Statement of the State Board of the Nevada Faculty Alliance on SJR7*
To the Senate Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections
For the SJR7* Hearing on March 21, 2023
The Nevada Faculty Alliance (NFA) is affiliated with the American Association of University Professors, the premier national organization advocating for academic freedom, shared governance, and faculty rights in higher education.
The NFA is neutral on SJR7*, the constitutional amendment to remove the Board of Regents and its election from the Nevada Constitution. We have members on both sides, although recent history has swayed more of our members toward support.
We would like to provide some background information.
The NFA is very concerned about academic freedom and the potential for political and partisan interference in curriculum and academic standards. In the past two years especially, academic freedom has been under unprecedented attack by state legislatures and governors around the country.
Question 1, narrowly defeated in 2020, had a clause regarding academic freedom, but as written it would actually have endangered academic freedom. SJR7* is silent on academic freedom. In the 2021 legislative session, we offered an amendment to protect academic freedom, but it gained no traction. The constitutional independence of a governing board provides some protection for academic freedom; however, today we see both elected and appointed boards becoming politicized and they do not necessarily protect the principles we value.
We all have a vital interest in having a fully functioning Board of Regents serving students and Nevada. The Nevada System of Higher Education more often asserts its constitutional authority over personnel issues and its own power structure than in defense of academic freedom or educational policy. Our hope is that we can protect our principles in the future through collective bargaining agreements and contract law.
We are neutral but we reserve the right to change to support as we hear more from our members. We remain willing to work with you to add true protection of academic freedom to the constitution.
The Nevada Faculty Alliance is the independent statewide association of professional employees of the colleges and universities of the Nevada System of Higher Education. The NFA is affiliated with the American Association of University Professors, which advocates for academic freedom, shared governance, and faculty rights, and the American Federation of Teachers/AFL-CIO, representing over 300,000 higher education professionals nationwide. The NFA works to empower our members to be wholly engaged in our mission to help students succeed.
Contact: Kent Ervin, NFA State President, firstname.lastname@example.org, 775-453-6837