Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

Navigate Left
  • A shooting at The Republic NOLA in the Warehouse district left one dead and 11 injured.

    News

    Shooting at Republic NOLA leaves one dead, 11 injured

  • A shooting at The Republic NOLA in the Warehouse district left one dead and 11 injured.

    News

    Tulane announces new chief of police

  • Letter to the Editor | Support Tulane Workers United, help your professors

    Letter to the Editor

    Letter to the Editor | Support Tulane Workers United, help your professors

  • Head coach Lisa Stockton led the Tulane womens basketball program for 30 years.

    Basketball

    Tulane women’s basketball ushers in new era with coach Langford

  • The UConn Huskies win the 2024 National Championship after a dominant tournament run

    Basketball

    Uconn dominates NCAA tournament, earns “blue blood” status

  • Green Wave baseball looks to climb up the standings in the American Conference

    Baseball

    Green Wave baseball hopes to build off recent victory for conference improvement

  • Analyzing satire: Why Helldivers 2 succeeds where Warhammer 40k faltered

    Arcade

    Analyzing satire: Why Helldivers 2 succeeds where Warhammer 40k faltered

  • Tulanes Middle East and North African Studies introduces students to the rich history, layered politics, diverse cultures, linguistic, and religious traditions of the Middle East and North Africa, according to the Tulane website.

    News

    Open letter from staff accuses Tulane of anti-Palestinian bias

  • Cowboy Carter explores past music tradition while creating its own

    Arcade

    Cowboy Carter explores past music tradition while creating its own

  • Tulanes Green Wave Films assists with HBOs ‘The Welcome Table’

    Arcade

    Tulane’s Green Wave Films assists with HBO’s ‘The Welcome Table’

  • spring semester

    News

    Alumni, authors on COVID-19 failures and future pandemics

  • Ian Faul is the incoming editor-in-chief of the Tulane Hullabaloo.

    News

    Ian Faul elected next Hullabaloo Editor-in-Chief

  • Crawfest 2024 prevails in face of crawfish shortage

    Arcade

    Crawfest 2024 prevails in face of crawfish shortage

  • ‘Deeper Well’: Kacey Musgraves explores self-fulfillment, musical evolution

    Arcade

    ‘Deeper Well’: Kacey Musgraves explores self-fulfillment, musical evolution

  • Tulane’s URBANBuild students build ‘Tiny Homes,’ combatting homelessness

    News

    Tulane’s URBANBuild students build ‘Tiny Homes,’ combatting homelessness

Navigate Right
Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

flytedesk: Box (In-Story)
flytedesk (In-Story | Box)
flytedesk (Sidebar | Half Page)

OPINION | Tenure: The last defense of professors’ constitutional rights 

It has become popular in recent years to decry academic tenure for professors as an unnecessary systemic overprotection of certain employees.Nathan Rich

It has become popular in recent years to decry academic tenure for professors as an unnecessary systemic overprotection of certain employees. But people often have a misrepresented image of what tenure is. It is not the systemic enabling of complacency, but a vital barrier protecting freedom of speech and expression.

Tenure is “an indefinite appointment that can be terminated only for cause or under extraordinary circumstances such as financial exigency and program discontinuation,” according to the American Association of University Professors.

Why is this unique status necessary for professors? While tenure is not a perfect system, it provides shelter from administrative overreach or political retribution. It grants professors the ability to take an unpopular stance and teach their students freely. The job security that tenure provides ensures that if a professor is fired, it will not be for holding different views than the administration. 

Elisha Andrews, a late 19th century Brown University president, helped demonstrate the necessity of academic tenure. Andrews supported the use of silver coins as a way to lessen the impact of deflation on American consumers and farmers who were taking out increasingly larger loans.

The Brown University board commanded Andrews to stop his public campaigning because many board members were landowners and creditors — positions that profited from the very deflation Andrews fought against. When the university compelled Andrews to resign in 1897, teachers and students protested, arguing that his rights to free expression should be upheld.

Countless historical instances show a clash between universities and their faculties’ beliefs. 

The circumstances under which a university can fire a tenured professor vary between schools, but they generally agree that tenure does not protect hate speech and speech that incites violence. 

The requirements to achieve tenure vary not only by university, but often between departments within universities. Typically, an extended track record of good job performance, published research and support of peers places one in a strong position to achieve tenure. 

Why does tenure matter today? Recently, conservative politicians have expanded their book-banning expedition to target tenure. Louisiana legislators proposed anti-tenure legislation last year. Public backlash led to the withdrawal of the bill, but that was before current Gov. Jeff Landry was elected. It’s entirely possible this legislation could be revisited. 

The proposed legislation would have established a revocation procedure for tenure status of faculty members who do not fulfill review standards. It also mandated that all full and part-time instructors at public colleges, including those with tenure, submit to an annual performance review. 

Refusing to comply with the plan or failing to achieve significant progress, as defined by the state, would result in the elimination of tenure for tenured staff. Former Louisiana State Sen. Stewart Cathey summed up his opposition to tenure by stating that professors use it to “say whatever they want.” 

I should hope so. God forbid a professor says something I, or other classmates, disagree with. I shudder to think of the dialogue between opposing viewpoints that could produce. I might consider perspectives I hadn’t heard before. It could spawn critical thinking. We can’t have that; that sounds like an education. 

Critics commonly charge tenure with enabling complacency among those staff that receive tenured positions. This may be a valid complaint in some instances. But taken in account with the strengths of tenure, it becomes meaningless. 

It seems preferable to ensure universities unquestionably protect professors’ first amendment rights and ability to teach without fear, even if that means teachers assistants might be grading more papers.  

Leave a Comment

Donate to The Tulane Hullabaloo
$300
$1000
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of Tulane University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

Donate to The Tulane Hullabaloo
$300
$1000
Contributed
Our Goal