American Federation of Teachers New Jersey (AFTNJ) President Donna M. Chiera issued the following statement on Essex County College Adjunct Faculty Member Lisa Durden, who was unjustifiably terminated following an appearance on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News Channel show: “In a discussion with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, Essex County College Adjunct Faculty member Lisa Durden tried to point out aspects of white privilege. While we may not agree with every point Durden made, we firmly oppose this lack of due process that led to Durden’s termination.”
Lynne Peterson Cummins, Adjunct Professor of Psychology, President of the Essex County College Chapter of United Adjunct Faculty NJ, added, “Adjunct faculty are committed and qualified professionals who work in the fields they teach, as does Ms. Durden. The union strongly objects to the manner in which Ms. Durden was dismissed. It was abrupt, startling and confusing to the students involved.
Adjunct faculty teach the majority of classes at Essex County College and across the country and deserve the same rights as every other faculty member. Further, this shameful episode is a direct breach of our collective bargaining agreement – our most recent CBA with Essex County College makes clear that free speech and academic freedom must be respected, ‘…Retention of all adjunct faculty members’ rights as a citizen to free speech and publication. Such rights are not, as such, subject to institutional censorship or discipline…the adjunct faculty member is not an institutional spokesperson.’
John Smith, Adjunct Criminal Justice Professor, Vice President, Essex County College Chapter of United Adjunct Faculty New Jersey, said, “Although Durden had not been employed long enough to be formally eligible to join our union, we sought answers to determine why she was terminated and did not get a reason. Unless there were reasons they did not disclose, Durden’s termination was excessive and caused a disruption to the students in the classes she was actively teaching.”
The American Federation of Teachers is the largest union of higher education professionals in New Jersey. Learn more about AFTNJ at www.aftnj.org