You are here: American University Provost Communications April 22, 2022

American University Office of the Provost

MemorandumApril 22, 2022

AU Community
Peter Starr, Provost and Chief Academic Officer
Monica C. Jackson, Deputy Provost and Dean of Faculty
AU Community Standards and Policies for Demonstrations

In the coming days, there are planned campus demonstrations organized by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 500, the union that represents adjunct faculty, graduate student employees, and staff in the Academic Affairs Division. These actions are related to the collective bargaining process that is underway with each of these bargaining units. In light of these developments, we wanted to remind the AU community of the University’s policies on class attendance and employee participation in protests. The University respects community members’ right to freedom of expression and dissent in accordance with University Policy.  We are equally committed to supporting a productive and welcoming learning and working environment as students, faculty, and staff complete the semester and conduct exams. 

Students seeking to participate in protest activity that occurs during scheduled class periods should consult with their faculty members regarding course attendance requirements. AU’s Undergraduate Academic Rules and Regulations provide that “individual instructors may have different attendance requirements…” (see Section 4.1.1). If a faculty member excuses absences for participation in walkouts and other forms of protest, then the faculty member should excuse participation in any type of protest (i.e., not dependent on the nature of the issue being protested). Students may not be penalized for excused absences but are required to make up all work missed as a result of the excused absence by the end of the term. If the faculty member does not excuse the absence, the student may be penalized for the absence or for any missed work as a result of the absence. 

The University respects the right of employees to organize to form a union and to engage in related protected activity in accordance with applicable law. Faculty members may participate in protests in a personal capacity and on their personal time, provided that this activity does not occur during a time when they are scheduled to teach or perform other instructional duties, such as conducting office hours. Staff should follow the university policy for requesting annual leave for time spent participating in protest activity that occurs during business hours. Annual leave may be approved by the employee’s supervisor provided that there is sufficient advance notice, the requested leave would not interfere with specific work needs for the unit, and the requesting staff member has sufficient accrued leave to cover the time away. 

The University has been bargaining in good faith and is committed to continue to do so and to reach mutually beneficial agreements with all represented employees in bargaining units.

We wish you the best for an excellent remainder of the spring semester.