U Buffalo Faculty Wants School to Stop Supporting Business Groups That Endorse Conservative Causes

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Yesterday’s Chronicle includes an article Faculty Union Calls on U. at Buffalo to Cut Ties to Chambers of Commerce that mentions Feminist Law Professor Martha McCluskey.   Journalist Peter Schmidt writes:

Opening a new front in the conflict between college labor unions and conservative advocacy groups, the University at Buffalo’s faculty union has resolved to pressure the institution to sever its ties with state and local chambers of commerce.

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The University at Buffalo pays annual dues of $5,000 to the Business Council of New York State and of nearly $48,000 to the Buffalo Niagara Partnership. The university’s president, Satish K. Tripathi, is a member of the board of directors of the regional organization, while Nancy L. Zimpher, the chancellor of the State University of New York System, is a nonvoting member of the state chamber’s board of directors.

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In New York, Andrew J. Rudnick, the president of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, boasted in an August 2010 e-mail to its members that his organization had acquired a reputation as one of the most politically aggressive regional-business organizations in the nation. In that November’s elections, the group endorsed candidates for State Senate as part of an effort to help Republicans wrest control of that body from Democrats.

The Business Council of New York similarly endorsed a slate of Republican candidates in the 2010 State Senate races. Last year it listed among its lobbying priorities limiting annual increases in state spending and hiring, as well as a long list of other fiscally conservative and business-oriented causes.

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Among those who advocated on behalf of the referendum, Martha T. McCluskey, a professor of law, argued in a statement that the measure promotes transparency and independence in the university’s political activities. The chambers of commerce, she added, “should not use public university resources or [the University at Buffalo’s] name and prestige to promote external private political interests.”

Read the full article here.

Professor McCluskey welcomes hearing from law faculty with expertise on any of the legal issues involved.  Her email is mcclusk@buffalo.edu

-Bridget Crawford

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