Tenure for the Common Good was founded on the premise that tenure-track faculty had more security than our contingent colleagues and could consequently play an important role, speaking out in ways that tenure made possible.
The economic carnage wrought on US academia by the COVID pandemic, has made it clear that now we are all, in some sense, contingent. And yet, although tenure-track faculty are now more vulnerable than ever to furloughs, retrenchments, and firing, there are still important differences between the status of those hired month-to-month or semester-to-semester, on the one hand, and those of us who retain relatively, if temporarily, secure positions. We remain committed to the principle of using tenure to work toward the good of all.
In this moment of shared threat, we want to make three statements:
- Attacks on higher education implicate all of us. We all stand together, or we all fall. Tenure-track faculty must not stand by idly as contingent faculty fall to the budget axe. If we allow administrators to see us as disposable – any of us – all of us will be disposed of.
- The problem of university budget crises will not be solved by cutting adjunct faculty, the worst-paid and most precarious of our faculty. Sacrifices should be shared, and they should be progressive. Universities must work from the top downwards, first cutting the salaries of the best-paid employees, including administrators — and reducing the salaries of others in proportion to their income.
- The key to repairing higher education is to invest in the workers whose labor sustains the institution and the students who come to learn from them. Casualizing the profession by emphasizing at-will short-term hiring threatens our institutions. An academia worth saving respects and sustains the people who fulfill its primary functions: learning, teaching, and making knowledge.
Tenure for the Common Good stands against any cost-cutting effort that eviscerates the people who work and maintain academia. And we call on all of our colleagues to join together to combat such attempts.