Mike Adams
After every article I write lamenting the deplorable state of higher education, I get letters from readers that say ?thank God for tenure.? I guess that many have concluded that tenure is solely responsible for my continued employment at the institution I so frequently criticize. I don?t see it that way.

Over the last couple of years, my columns have been read by millions of people. Fortunately, many of my readers are among the finest lawyers in the United States of America. Some of those lawyers have now become my good friends. Put simply, I buy my ink by the barrel and I have far better lawyers than those employed in the UNC system. That?s why I don?t have to feign respect for the people that employ me, just to keep my job.

However, my opposition to tenure isn?t based solely upon my belief that it does nothing for me. It is based instead on the problems I believe that it causes for me and for others on a daily basis.

Sometimes the problems caused by tenure are minor. For example, some untenured professors incessantly brown-nose me before they have gotten my vote for tenure. After they find out they have achieved tenure, the same professors will hardly smile or say ?hello? when they pass in the hallway. They become rude and withdrawn almost overnight. And, suddenly, they show up late for every department meeting. They answer cell phones in the middle of committee meetings, and so on.

Worse than the way the newly-tenured treat their colleagues is the way they become suddenly inaccessible to students. I will grant that few ever worked a 40-hour week before tenure, but some will never work a 20-hour week after tenure. There are tenured professors I know who never come to work before noon. In one extreme case, a professor down the hall from me is so absent that I have considered putting a sign on my door saying ?No, I have NOT seen your professor today!? It wouldn?t have much of an impact on our relationship, since I only see that professor about twice a semester.

Then there are the really extreme cases of incivility, which are produced by tenure. Recently, a tenured professor publicly accused me of creating a ?hostile work environment? for writing an article exposing her for making a false accusation of sexual harassment against another professor. In her mind, a false accusation of sexual harassment is only false if no one talks about it. When they do, the false harassment becomes real because it is difficult to work in a place where people stigmatize you for filing false sexual harassment charges.


Mike Adams

Mike Adams is a criminology professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and author of Letters to a Young Progressive: How To Avoid Wasting Your Life Protesting Things You Don't Understand.