Rozman Affair

On May 4 and 5, 1970, there was a sit-in at the Military and Naval Science Building in response to the Kent State killings that had taken place mid-day May 4, 1970. The sit-in was a peaceful affair, though the administration and faculty became agitated when the students continuously refused to move. In accordance with the plan they had laid out the year before, the administration sent a liaison committee to talk with the students and find out their feelings. On the fifth, there was a Faculty Senate meeting that the sit-in students went to, thereby vacating the Military and Naval Science Building. Most critics claimed the University had handled the situation very well particularly because no violence had taken place (ROTC Building Occupied).

However, in June, the board of regents asked Chancellor Varner to initiate an investigation into the events in May. They found that one of the faculty members, Stephen L. Rozman, an assistant professor of political science, had been one of the first sit-in members and had encouraged the students to continue the sit-in. For months Rozman’s case was debated until finally his contract with the University was not renewed (Rozman). This sparked campus wide protests and there were two sit-ins in Chancellor Varner’s office; during one of these sit-ins three students were arrested. Rozman eventually sued in federal court to try to get his job back. The failure to renew his contract was declared valid and the eigth court of appeals upheld the Regent's decision (Legal Action). Rozman vowed to fight on, but the whole situation eventually dissolved and nothing every came of his vow. 

The Union

A major effect of the Rozman Affair was the University of Nebraska-Lincoln faculty decided to join a union under the American Federation of Teachers or the AFL-CIO (Faculty Union).  An initial action to join the union took place and those who signed the petition were able to obtain a charter that would bring support from more teachers. Any union the faculty would have been legally able to begin the Board of Regents would then have to acknowledge. The faculty felt that after the Rozman incident there was need of a teachers union because it would protect the teachers’ right of freedom of speech which included academic freedom. There were also other reasons for wanting a union which included receiving money that would hopefully help the “academic standing” of students at the University plus providing legal services. One of the teachers involved, Professor George A. Rejda, claimed in an article in the Daily Nebraskan in February of 1971 that the faculty was not trying to organize a union for the purpose of being able to go on strike. About seventy-five of the teachers over ten different departments had, by that point, signed the petition for the charter.