Peer Pressure

I feel the Pulse of the Populace, I can feel it!

This is just like ASR….

As is usual, there continues to be considerable whining about the peer review process. I can relate. Sort of. But, the idea that there is another alternative is total bullshit. AND, the whining is just that, whining. Whining babies whining about their privilege being momentarily abrogated by people who think that maybe their shit does indeed stink. It’s especially discouraging that whining is coming from overprivileged full professors at major research universities who can’t seem to be bothered to revise manuscripts because they believe that their shit don’t stink.

Peer review is not broken. It works. It’s not perfect, but nothing is, duh…. We all may experience negative appraisals, and even unjust appraisals, but that is far better than a system which only publishes shit from the anointed ones.  Indeed, the bullshit open access online shit is just that, a venue for the anointed to act as if they published something peer-reviewed without all of that nasty peer review process.  If you are not one of the cool kids, they won’t accept your paper. Yeah, that’s better than peer review….if you are a full professor at a major PhD granting program who is in favor with the gatekeepers of those online bullshit journals.

Let me just tell you a thing or two, having published a dozen or four or more in real peer-reviewed journals. First, while we all should bitch about our negative reviews, acting like they are the problem is not productive. Once I get the piss out of my eyes, I try to approach all of my R and R’s from the perspective that the reviewers are always right. That’s not just to kiss ass. That’s because maybe I’m wrong and they’re right. I may not agree with criticisms, but it is essential that critiques are taken seriously and addressed in subsequent versions. Not doing so is really arrogant, counterproductive, and stagnates your scholarship. When people tell you repeatedly that your framing of a paper is misguided, you really should listen, particularly when this happens six or eight times at different journals and from people with different theoretical and methodological orientations. It’s really cheap these days to send a paper to another journal without doing shit to it, but if you really think you are Mark Granovetter and this is 1971 you are deluded.

I will now return to taking seriously the many criticisms of the two R and R’s I have on my plate….I suggest that you do the same, because it will make your scholarship better.

Can we have some gun troll now, pretty please?

Support for Gun Control and Cun Ownership Trend: 1972-2014 GSS

Support for Gun Control and Cun Ownership Trend: 1972-2014 GSS

Ah, another day, another mass killing in the US. Typical. Another psychotic white male who has a long history of psychotic disorders, but yet was able to acquire multiple high powered, concealable weapons and shitons of ammo. It seems that at least 10 are now dead, with another 20 wounded.

We are told by Gallup, who is bought and paid for by the NRA, that there is no hope that there will be any gun control. We are told by these public opinion manipulators, who enjoy unlimited access to our “media” that Americans love guns, and that all Americans own guns, and that no Americans want to control access to guns. Bullshit.

Gun ownership in America is at a historic low, and it is going down. Only 30% of households own guns, and within those households, 25% do not own guns (those are the women and children who will be murdered by their gun nut relative). So, maybe a quarter of Americans own guns. It is clear that that unhinged minority is now out purchasing more guns and ammo to prepare for the race war, or whatever.

And, the guns are now mostly for killing people, at least the ones that are the big sellers for the gun nuts. When I was a kid and hunted and was a gun nut, there were very few semi-automatic weapons, and the maximum capacity for a semi-auto handgun was 7 unless you got a very expensive exotic. Now, I can go to the redneck wal-mart gun store and buy a semi-auto handgun that doesn’t even have a safety mechanism and has a 13 shot clip….14 if you load an extra…because why not, eh? And, let’s not even get me started on the true military hardware that we can now buy for under a grand at any Wal Mart. That shit would have cost more than twice as much in 1980 dollars in 1980, if you could even get it, and they would have done a background check in most states.

Fuck Gallup. Fuck the NRA. It’s time for the majority of Americans to have their voices heard and to have some real gun control.



Going off the rails.



I remember meeting my old dorm mate Sanders the first day I moved into the dorms at Oklahoma. He probably followed the smell of weed. I wound up rooming with a series of frat boys who peed in their trashcans, and Sandy was roomed with a transgendered guy who disappeared after the first week….We were roommates by week four in Oliver House, an unairconditioned party dorm closest to the main campus.

We spent the year sitting around in our dorm room drinking cheap whiskey, smoking weed, listening to music and studying. Tom Thiel and Danny Bartfeld would come up and we’d party, and Teresa and some of her friends might come over. We were the party kids on a budget. We didn’t go out. We couldn’t afford it. I worked in Tulsa on the weekends and brought “home” my tips and shit. We’d figure out how much beer, whiskey, and weed we could afford, and maybe a couple of pizzas or a concert or some acid.

Sanders had done it all and was a good bit older than my 17 years. He’d worked in construction and oil rigging, attended a shit school in Chickenshit OK where he lived in the dorms with some really interesting characters. He is from Sapulpa, which is where most of my family is from on my mom’s side. We had a great year. But I had to move on. I was engaged, my fiance was in Tulsa in a nursing program, and OU wasn’t the place for me. Sanders was in my wedding, I keep looking for pictures but I can’t find one, but I only saw him a few times after that. He moved to Florida with Teresa, but it didn’t end well, and I heard from Tom that Sandy wound up in prison for a bit in Florida on a coke charge.

Tom died of cancer in the early 1990s while in med school at Wisconsin after an MA in Physics at Davis. I used to sometimes get together in Tulsa with Tom’s brother Dan who is a physicist at Cornell, but he was my last connection with Sandy after he’d split with Teresa. Last time I saw evidence of Sandy was in a blues bar in Tulsa in the mid 1990s, where he had scrawled his name on the ceiling. I always hoped I’d run into him and we could hang out. Teresa disabused me of that hope. Drugs are bad. Sandy got in way too deep. Apparently he was living in Texas and had an altercation with his 20 year old son in 2012, and wound up killing his own kid. He’s serving a long sentence in Huntsville.

It’s strange how things can get off track. Sanders was doing a major in theater tech and set design. He had a shit-ton of experience with bands and plays, and I figured he’d be head roadie for major touring acts. But, that didn’t happen. I don’t know what did. I keep thinking I need to make a trip to Huntsville, but I don’t know what I’ll find. The Sanders I know is the coolest guy in the world, fun, smart, easygoing….but I guess sometimes things go off the rails. We saw Ozzy together in 1983….

There is only one track, and that is as it should be.

Douglas Lee Eckberg

Douglas Lee Eckberg

Jessica has a nice post over at Scatter expressing some wisdom and concern about the perennial red herring of a teaching track versus a research track in academe. I totally agree. It is really unfortunate that students often develop networks where they fantasize about something other than the grind of a research focused job geared towards tenure. As if that is something horrible. If that is your idea of hell, quit. I’ve been a full professor for over a decade and I frequently wake up in the middle of the night with an idea about research. Teaching is not easy, and teaching four or five courses a semester must be ungodly. And people who do that do it for way less than half of what I make. Money matters just a tad, not too much, or I’d be a retired lawyer now, but there is a big difference between what you make at a 4-4 fake liberal arts college or minor state university versus what you pull down at an honest to gods research school or serious liberal arts college.

But, the difference is really in the margins. And I fear that many students just don’t get the point. What about some nice 3-3 state university? Why should they have to learn all of that nasty research methods and theory and publish stuff once in a while in order to get a job at Southwestern State? Because you don’t deserve it, you entitled pricks.

Jessica and I have something in common. His picture is up there. Dougie. Douglas Lee Eckberg, author of a Intelligence and Race: Origins and Dimensions of the IQ Controversy on UT press, articles in ASR, Social Forces, Ann Rev. Soc, SSQ, JSSR….He was one of my key undergraduate mentors, and Jessica’s as well, I believe. I had Dougie for several classes at Tulsa, which is a liberal arts university with small classes and strong students. Doug couldn’t have done his job at all if he didn’t do research at Tulsa, because a substantial fraction of us went on to graduate school in the social sciences. Dougie got fucked. Despite having a record that would be tenurable at any top university, he was denied tenure at Tulsa and moved to Winthrop—a small commuterish college on the South Carolina side of the Charlotte fringe. There, he taught a bit more (but his research record gave him courses off), and did a lot of administrating. But, because he was the legitimate article, when students looking to go to the next level were in his courses or plopped themselves in his office, he KNEW what to do. Because he had done the research, and understood the research, and understands the discipline.

Our system of education must amplify the potential for students at lower tier universities. If second and third and fourth tier schools do not have faculty who at least understand the cutting edge of the discipline, then all of the students are cut out of the potential to contribute to scholarship. Talented people will be lost. Jessica could have instead been living in a trailer park in South Carolina….

There is no shame in not being at the top tier. There is no reduction in the work load, either. Nor should there be. The work is different, sometimes, and you certainly can’t crank out the research the way you can teaching 1-1 at a real university, but it still matters. If you want more “balance” than that, maybe you should take Ken Land’s old advice “the Post Office is always hiring.” Only, I guess now it’s Wal Mart….

On Theory….Tony Style


Theory is a bitch.  A little bit of theory goes a long way, as Reinhard Bendix aptly put it. I used to be more enamored with theoretical advance and synthesis than I now am. Theory, however is essential…but sometimes setting the controls for the heart of the sun only burns you out…..

As my old mentor Tony Oberschall put it in 1973(ix): “A theory in the usual sense is made up of hypotheses that can be empirically confirmed or disconfirmed, that are systematically linked in order to provide explanations for a large body of observations bearing on the same topic and that can be used to predict future events. Single hypotheses that repeatedly have been confirmed are best thought of as empirical generalizations. Conceptual schemes, typological elaborations, semantic analyses of concepts and terminological controversies cannot be empirically verified and are not theories, rather they are approaches to a topic preparatory to the formulation of a theory. Sociology has reached the stage where these preparatory activities no longer hold center stage, as they have for so long.”

I have an empirical generalization about who would like this statement and who would object, and a theory about the disciplinary implications of rejecting positive theory versus wallowing in the muck of constant recreation…..

Yes, Sara Goldrick-Rab is Irresponsible and Unprofessional–and it’s none of the UW Faculty Senate’s Business….

You should have gone to Penn!

You should have gone to Penn!

In our ongoing saga of academics being called out about twats on the internets we have Sara Goldrick-Rab as the latest victim. Of course, unlike the poor person fired at LSU for doing her job using adult language, I find a few of Goldrick-Rab’s actions to be truly irresponsible and unprofessional, particularly given that she styles herself an expert on educational policy. I’ve never met her, but having perused her vita I really think she should feel exceptionally lucky to be a full professor (promoted after only 9 years with a PhD based on a handful of articles in mostly minor journals and a coauthored book–with Jerry Jacobs….who is known for being quite generous to his students) at what is still the best public university in the nation.

I don’t give a fuck about calling Scott Walker Hitler or any other pithy political statement, party on.  But I hear tell that she implored a bunch of ecstatic future Wisconsin Badgers to  go to school somewhere else. Because, of course, since now Wisconsin may actually see the kind of cuts the rest of the nation has been dealing with since 2000, 17 year olds and prospective faculty should look to go elsewhere. Jesus fuck a bunny in the ass! Do you really study educational policy?! Are you really an expert on helping the disadvantaged get degrees? Do you really think a cut in the most well-funded university system in the nation means that it is irrational for young Wisconsinites to go to Madison? Versus what? You think they can go to Penn? Northwestern? Chicago? Do you think it’s any better to take advantage of the tuition break to go to Illinois. Illinois  has a higher tuition….but gives Wisconsinites in-state tuition, but ILL is suffering the exact same cut imposed by Walker, and let’s face it, U of I sucks compared to Wisconsin.

Acting like the sky has already fallen because Wisconsin is about to get the kind of cuts most of the rest of us having been dealing with for over a decade is conduct unbecoming a serious researcher in the field of educational sociology or educational policy. For those of us struggling at truly disadvantaged universities, it’s downright insulting–particularly coming from someone who never attended a public university. I agree with Rebecca Blank (who is really nice, my spouse used to sometimes run with her at the AEA meetings). Wisconsin is still a great university and the people of Wisconsin should feel lucky to have it in their backyard. They should work to protect it, not to undermine it because of political hysteria. As for Goldrick-Rab, I’d be very surprised if “better” universities will be beating down her door to steal her away. Indeed, given the sorry state of public universities across the country, the only people poaching superstars from Wisconsin and elsewhere are going to be elite private universities, and most of the attrition has already taken place (which is why Duke is now number 1 in sociology).

Notably, it is Blank’s job to respond to shit like that in an informal way, the way she did. It is NOT the job of the muckity mucks in the Faculty Senate to act like official assholes and call her out. This isn’t about sanctions. This is about responding to a public issue. That’s the job of administrators (and gods know we have plenty of them…..), not of quasi-judicial bodies and other assorted kangaroo courts….

Unrelated events, related constituencies, and right wing mobilization: Same-Sex Marriage and the Confederate Flag



Well, well, well….The evil satanic sharia court has now held through a very slim majority that every American must be gay married, and that all churches must forcibly gay marry all of their parishioners underneath an upside down cross while swearing on a Koran. Ah, the celebration from Satanists, Sodomites, and Satanist Sodomites as Barak Hussain Obama’s dream of turning us from a nation of Jesus to a nation of Satan has now come to its full fruition. Praise Allah! What with gay marriage, we are practically a part of the Islamic State!

To add insult to injury and insult, the sodomite satanist race-mixers have cancelled the Dukes of Hazzard, in an attempt to break the spiritual will of good white Christians who yearn, desperately, not to be gay married, despite the siren song sung by the notorious Ruth Bader Ginsberg and her gay backup that Kennedy guy. In an unrelated event, an avowed Christian Terrorist who was an adherent of several organized white supremacist movements murdered (or accidentally killed?) 9 African Americans in a church. The response to this has been interesting! And of course, the Confederate Christians have resumed burning African American Churches, because, duh!Given that most white people aren’t Confederate racists (just regular racists, you know….), the image of the Christian terrorist guy with Confederate Battle flags prompted elite whites to say, “Hey, Bubba, get rid of that, you’re embarrassing me!” Because, of course, if we just got rid of the bubbas with Confederate Flags, racism would be completely over.

But, Jesus Fuck, shitcanning the Dukes of Hazzard is just going too far! What are white racist rednecks going to do?! They have the whole series on VHS, fortunately. And, NASCAR thought they could ban the flag (you know, the main flag that flies over NASCAR races…and it ain’t the American flag….). And, of course, the evil Muslim usurper Obama joined in with whatever that Governor Hayley woman is (Sikh…she’s a Sikh….) to call for the removal of the flag of white Christian Southern Patriotism, and even to demand that the flag be painted over on the top of the General Lee. I like President Carter’s take on the state of the South and the Confederacy.

Gays get to marry, and white Christian patriots have to hide their flag, under penalty of being fired from their good, whites-only, government socialist jobs. Jesus must be coming soon, but in case he isn’t, the faithful have vowed to refuse to serve people who are an abomination to their gods. Why should good Christians be forced to serve homosexuals and Negroes against the dictates of their severely held beliefs? Why, it’s a violation of the First Amendment, whatever that is! Religious freedom demands that we allow people to offend and discriminate! Rebel Yell Anyone!

Lest anyone think that any of this is going away soon, let us come to the realization that white Christians in the Union are now adopting the Confederate Battle Flag as a symbol of their oppression, because we know that White Christians are the most oppressed group in all of America. And, this gay marriage thing makes all of the American government illegitimate, in a white Christian Patriot kind of way.

So, the majority opinion of the Supreme Court, and the majority opinion of their fellow Americans, must be opposed by white Christian patriots. But, let’s not marginalize this group….because this is the large and pissed off base of a heavily armed and potentially violent movement. The Confederate angle is particularly shocking, since we have people defending a symbol embraced by a lethally successful terrorist, and let’s not forget the legions of other Christian terrorists terrorizing real America. Large pluralities of sectarian Protestants, fundamentalist Christians, and Republicans not only remain opposed to same sex marriage, but report that they are “very opposed” to what just took place.

Opposition to Same Sex Marriage: 2014 General Social Survey

Opposition to Same Sex Marriage: 2014 General Social Survey

The festering of religious and racist hatred should not be undersold. Most fundamentalists and sectarians are disconnected from other Americans and only associate with coreligionists, and their consolidation of social ties is made easier and more pure by geographic concentrations, both regionally and in rural, suburban, and exurban enclaves–Like Dalton Georgia, where an impromptu (and police supported) reactionary Confederate Flag parade had a little oopsie. Most people in those communities, the vast majority, are opposed to same sex marriage, and you can bet the General Lee that they don’t like black people or Messicans or Arabs or none of them other unamericans…..

Tenured LSU Professor Fired for Cursing

Fired for saying fuck, and shit.

Fired for saying fuck, and shit.

I hate to be the buzzkill after all of the celebrations of marriage equality and people being able to keep their insurance, but the war on education just got hot and heavy, and the anti-intellectual corporatists are winning big. Down in Bubba Jindal’s Louisiana, a tenured associate professor who has worked at LSU for 20 years has been fired for allegedly cursing and supposedly saying something about a student’s adhd.  So far, there is minimal information about this case. Inside Higher Ed has said nothing, and only a short take at the Chronicle spells out the future for the rest of us.

Teresa Buchanan, Associate Professor of Curriculum and Instruction was in charge of assigning legions of mostly female students to schools for student teaching. A multiple award winning professor who was recommended for promotion to Full before this “complaint”,  Dr. Buchanan is not one to mince words, indeed the Chronicle describes her as “salty” as if that is funny. They are reporting on the most devastating case since Salaita, and they’re joking about a tenured professor being fired for profanity. Buchanan admits that she was in the middle of a divorce and may have said some things about men that the young sorority girls didn’t like. And, she allegedly implored them to make sure they used condoms so they didn’t ruin their lives. Given that most of them had abstinence education in Louisiana, I’m not so sure this is out of line at all. Curriculum and Instruction is a professional program, and you’ll hurt your professional development with an unwanted pregnancy. Allegations that she had said something about a student having ADHD were found to be unsubstantiated by the faculty panel, which unanimously rejected a ruling of termination put forward by the loser ass second generation corporatist president of LSU, FuKing Alexander.

So, a tenured heterosexual female professor supposedly “sexually harassed” students by, what, saying fuck a lot? Telling them not to get pregnant once in a while? Is that harassment? Was she calling all of them every night to ask if they had condoms in their purse? NO. She said something once. And, she maybe whined about her divorce–as people often do. And for this, she was fired from a tenured job at a supposed research university.

There is a much better article in the Advocate about this. Basically, the faculty committee criticized the vague sexual harassment policy, and the chair of the LSU Faculty senate said that Buchanan’s cursing could not in any way be construed as  sexual harassment. They also pointed out that any complaint against Buchanan (no student testified….) should have simply been handled at the department chair level ‘ Hey Teresa, knock off the dick jokes, you’re scaring the children…”  That the Chronicle makes a joke of it and Inside Higher Ed didn’t even bother to cover it reflects their ownership by corporate education, who are just fine with having Human Resource Deanlets policing the faculty.

This is our future. Boards of assholes appointed by politicians flanked by corporatist administrators and legions of deanlings and deanlets will be monitoring what we say and firing us for saying fuck.  Nobody will say anything about it. The “academic press” will ignore it. Every week this will happen with greater frequency, until we all accept that we cannot usurp the authority of our corporate overlords. We’ll have speech codes, conduct codes, dress codes, and content codes for our courses—syllabi and textbooks will be provided by Pearsons and Wiley and Elsevier…….Deviation will not be tolerated, it’s in the code.

How We Lost the War on Tenure

I feel the Pulse of the Populace, I can feel it!

What do you mean it’s not real? It feels real!

Obviously, I’m a bit pessimistic about the future of higher education outside of the gated communities of elite private and elite privatized/public universities. But, why can’t we win? Why do I think we’ve lost? Won’t there be a pushback? My pessimism is rooted in the complete domination of the educational field by corporatist elites, the extension of this mentality to the vast majority of political leaders in both parties, and the acceptance of the corporate narrative by the vast majority of college-educated (and virtually everyone who doesn’t have an education).

I don’t hang out with academics much. I have a few academic friends, but most of my friends are regular people—lawyers, doctors, finance people, small business owners. Most of my friends share my passion for racing and riding bikes, and I race for a large, strong, Midwestern team with lots of older racers like myself. Many of my teammates are from Wisconsin and are Scott Walker supporters—one is a major donor. I try not to let politics intrude on my cycling friendships, but I have to say I am the last liberal on my team—and politics played a role in many people leaving the team. I meet a lot of people in the community through bike racing and training, and not just racers, regular folk who are outside and visiting So Ill. In the last two years I have had at least ten people, friends, teammates, acquaintances, and strangers gently or not so gently discuss the issue of tenure with me. My teammates all know that I’m a professor, so that may be natural. Others come to know what I do, and then raise the issue. This never happened 10 years go or even 5 years ago. Most people don’t know what tenure is, but they are absolutely certain that it is bad, and that I’m a bad and lazy person for having it or wanting it.

One of my Scott Walker supporting teammates (who is an extremely nice guy and has a college degree) asked me a few months ago if I have tenure. He’s known me for 14 years, so, obviously he doesn’t know much about tenure. He wanted to know what I do, and how long I work–which he identified with how many courses do I teach, and how many hours am I in the classroom? Well, six hours a week in the hole, right? Geez, I guess my lazy tenured ass needs to be in the classroom for at least 36 hours, so I should be teaching 12 and 12 instead of 2 and 2! I briefly tried to explain that even teaching requires much more effort than the simple classroom time—course prep, grading, meeting with students, staying current on materials, dealing with administrative bullshit….And, the more sophisticated the course, the more time it takes. I don’t do multiple guess tests unless I’m teaching large section courses, which I don’t often do. And, I mentioned that the main reason why I’m employed is research, not teaching. He did seem marginally impressed that I published two books last year, but I think he wanted to know if I was going to publish another one this year. And, it is pointless to begin to describe the myriad activities that take up most of my time (reviewing 6-8 articles a month, writing letters for promotion files, letters of recommendation, data coding, analyses, writing, faculty meetings, grad student defenses….). The average person doesn’t understand any of that.

My good friend Michael Humphries (a religious studies/english professor) and I had a much more negative interaction with a group of uneducated tourists. They really didn’t think much of teachers or professors, and thought they made a shit ton of money for doing nothing and spent summers on vacation. What those damned lazy liberals need is to be fired if anyone complains about something they don’t like. We finally lost it and told them that what they were saying was offensive and wrong. Do you really think people don’t try to do a good job? Do you think we’re that unprofessional? Seriously. In my 30 years in higher education I have only seen one case where a professor needed to be removed from the classroom. I have rarely had colleagues who were “dead wood” in research after tenure, and all of the “dead wood” did yeoman’s work in teaching and administration.  Even colleagues who did not make tenure because of research deficiencies  deserved employment (and again, the bar has been raised way too high since the good old days of the 1960s and 70s when a heartbeat and a PHD got you tenure).

It isn’t just Scott Walker, and the message that Raygun birthed in the 1960s has now come to dominate public discourse. College is about teaching. teaching is about satisfying the children and making sure they get jobs. If it doesn’t lead directly to a job, then it is useless and should be done away with. The barrier to making college lead to jobs is the recalcitrance of the tenured faculty, so if we get rid of tenure, we can reinvent college as a vocational school. Research? What’s that? Why do you need to do research? Humanities faculty sit around all summer reading books? How is that helpful for getting jobs for the proletariat? You study sociology? Why do we need people doing research on that? Indeed, why should anyone have to take that shit when it won’t get them a job. I’m telling you with absolute certainty that this is the dominant opinion in the United States, even among supposedly educated liberals. We’re fucked.

The War on Tenure

Once they get tenure, they do nothing....

Once they get tenure, they do nothing….

Twenty years ago I was awarded tenure at Vanderbilt University. The senior faculty put me up two years early because they didn’t want me to come up at the same time as Holly McCammon. Tenure meant nothing to me. I expected it. I deserved it. Having tenure changed nothing about my work habits, how much research I did, how I taught my courses, or treated my students.  But I don’t think about tenure the same way anymore, or, I guess I should say tenure means more to me now than it did in the rarefied air at an elite private university.

Like all bad things, the War on Tenure began with Ronny Raygun. The general war on education forever changed public universities. Cuts to direct funding, student aid, the development of a “student loan” racket, and the decline of publicly funded research squeezed the entire sector. Competition for scarce jobs led to a dramatic escalation of requirements for tenure—I know several people who were actually hired in as tenured professors straight out of grad school. One publication would suffice for tenure at any low-tier research university such as my current humble institution, and there was no research expectation at colleges requiring 3 or 4 course teaching loads. Now,  I’ve lost a lot of sleep worrying about junior colleagues coming up with six or eight publications—and even non-research institutions are now expecting to see publications and regular conference presentations (even though less and less money is available for conference travel).

The growth of obnoxious administration led to an increasingly intrusive culture of “accountability” whereby it is assumed that professors in general, and especially tenured professors, must not be doing their jobs. Student evaluations became increasingly important, even though real research shows that they are bogus. Professors were not only supposed to do more research, but also to be more available to students as advisors and to increasingly prioritize teaching and pleasing the children . Now we have assessment administrators asking us to prove that our students learned anything, as if our grades are meaningless.

Tenure became more directly relevant to me when my spouse did not make tenure at Vanderbilt. We spent a year on the job market searching for places that would hire us both. But, the new trend in administration was to make it nearly impossible to hire someone with tenure. I mean, what if you wind up being a psychopath, or if your research record doesn’t mesh with your classroom teaching? SIU didn’t want to hire me with tenure even though I’d had tenure at Vanderbilt for 6 years. In the end, after Herculean effort from my eventual chair Rob Benford the Dean and Provost relented and we moved to SIU.

But, now, we have a new war on tenure and the professors are losing. Post-tenure review has become commonplace at many institutions, even though most are “toothless” policies. Now, ALEC inspired laws are flooding state legislatures going for the jugular—ending tenure entirely. Giving administrators and boards the power to fire tenured professors at their whimsy. As the Salaita case showed very clearly, wealthy donors and political interest groups can now influence who is hired and who is fired—to the extent that you don’t even know if you have a valid contract. Our speech utterances are being monitored and punished for infractions of civility or content. Administrators are sitting in on our classes and judging what they think to be controversial materials to be a fire-able offense. Soon, we will see conduct codes that will further enable administrators and boards to fire us at will.

I’m 49 years old, and I expect that by the time I am 60 I will no longer have tenure. I may not even have a job. I’ll be forced into early retirement. I’m lucky. If I was 29, I’d be fucked. The AAUP just slammed the University of Illinois over their abridgement of academic freedom, tenure norms, due process, shared governance, and failure to rectify their wrong in the Salaita case. I just joined.


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