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The Increasingly Authoritarian War on Tenure

February 24, 2022 / PSU-AAUP

The Chronicle of Higher Education 

by Jennifer Ruth

February 23, 2022

 

In 2015, I asked a history professor at a prominent university in Shanghai what happens if graduate students in China want to study the Cultural Revolution. They don’t get funding, he said flatly, and they won’t get a job. Clear and simple. In the United States, politicians have to work a little harder when they want to control what professors research and teach. Unlike in the People’s Republic of China, politicians in the United States have to loop their efforts through invocations of “the people.” We saw this in action on Friday when Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick of Texas held a news conference. He promised to end tenure because he was enraged that the Faculty Council of the University of Texas at Austin had passed a resolution a few days earlier defending faculty members’ academic freedom to teach gender justice and critical race theory.

It’s easy to rally people behind you when you feed them propaganda.

UT-Austin’s resolution is one of over 20 that have passed at institutions across the country in response to the laws and pending bills censoring what and how we teach in the classroom. Seven of these were passed by public flagships. Many of these resolutions, including the one passed in Texas, are drawn from a template provided by the African American Policy Forum while others, such as the one passed at the University of Alabama, were drafted from scratch. The resolutions affirm the long-established prerogative of faculty, as the experts in their fields, to determine curriculum. “We must collectively demonstrate that the faculty are organized on our own campuses across the country to fight back,” the UCLA law professors Kimberlé Crenshaw and Devon Carbado and three others wrote in an open letter encouraging faculty to bring resolutions to their senate floors.

Read the full Opinion at The Chronicle of Higher Ed

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