most notably, the bylaws were revised to increase representation across the colleges. The UD AAUP brochure has been redesigned and the AAUP Student Award has been doubled.
The AAUP web site has been completely redesigned to provide more information to our membership and easier access to the members of the Executive Council and Steering Committee members. We have offered an incentive to new faculty to join the AAUP (free local and national dues for one year) and maintain the incentive (free local dues for one year) for current faculty. We employ a part-time office manager to further facilitate communication and chapter operations. We have also filled the position of Grievance Officer to allow better separation between contract questions and (potential) grievances.
I have been directly involved in three successful contract negotiations (as Steering Committee member, Bargaining team member, and President).
Should I be elected, my immediate plans for the chapter include the continuation of efforts to increase communication among the Steering Committee, Departmental Representatives and the membership, and election of faculty to fill all open positions of the Steering Committee.
For Treasurer: Sheldon D. Pollack
Sheldon D. Pollack is Professor of Law in the Department of Accounting & MIS in the College of Business & Economics of the University of Delaware, where he has taught since 1994, and is the Director of the UD Legal Studies Program. Pollack was admitted to the Pennsylvania bar in 1986. He has served on the union’s Steering Committee, the Grievance Committee, the Collective Bargaining Negotiating team, and is presently the Treasurer of the chapter. He also serves on the Audit Committee of the National AAUP.
For Vice President: Danilo Yanich
Danilo Yanich is Associate Professor in the School of Urban Affairs & Public Policy and the Center for Community Research & Service. He is also the director of the Local Television News Media Project. His research interests are (1) media, public policy and democracy and (2) criminal justice policy. A two-time Presidential Fellow at the Salzburg Seminar, he examined media and public policy issues across various political and media systems.
He has published articles examining local television news coverage of urban and suburban crime, juvenile and adult crime and the death penalty. In addition, he has developed a website at: www.localtvnews.org that contains over 10,600 digitized local television news stories that are searchable and viewable in their entirety. It is the only web site of its kind and it has been recognized by the Library of Congress and added to the Moving Images Collection.
He also serves on the University’s Institutional Review Board and is chair of the Human Subjects Review Committee for the School of Urban Affairs and Public Policy. He currently serves as the Vice President of the chapter and he served as an at-large member of the Executive Council.
For Secretary: Kevin Kerrane
Kevin Kerrane, Professor of English, teaches and publishes in the areas of journalism, drama, and Irish literature. He has led nine Study Abroad programs to England and Ireland, and was the founder of UD’s Sunday international film series. In Spring 2005 he served on the AAUP bargaining team that negotiated the current faculty contract. He has been filling in as Secretary since the retirement of the previous Secretary, Judy Van Name, in May, 2005.