Tenure, like Power, Corrupts

[First published February 28, 2005] In my 3/17/09 blog “On Ward Churchill and Academic Leftmania,” I described the state of American universities, particularly the social sciences, humanities, and special studies or programs (woman’s studies, ethnic studies, etc.). In effect, they constitute anti-American, socialist, and leftist propaganda factories. I will refer to them all as leftsville.

The academic leftists have one and really only one argument for legislatures, regents, and other outsiders to leave them alone to spew their propaganda, and that is academic freedom. That is, the leftists argue, academics should be free to say unpopular things, to teach what they believe, and to research the unconventional. It is a powerful argument, and we all are for it in these terms. Thus, we have tenure, whose prime purpose is to protect this freedom by making it almost impossible to fire a professor for his beliefs.

But in application, this academic freedom has been destroyed from within. Simply, conservatives, Republicans, libertarians, devoted Christians, or the otherwise politically incorrect will not be hired; or by mischance if they are, they will not get tenure; or if they change their views after they get tenure, they will be not too gently encouraged to find other employment. Thus, we have academic departments with democrats/liberals/communists (called Marxists) outnumbering Republicans/libertarians/conservatives 30 or 40 to 1.

What this means is that students get only views on history, current events, and contentious issues, for within a narrow band of liberal-left-communist beliefs. They are not being educated, but propagandized. And what academic freedom has come to mean in practice is to protect leftsville from attempts to create a true diversity of beliefs, teaching, and research.

What to do?

First, is to inform. Universities depend on public funds, gifts and contributions, and tuition. The more legislators, the wealthy, and parents come to understand that they are paying for the country’s future leaders to be taught how good is the socialist-equalitarian model, including communism for some (you see, what happened in communist countries, with all the democide and other horrors, was “state capitalism,” not true Marxism), and how bad is the United States.

Second is to investigate. There should be outside (inside is almost hopeless) research into this Leftsville—what is being taught and how, the treatment of nonleftist students, favoritism toward leftist ones, and what happens to non-liberal and leftist faculty. Of course, leftsville will go to war against this and the drums of academic freedom will beat mercilessly on everyone’s ears. Stuff them with cotton, and investigate. I think the results will shock the public.

And third, discard tenure. It is the dirty bath water and not the baby. Tenure is precisely the reason leftsville has expanded to envelope the whole university. There are other reasons besides creating a diversity of beliefs to get rid of this protection of leftsville, and that is tenure also protects the deadwood and stupid among them. There is little opportunity for the young, mentally vigorous, and promising scholars to move into this world now made up so many old professors with their yellowing lecture notes, and two or three articles in some left wing magazine or journal.

In the place of tenure, I suggest a five-year contract, renewable every five years. The renewal should be based on a department’s recommendations, evaluation of peers at other universities, and student evaluations. And, I suggest that the university committee making the final decision has administration, faculty, student, and outside members (suggested by the regents or governing board).

This may seem impossible, given tenure’s grip on higher education and the mass of the naïve and innocents outside the universities that are taken in by the academic freedom battle flag. But, all universities have one vulnerability that can win this battle. Money. Hit their funding sources. Weigh in on federal and local tax money. Inform the wealthy of what their endowments are really supporting. Organize boycotts among parents against sending their children to the worse leftsvilles. Encourage business and federal agencies to hire graduating seniors from other universities, and so on. There are so many ways in a democracy like ours to persuade universities that perhaps it is time to rethink tenure, that all it really takes is information, communication, and will.


Link of Note

”Lifetime Tenure in Academia and Government “ (2/18/05) By Gary Aldrich

“. . . in a recent meeting with several hundred students at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, I made the allegation that too many tenured professors proudly declare themselves “Communists” while pushing hard-left agendas on students. They’ve made it clear that conservative and Christian views are unwelcome in their classrooms.

“I said that students were being blackmailed into silence by professors who hold grade point averages over their heads as punishment for expressing conflicting ideologies.

“I also stated that our students are being brainwashed, while parents are being forced to pay large sums of money for the privilege of watching professors play with their children’s young minds.

“Two professors who had infiltrated the meeting rose in protest. Red-faced, they declared me to be a liar and demanded that I prove my ‘outrageous” allegations.’ A young lady in the front row of the packed auditorium bravely raised her hand.

“First timidly, then with increasing firmness, she spoke of several of her Lehigh professors who had expressed hatred for American values and fondness for the likes of Fidel Castro. Following her lead, other students rose to give similar testimony. The angry and now ‘outed’ professors quickly made their exit.”

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