Posts Tagged ‘siuc’

Question: Randy, can you explain why the concept of tenure is so important to teachers in universities? I understand somewhat its origins in the 60s and 70s and the desire of teachers to speak freely, but what makes teachers different than other professions?

Answer: Tenure is much older than the 60s or 70s. It goes back to the teens. The troubles began in the 1890s when college faculty members were routinely fired for advocating unpopular (often new, often true) ideas. There were a number of cases, such as Sheldon who was fired from Boston University for unpopular views on the Bible, and culminating in a series of cases in the teens. The American Association of University Professors formed to advocate the value to a free society of protections for persons who were likely to be generating ideas that were uncomfortable to those benefiting from the status quo. The institution of tenure was devised to protect academic freedom. It isn’t a perfect plan, far from it. But a free society requires some ways of safe-guarding the free flow of ideas among those who have earned the right through diligence, productivity, loyalty to their institutions and students, to enjoy some protection for speaking the truth as they see it. That protection now traditionally belongs to tenured university and college faculty members, among whom I am to be counted. Assuming I live a morally acceptable life beyond the academy, and that I perform my assigned duties, I can express my opinions within my discipline without fear of reprisal for their being controversial, or threatening to the beneficiaries of current received opinion, or even if those views are radically out of line with what is now regarded as knowledge. Knowing me as you do, it may not surprise you to learn that I say unpopular things that could get me fired if I were not protected, but I do not say them to stand out; I say what I honestly believe, and I expect to have those views tolerated and never censored. I have earned the right to this protection, and unlike most people, I earned it twice, at different institutions. I do not take my speech lightly, and I intent to do whatever is within my power to insure that people like me, who have earned this kind of protection, are still able to speak their minds without fear of petty or unjustified reprisal, in the future. As Sarah says above, if they can stifle me in Illinois, at a public institution, they can much more easily stifle people in benighted places like Oklahoma. (I speak from extensive first-hand knowledge.) Our struggle here will have implications all over the nation. Illinois has the best labor law in the country, from a worker’s point of view. If we can’t protect tenure, no one can. You asked.

Kristi Brownfield of GA United read a powerful statement in defense of free speech at SIUC at this morning’s open forum with the Board of Trustees. It concludes:

This administration seems more interested in power than people. Any policies that protect the established power of the status quo over the expressive power of a free people are policies that must be overturned. The students here recognize that. It was our voices inside the Student Center, outside of Anthony Hall and the Stone Center, throughout campus, on Facebook, and online — calling for accountability, fairness, and transparency. That is what we want from this university. That is not what we have been getting. We expect better and in the future we hope to work with the administration to ensure we get that better. Together we can heal this damage to create a better SIUC for today and tomorrow.

Read the full statement at GA United’s blog.

From a faculty member:

WBEZ, the NPR station in Chicago, ran a story today about Joe Paterno and Penn State. They have yet to run a story about SIU and the strike. So, I wrote this in response to them:

Hey, WBEZ, the last time I checked, Penn State was in Pennsylvania. Southern Illinois University is in Illinois and a majority the students at SIU are from Chicago. (How many Chicagoans are at Penn State?)

SIU had a week-long faculty strike, the first in the school’s history, and hundreds (some say thousands) of students, in three separate marches, on three different days, marched beside the striking faculty. What else happened? The university censored its Facebook page and then blocked anyone who wrote anything that challenged the Administration. Striking faculty were electronically shut out of their emails, and online sites that contained their course materials. And the administration fought furiously to undermine tenure and all that it means. But none of this is important, is it? Because it’s not about a football coach in another state. Shame on you, WBEZ. Here’s a site where you can begin your journey to southern part of the state. https://occupysiuc.wordpress.com/

The media should be reporting on the powerful actions by the students of SIUC. Let’s pressure them to do so.

While waiting for the official announcement and terms of the tentative agreement between the SIUC Board of Trustees and the FA, we’ll be posting some material that we gathered during the strike that was pushed aside because of breaking news.

Student interview from November 4.

A fuller analysis will probably have to wait until morning, but to tide you over here are some stories from the local media:

KFVS 12
WSIL 3 (includes full text from Chancellor Rita Cheng to SIUC students and staff)
WPSD 6
The Southern Illinoisan
Daily Egyptian

meanwhile in little egypt, part 3

Posted today on Socialistworker.org:

The key issues in the strike flow from SIU Chancellor Rita Cheng and SIU President Glen Poshard’s attempts to impose a “corporate education” model on the school. As one student and Navy veteran asked in an open letter, “Is SIUC just after my government benefits after all? Like [the for-profit] University of Phoenix?”

“What is at stake here,” said striking professor Jyostna Kapur, “is the education of working class and middle class students. The administration wants to cheat our students of a good education by trying to make us work for more and more with less and less at a time when working class and middle class students are going into debt for this education.”

Read the full article.

From a doctoral student:

SIU administration is acting like the only effect this strike is having on the university is a tiny percent of classes being cancelled or having substitutes. What about the stress, anger, and frustration felt by so many of us who care deeply about what happens at this university? I may not have any cancelled classes, but I can’t focus on my work, am incredibly stressed out, and will never feel the same about SIU again. Wake up, SIU! Everything’s not going back to normal when the strike ends. The bad feelings will remain for a long time after.

The most recent petition signature reads:

“It is becoming increasingly apparent that something is terribly wrong with the Administrative structure as SIUC and this strike is actually a symptom of a larger problem. As a student I am signing right now to not only support my faculty, but to say ENOUGH! I believe that greed and corruption are at the center of this struggle. It is not the greed of the Faculty however, it is the greed for money and power at the top. I am asking that Glenn Poshard and Rita Cheng resign from this institution, so that we can restore dignity and integrity to this university.”- Mickey Johnson

Have you asked your friends to sign the petition today?

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/savetenureatsiucarbondale/