Recently, there has been a flurry of articles in popular press arguing that the institution of tenure should be abolished. The authors of those articles made no secret of their desire to corporatize the university. Their main (or, actually, their only) argument for abolishing tenure was that since companies can fire people at will, so should colleges. Many academics dismissed these articles as meaningless rantings of some very stupid and anti-intellectual people. Well, stupid and anti-intellectual they might be, but apparently, many corporate-minded administrators across the country have gotten the message that time has come to rob academia of tenure. The University of Southern Mississippi is firing 14 tenured faculty members without any compunction or debate:
Twenty-nine faculty members, including 14 tenured full and associate professors, have been notified they will be terminated for the 2011-12 academic year. President Martha Saunders sent out a campus-wide e-mail Monday morning outlining the cuts that come "at a time of record enrollment and unparalleled successes within the university community."Her e-mail included a breakdown of all recommended budget reductions, including those absorbed by each college. The College of Arts and Letters took the most damage to the tune of $918,000 and 10 faculty members, while the College of Science and Technology incurred the least with $644,000 and three faculty members cut.The message is clear: technology good, arts and letters bad and useless. Who needs thinking, independent individuals in Southern Mississippi? Obviously, no one. At least, not any more. This so-called "university" will now produce nothing but compliant and terrified little robots who will be ready to bend themselves backwards to do the bidding of their corporate masters and never dare even question why they have to live and work in such inhuman conditions.
What is especially sad, although not surprising in the least, is that people at the University of Southern Mississippi have launched no noticeable campaign to save themselves and their colleagues from being fired. I have searched everywhere I could on the Internet, but there seems to be no trace of any struggle by these academics against these unfair firing policies. Our Canadian and British colleagues don't take this type of abuse lying down. Academics at Swansea University and University of Toronto are fighting hard to keep their programs from being destroyed. In the US, however, people are so accustomed to having no rights in the workplace that you can do pretty much anything to them and they will thank you obsequiously and pathetically for not spitting in their faces even more than you already do.