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AEJMC Update: I’m Not Dead Yet

Monty Python and the Holy Grail DVD coverAs seems to almost always be the case, no one intends to step away from a blog for five months … it just happens.

As many of my friends and colleagues from the past two decades converge upon Chicago this week for the annual meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, it seemed a good time to provide an update more broadly to the many questions I’ve fielded privately.

By the time the conference comes to a close on Saturday, my wrongful termination saga with the University of South Florida will have nearly completed 18 months.

Injustice, then, is now a toddler.

Progress Slow, Costly

If you ever find yourself entangled legally with a large organization—especially when none of the individual adversaries against you has a personal financial stake—expect glacial progress and voluminous expenses on your part.

As both parties are bound to the Collective Bargaining Agreement between USF and the USF chapter of the United Faculty of Florida, we have been held to a process.

Here’s What You Missed in 2 Minutes

I have filed three separate grievances outlining the illegality (and unconstitutionality) of USF’s termination of a tenured professor based upon different provisions of the CBA.

Hopefully you’re not surprised, but the people who did the terminating were not persuaded by these arguments and rejected them. In serial order, of course. One … at … a … time with typically 30 days waiting built in at every step. Time means money, and their attorneys are paid by the State of Florida.

Then—according to the rules—we had to ask USF to reconsider their rejection … twice.

So we basically say—to the exact same people who made the original flawed decision, “We know you’re pretty sure of yourself, but here are a few things you might want to consider.”

And they say, “no” … a month later.

Then we go slightly down the hall from the exact same people who made the original flawed decision, “We think your bosses made some mistakes. Here are a few things you might want to consider.”

And then he says, “no” … a month later.

Three grievances each with one original decision and two “appeals.” That’s where we stand. Nine individual steps. About to begin the next step.

Looking Ahead to What Must, Will Be Won

Legal fees already in the five figures and climbing. But this is a fight that cannot and will not be lost. For three reasons.

  1. I did not do the things that the Tampa Bay media and USF claimed that I did.
  2. USF’s decision—no matter how flawed in its internal logic—was based upon documentable lies by USF employee(s) trying to cover her/his/their hind ends.
  3. If allowed to stand, this termination would amount to the greatest single deterioration of tenure rights of which I am aware.

So no matter what it takes, prevail we shall.

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