Academic Freedom Alliance Statement on Tenure

Last Friday, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick of Texas held a press conference to address the Faculty Council of the University of Texas. The resolution recently passed by the council reaffirms the university’s academic freedom and condemns political intervention in the curriculum. Patrick said that the ban on “critical race theory” in Texas universities would be his top priority. He also promised to make tenure at public universities abolishable. This is an alarming escalation in the Republican war upon higher education. Patrick is likely to lead the charge of other politicians, particularly if his current crusade has electoral advantages.

Today, the Academic Freedom Alliance published a public response to Patrick’s announcement. The following letter is a copy:

To protect university faculty from politicians, donors, university administrators and others trying to suppress their ideas, tenure protections were created in American higher education throughout the twentieth century. These proposals by the lieutenant governor strike directly at the heart of academic enterprise, prohibiting teaching certain ideas and thus protecting against intellectual challenge. In effect, this establishes campus orthodoxies, and prohibits the free expression of dissent. Intellectual life is more endangered than any other thing.

University must have a place where political ideas can be debated freely and are supported by evidence, argument, analysis. Universities should not be subject to popular vote at polls or in legislatures. A free society does not empower politicians—or anyone—to censor ideas they do not like and silence scholars of whom they disapprove.

The whole article is available here.