February 25, 2019
For Immediate Release
Indiana AAUP Chapters Help Restore Student Rights at Purdue University Global
West Lafayette, IN -- Indiana chapters of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) won a major victory for students and faculty in Indiana by forcing the online public university, Purdue University Global (PUG), to withdraw a mandatory arbitration clause that stripped students of legal rights.
PUG announced the shift in policy after the Indiana AAUP Conference brought to light the problematic policies in a letter to the Higher Learning Commission, and eight Indiana AAUP chapters and several Indiana university senates passed resolutions demanding that mandatory arbitration be rescinded. This victory arrives on the heels of another recent win in fall 2018 when PUG agreed to end the use of faculty non-disclosure agreements as a condition of employment after mounting public pressure from the Indiana AAUP.
The mandatory arbitration clauses forfeited certain student rights to sue PUG, including being part of a class action lawsuit, or having the right to a jury trial. The clauses had been retained in student agreements as holdovers from the for-profit Kaplan University, which Purdue purchased in 2017.
Despite conceding to pressure on the mandatory arbitration policy, PUG has been vague about ensuring that students are aware of the withdrawal of mandatory arbitration. In response, Indiana AAUP and AAUP-Purdue have asked the Purdue University Senate and the Senate Select Committee on Global Entity to assure that students are notified of the change and that their rights are being protected.
The victories by Indiana AAUP chapters over Purdue Global are important steps in faculty efforts against the privatization of higher education which has threatened to erode student rights and faculty control over teaching content.
“The retraction of mandatory arbitration vindicates AAUP’s campaign to protect student rights and to increase transparency in the operations of Purdue Global” said Bill V. Mullen, Vice-President of the Purdue West Lafayette AAUP chapter. “This is a victory for faculty ability to protect the highest standards of education for any entity bearing the ‘Purdue’ name.”
Indiana AAUP and its local chapters will continue to act together as a watchdog for student and faculty rights.