A partial victory has been achieved in an academic freedom and tenure case involving the University of Augsburg, in the German state of Bavaria, according to Pat O'Neill, chair of CAUT's Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee.
Professor O'Neill said that Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade has agreed to tell academics in advance that they will be required to answer questions about their affiliation to a long list of political and religious organizations before they can take up visiting professorships at the University of Augsburg. Professor O'Neill said his committee has suggested that the Canadian government go further, and warn academics about all such situations. Apparently by Bavarian state law, all universities are required to ask these questions of visiting academics.
Professor Marchak, a professor at the University of British Columbia, was set to commence a teaching stint as a visiting professor at the University of Augsburg when the university's administration instructed her to sign a declaration stating that she was not a member of 47 proscribed political and religious organizations. Believing the demand to be a gross violation of academic freedom, professor Marchak refused to sign and returned to Canada.
Upon her return, she brought the matter to the attention of CAUT's Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee. In addition to her obvious concern about the very existence of such a declaration, professor Marchak was also disturbed that she had not been warned of the requirement prior to her arrival in Germany.
Professor Marchak and the academic freedom and tenure committee raised this issue of prior notice with Brian Long, the director of the international academic relations division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (the funding source to the visiting professorship program). In a written response to the committee, Mr. Long indicated that the division had been previously unaware of the requirement to sign the declaration and that it regretted the difficulty that professor Marchak encountered. Mr. Long further indicated that the division's concerns in the matter had been communicated to the University of Augsburg and, should the university be unable to modify its policy, the division would insist that the university inform candidates of the requirement to sign the declaration early in the selection process.
Professor O'Neill observed "The requirement to sign the declaration is still in place, but at least Canadian scholars will now know about the dangerous practices at this university. They should also be warned that the same situation applies to other universities in Bavaria." Professor O'Neill was pleased that professor Marchak and the academic freedom and tenure committee had placed the spotlight on a situation that was reminiscent of the McCarthy era.
This update was provided by Paul Jones of CAUT. The Bulletin, April 1998 outlined the story of professor Marchak and her encounter with the administrators at the University of Augsburg.