July 24, 2007

Easier to Fire a QB than a Tenured Professor

Tenure for teachers has outlived its usefulness and makes it nearly impossible to fire those who are incompetent or dishonest. Two-and-a-half years were needed to terminate Ward Churchill of the University of Colorado. Finally, the school administration did that, after it displayed its own incompetence by ignoring one of the major charges by misapplying the First Amendment.

Regents vote to fire Churchill (Selections)

BOULDER – The University of Colorado Board of Regents voted to terminate controversial professor Ward Churchill on Tuesday evening.

Churchill touched off a firestorm in 2005 after an essay surfaced which he wrote shortly after 9/11 likening some victims in the World Trade Center to Adolf Eichmann, who helped carry out the Holocaust.

University officials concluded he could not be fired for his comments because they were protected by the First Amendment, but they launched an investigation into allegations that he fabricated or falsified his research and plagiarized the work of others.

So, Churchill couldn't be fired for his comments, which were protected by the First Amendment. How stupid can university adminstrators get? The First Amendment grants the freedom of speech. The government cannot arrest someone and charge them with a crime for speaking his mind. That's it.

However, employers are completely within their rights to demand that people who work for them to adhere to certain standards of conduct and to not involve the employer in their controversies. The greeter at WalMart cannot tell everyone coming in the store to go to hell without expecting to be fired.

Two-and-a-half years...but, the firing will be contested in a lawsuit, so it's not really over. John Rocker formerly with the Braves and Michael Vick soon to be formerly with the Falcons have learned that what one says or does in his own time can get them fired in less time. Even the former president of private Harvard University, found out what happens by issuing an honest statement--but, he wasn't tenured and offended the politically correct crowd.

Why are our leftist, ivory tower campuses so intent on keeping bad employees? When and how will tenure end?

Posted by Woody M. at July 24, 2007 09:00 PM | TrackBack

Arts & Humanities professors are a protected species. In Colorado, that's important.

Posted by Assistant Village Idiot at July 25, 2007 09:22 AM

He gives "Churchill" a bad name.

Posted by Jeremayakovka at July 25, 2007 09:34 AM

garbage out!

Posted by nanc at July 25, 2007 10:59 AM

This is exactly why there is tenure. The reason for tenure is so that professors can express themselves however they wish. If this protection didn't exist genius would live in a miasma of fear, which isn't conducive to new and exciting tought.

I believe that the quote within the wikipedia is germain to this topic:

"To be clear: the issues here have nothing to do with the quality of Ward Churchill’s scholarship or his professional credentials. However one views his choice of words or specific arguments, he is being put in the dock solely for his radical critique of U.S. history and present-day policy in the wake of the events of September 11, 2001. Apparently, 9/11 is now the third rail of American intellectual life: to critically probe into its causes and to interrogate the international role of the United States is treated as heresy; those inquiring can be denied forums, careers, and even personal safety. . .The Churchill case is not an isolated incident but a concentrated example of a well-orchestrated campaign launched in the name of “academic freedom” and “balance” which in fact aims to purge the universities of more radical thinkers and oppositional thought generally, and to create a climate of intimidation.

– An Open Letter from Concerned Academics"

He may be wrong, but you might first want to read his essay. I thought he was a bit extremist, but I do agree with his quote of Malcolm X. I have always believed that the events of 9/11 had everthing to do with chickens coming home to roost. That thought is sour medicine , but true nonetheless.

Posted by psyberwolfe at July 25, 2007 04:01 PM

psyber, would you defend tenure for a professor who taught that slavery was good? There are limits to academic endeavors.

Posted by Woody at July 25, 2007 06:46 PM

I would defend him. 10 years ago here at UT there was a Law Professor who put his foot in it after affirmative action was shot down by the supreme court. He was saying that affirmitive action was the only way minorities would ever get a post secondary education. I didn't agree with him but yet he is still teaching at UT today. That year we had a number of round tables and discussions about race relations, which in my opinion did more good than his expressed myopic opinion.

A quote by James Billington is appropriate here, "Intellectual and cultural freedom is the most important single precondition for the breakdown of the kinds of tyrannical and totalitarian systems that periodically threaten us."

Wether the thoughts are right or wrong the truth will come out in the end.

Posted by psyberwolfe at July 25, 2007 09:00 PM

I don't have to have a professor teaching that the holocaust didn't happen or that Nazism is good to know what is really right, with or without academic discussions. Let these wackos take their causes public with their own time and money and save the classrooms for teaching things actually useful.

Posted by Woody at July 26, 2007 06:59 AM

A brief quote from the Minister of State for Multiculturalism in Canada:

"the government will not tolerate statements that create dissonance in our society and disrespect for others"

You would think that the position of minister for multi-culti and the quote itself were a gag. They are not. The woman who said this, and the quote itself are real. In her previous incarnation, she was of course a school principal. That not being enough damage done, she was groomed for political office, by the natural ruling party of canada, the Liberals.

Posted by earl west at July 26, 2007 07:41 AM

I find that this topic pulls me in two directions. "A" being of a mind that this guy is allowed to say things that are assinine and awful and I'm allowed to say that he is assinine and awful. And his employer is allowed to fire him.

The "B" is a bit more complicated and I don't know that I can make y'all understand my ideas. First, I can't believe that this is the FIRST time that this professor has made a 'controversial' statement. Professors of this type usually have a record of this.
So, the university offered him tenure anyway. And now they are reaping the harvest. You can't fault a snake for acting like a snake.

Woody, you made a comment to the effect of teaching things that are really useful. Is it not useful to be given a nugget of opinion and to utilize my own mind to decide whether said nugget is valid or worthless?

I had a professor that spouted tripe much like this at university. I had two choices:
a) keep taking the class
b) drop the class

I chose to drop the class because I had heard his kind of drivel before and I didn't choose to waste my time hearing it again.

I just kind of think it's a bit worrisome that people have to worry about being fired because of unpopular speech/thoughts.

Woody, don't you automatically lose the argument because you brought up Nazis? Whose law it that? Ask GM, he knows whose law it is. :-)

Posted by Jennifer at July 26, 2007 09:44 AM

Jen, to answer your last question first, I did not call or compare the commenter to a Nazi. I just chose to find a cause so outrageous that it would be hard for anyone to defend a professor spouting that nonsense. Do we need to discuss slavery all over again or the right of women to vote to know that those subjects are settled and that it is nuts for a professor to bring up such worthless topics? I still defend my statement that there are limits to what a professor may do and that to go into such nonsense is a waste at the expense of actually useful topics.

On the choice issue, students pick professors because some are easy graders, because they agree at their impressionable age with some nonsense being spewed, or because the other class they wanted was closed. Wouldn't it be better, however, if they had the best life and career choices available rather than classes from kooks?

On the tenure, the university offered it to him and was constrained by that when he crossed the line of sanity. If tenure didn't exist at all, as I propose, then this would not have been a problem.

Come to think of it, when was the last time that a professor challenged our intellectual pursuits by proposing that we drop tenure? Wouldn't that be more useful than some other topics that they pick? No, they don't want to give up the free ride.

BTW, professors tend to mind their manners and toe the line while waiting for tenure. After they get it, many go into semi-retirement. Some get crazy. Hopefully, some still do their jobs as intended by their customers, which are the students and/or the parents who pay the tuition.

P.S. See G.M.'s post above, which continues this topic. He mentions that Churchill called the 9-11 victims of Al Qaeda "Little Eichmann's." So, my mention of the craziness of discussing Nazis in the classroom isn't so far off base.

Posted by Woody at July 27, 2007 09:03 AM

I still defend my statement that there are limits to what a professor may do and that to go into such nonsense is a waste at the expense of actually useful topics.

Sure there are limits, and I don't have a hard and fast opinion on whether tenure is worthwhile or not.

But opinions are like... and what you think is worthless topic could be quite vital to someone else. Gee, look at how much fun it has given us here.

And BTW, I did NOT say that you called someone a Nazi, I just mentioned that you brought them up. And if GM brought them up, then he loses the argument too. I was making a small, and probably poor quality joke based on:
Godwin's Law
As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.

Godwin's Law does not question whether any particular reference or comparison to Hitler or the Nazis might be appropriate, but only asserts that one arising is increasingly probable. It is precisely because such a comparison or reference may sometimes be appropriate, Godwin has argued,[3] that overuse of Nazi and Hitler comparisons should be avoided, because it robs the valid comparisons of their impact.

Posted by Jennifer at July 27, 2007 10:27 PM

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