So what can we, the academics, do to prevent the institution of tenure from being destroyed completely in this country? I believe that unless we make a concerted effort to oppose these practices, we can say good-bye both to tenure and to the integrity of the higher education system. The university as a bastion of knowledge, learning and cultivation of intellect will disappear. Instead, we will have glorified trade schools that will produce nothing but brainwashed, illiterate robots.
This is why I am convinced that we need to act and we need to do it now. I propose that every academic in this country and abroad should engage in a boycott of those schools that participate in the assault on tenure. We should refuse to collaborate with anybody who has the misfortune of working for Southern Mississippi or SUNY Albany. We should refuse to listen to their conference papers, we should refuse to admit them into the conference sessions we organize, we should avoid submitting our own papers to conferences they organize. We should refuse to collaborate with them in any way. We should refuse to review their articles for publication. We should speak out against these universities whenever we get a chance.
People will say that this will only serve to punish innocent scholars who happen to work at these institutions and who are not responsible for the actions of their administrators. Such objections are doubly wrong. First, a sustained and active boycott of Southern Mississippi and SUNY Albany will result in an immediate loss of prestige by these schools. The administrators who thought they were working for a respectable university will find themselves managing a backwater school that is ridiculed and despised by everybody in the academic community. Let's see how much they like hearing people scoff in their faces every time they mention their place of employment. Let's see how much they like seeing prospective students avoid applying to their schools unless every other option is exhausted.
As for the so-called innocent faculty members of these schools who will suffer as a result of a wide-spread boycott of their institutions, how innocent can they be if they have heard these horrible news about their own colleagues being deprived of employment and they still have come to work today? If they are in the classroom right now, instead of staging a protest in front of the administrators' offices? If they are tacitly collaborating with the administrators who are throwing their colleagues out on their asses? If they haven't even made a collective statement of protest against this atrocity? The kind of boycott I propose will serve their interests in the long term because - as much as they want to believe otherwise - this process will not stop at the professors of the "useless" foreign languages. We will all live to see a complete destruction of the institution of tenure.
I want to remind my colleagues everywhere of the following quote from pastor Martin Niemöller they must have heard a thousand times but don't seem to have taken to heart:
When the Nazis came for the communists, I remained silent; I was not a communist. When they locked up the social democrats, I remained silent; I was not a social democrat. When they came for the trade unionists, I did not speak out; I was not a trade unionist. When they came for the Jews, I remained silent; I wasn't a Jew. When they came for me, there was no one left to speak out.If we don't speak out today, it will be too late tomorrow.