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Stanley Fish on Academic Freedom:

Prominent English professor and legal scholar Stanley Fish has an interesting NYT column on academic freedom:

Last week we came to the section on academic freedom in my course on the law of higher education and I posed this hypothetical to the students: Suppose you were a member of a law firm or a mid-level executive in a corporation and you skipped meetings or came late, blew off assignments or altered them according to your whims, abused your colleagues and were habitually rude to clients. What would happen to you?

The chorus of answers cascaded immediately: "I'd be fired." Now, I continued, imagine the same scenario and the same set of behaviors, but this time you're a tenured professor in a North American university. What then?

I answered this one myself: "You'd be celebrated as a brave nonconformist, a tilter against orthodoxies, a pedagogical visionary and an exemplar of academic freedom."

Fish then describes a particularly egregious case at the University of Ottawa, where a professor apparently used academic freedom and tenure as pretexts for gross neglect of his duties and abuse of his authority. While the Ottawa situation described by Fish strikes me as an extreme case, the general problem he identifies is real: The combination of tenure and overbroad conceptions of academic freedom really do sometimes enable academics to behave irresponsibly with little or no sanction.

Many view academic freedom as a kind of sacred, intrinsic value. I think that Fish is closer to the truth in seeing it as a limited, prudential institution that gives professors the discretion they need to teach and research effectively, and to avoid retaliation for expressing unpopular political views outside of class. However, academic freedom should not be considered a blank check to shield our teaching methods and research from all outside scrutiny.

UPDATE: I am aware, as various commenters have noted, that the Ottawa professor in this case may end up being fired. For that reason, Fish was probably wrong to make the case such a central focus of his argument, and I was remiss in the initial post for failing to point out this shortcoming in his piece. However, the fact that removal is only likely in such an extreme case (and even then is not a certainty and requires jumping through many procedural hoops) suggest that tenure and academic freedom can serve as shields for a great deal of lesser but still significant misconduct.

JC (mail):
I had a professor in college whose voicemail said "Don't leave me a voicemail. I don't check voicemail. If you want to reach me, send me an e-mail. And don't stop by my office outside of office hours."

Only in academia...
2.13.2009 2:48pm
alwsdad (mail):
Many US institutions (I don't know about Canada) have adopted various forms of 'post-tenure review' which would deal effectively (if not quickly enough) with someone like the Ottawa professor.

But the notion that a US professor who was routinely rude to students, abusive to colleagues, and completely neglectful of all teaching and other duties being "celebrated" is just silly. Such a professor would be very poorly thought of by all who knew him/her. Sure, there may be the occasional "celebrity" professor who can get away with such behavior, but the typical rank-and-file professors working in American universities just couldn't (and few would try). Fish does a disservice to all of us by presenting this as some sort of norm.
2.13.2009 2:49pm
Robert S. Porter (mail) (www):

I had a professor in college whose voicemail said "Don't leave me a voicemail. I don't check voicemail. If you want to reach me, send me an e-mail. And don't stop by my office outside of office hours."

Only in academia...
That's probably because there is a different relationship between students &professors and business persons &clients.

And that sounds like a reasonable request. People who still use the phone to communicate need to get with the program. It's inconvinent and antiquated. When I become a professor I'm going to use email almost exclusively. And generally the rule about visiting in person is visit during office hours or make an appointment. Sounds pefectly reasonable to me.
2.13.2009 3:09pm
Steve:
Suppose you were a member of a law firm or a mid-level executive in a corporation and you skipped meetings or came late, blew off assignments or altered them according to your whims, abused your colleagues and were habitually rude to clients. What would happen to you?

The correct answer, at least as to law firms, is: "It depends if I'm a rainmaker."
2.13.2009 3:11pm
Hannibal Lector:
As Fish correctly notes, tenure is an ideal mechanism for protecting academic deadwood. Speaking from personal experience, it is probably the single most effective mechanism working against freedom of expression in academia. Junior faculty must toe the department line on matters large and small or they are unlikely to get tenure. Junior facuilty who cause a ruckus by annoying any one of the endless "victim" groups on campus are liklely to be denied tenure. A friend who brought in literally millions of dollars in grant money to his university, won teaching awards, and became a professionally and publicly respected national expeert in his discipline was assured by his department head that he would get tenure. A left-wing dean blocked him claiming that he was too conservative. My friend has been a life-long Democrat of the "Clean for Gene" variety his entire life.
2.13.2009 3:14pm
Profane (mail) (www):
Hear hear alwsdad. I would add that the small number of cases where tenure is abused should remind all of us to be careful in our hiring and promotion decisions.

BTW JC, while I am at the University, I am either teaching, in office hours, or in a committee meeting. Calling (unless it is during office hours) is an inefficient means of contact, since there may be up to a three day wait before I am able to answer a message. So too is stopping by my office if it is not my office hours. So, naturally, I tell my students to e-mail me if they need to get in touch.
2.13.2009 3:17pm
Sagar:
isn't what happened to the fake-Indian professor (Colorado) along the same principle? he was free to call the 9/11 victims little Eichmanns and generally spout off his nonsense (free speech or academic freedom), but was fired for plagiarism?

may be he is the exception. there is a general belief that tenured professors can get away with anything and many times it appears to be true.
2.13.2009 3:38pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
I don't see why we need tenure at all. Why should professors have a virtual guarantee of job when few other workers in our economy that? Tenure really doesn't even protect a professor when he needs it. One professor at the UC Berkeley HAAS School of Business got fired for whistle blowing on his fellow professors who were engaged in some shady business. He found himself fired for not showing up on the first day of one of his classes. But no one had registered for that class. Fired anyway.
2.13.2009 3:45pm
Happyshooter:
Timely lawsuit from www.alliancedefensefund.org

Quoted from the above site:

LOS ANGELES — Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund Center for Academic Freedom filed a lawsuit against officials of the Los Angeles Community College District Wednesday. The lawsuit comes after a professor censored and threatened to expel a student following a speech about marriage and his Christian faith during an open-ended assignment in a public speaking class.

"Christian students shouldn't be penalized or discriminated against for speaking about their beliefs," said ADF Senior Counsel David French. "Public institutions of higher learning cannot selectively censor Christian speech. This student was speaking well within the confines of his professor's assignment when he was censored and ultimately threatened with expulsion."

On Nov. 24, 2008, Los Angeles City College speech professor John Matteson interrupted and ended Jonathan Lopez's presentation mid-speech, calling him a "fascist bastard" in front of the class for speaking about his faith, which included reading the dictionary definition of marriage and reciting two Bible verses. Instead of allowing Lopez to finish, Matteson told the other students they could leave if they were offended. When no one left, Matteson dismissed the class. Refusing to grade the assigned speech, Matteson wrote on Lopez's evaluation, "Ask God what your grade is."

One week later, after seeing Lopez talking to the college's dean of academic affairs, Matteson told Lopez that he would make sure he'd be expelled from school. Matteson's treatment of Lopez during his speech follows an earlier incident in which Matteson told his entire class after the November election, "If you voted yes on Proposition 8, you are a fascist bastard."

"Professor Matteson clearly violated Mr. Lopez's free speech rights by engaging in viewpoint discrimination and retaliation because he disagreed with the student's religious beliefs," said French. "When students are given open-ended assignments in a public speaking class, the First Amendment protects their ability to express their views. Moreover, the district has a speech code that has created a culture of censorship on campus. America's public universities and colleges are supposed to be a 'marketplace of ideas,' not a hotbed of intolerance."

ADF-allied attorney Sam Kim and attorney Michael Parker of the Buena Park firm Sam Kim and Associates, APC, are serving as local counsel in the case.
2.13.2009 3:46pm
js (mail):
I would read university diaries to get a slightly more balanced version of this story, which includes the fact that most of the faculty and students at this university hate this prof, his fellow faculty were the people who called attention to this and got him dismissed from teaching. Fish is setting up a straw man as this professor has essentially no support.
2.13.2009 3:58pm
gerbilsbite:
Interesting--are you and Fish conceptualizing academic freedom more along the lines of the Speech and Debate Clause: professors with tenure are free to argue whatever position, publish whatever research or original work, teach however they want, as long as they're fulfilling their requirements to the school to teach/research/etc. (analogous to Congressmen still being liable for inciting to riot or slander, unless they're engaged in the job of representation)?
2.13.2009 4:01pm
Crimso:

I don't see why we need tenure at all. Why should professors have a virtual guarantee of job when few other workers in our economy that?

I don't necessarily disagree, but I did what amounted to a 17 yr apprenticeship after high school to get a faculty position. A position which pays about 1/3 what the avg is for someone with my credentials (that's avg for industry and academia combined). They can have my tenure and I'll go back to yearly contracts, but I'd insist upon at least a doubling of my salary, retroactive to when I took the job. You can argue that I shouldn't be compensated because I knew I'd be making a lot less when I took the job (so how could I complain if they simply threw tenure out the window), but I would argue that the prospect of potential extreme job security factored into my decision as well.
2.13.2009 4:03pm
Ilya Somin:
The notion that a US professor who was routinely rude to students, abusive to colleagues, and completely neglectful of all teaching and other duties being "celebrated" is just silly. Such a professor would be very poorly thought of by all who knew him/her.

I agree that would happen if he did it just because he is a jerk or a fool. But if - as in this case - it was in the alleged service of a trendy political cause, I suspect he would attract a good many supporters in the higher ed world. Certainly enough to make it difficult to sanction him effectively.
2.13.2009 4:04pm
LN (mail):
I guess I don't understand how a story about some tenured professor who is going to get fired proves that tenure allows people to act with impunity.
2.13.2009 4:07pm
A Law Dawg:
I guess I don't understand how a story about some tenured professor who is going to get fired proves that tenure allows people to act with impunity.


I think the point is that this is an example of how far you have to go to get fired, and that behavior that normal people find utterly reprehensible is tolerated in academia unless it reaches this point.

I am sure the norms are different from school to school and faculty to faculty.
2.13.2009 4:10pm
LN (mail):

behavior that normal people find utterly reprehensible is tolerated in academia unless it reaches this point


I don't understand what this means -- tolerated until it is no longer tolerated? First off, Fish says something much stronger:


"You'd be celebrated as a brave nonconformist, a tilter against orthodoxies, a pedagogical visionary and an exemplar of academic freedom."


But his story of course is about someone who "infuriated his dean" and "distressed his colleagues."
2.13.2009 4:18pm
commontheme (mail):
Does anyone take Stanley Fish seriously anymore?
2.13.2009 4:19pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
As I understand it, tenure has suffered some serious mission creep since it was originated, at the start of the 20th century. What I have read was that tenure was originally a protection of faculty from being fired for actions that they took away from, and unconnected to their jobs and the university. The goal was to make sure that if a professor went to a Socialist Party rally, that they couldn't be fired for this.

Over time, tenure seems to have morphed into first a guarantee that you couldn't be fired for holding bizarre or unpopular views ("Republicans do not have horns--at least, they have them clipped while still young"), and of late, into a guarantee at some schools that you can teach stuff that is obviously wrong.

I have mixed feelings about tenure. I had one history professor who had clearly retired on the job. But most of them were clearly working hard on research and teaching, and not letting tenure encourage laziness. I also like the idea that tenure may make it possible for unpopular points of view to remain in the academy. Unfortunately, the left's utter domination (even though numerically a minority) of many schools means that unless you are extraordinarily competent at deception, the chances of non-leftists getting tenure in many social science faculties seems to be small.

It's not just politics. One of my wife's psychology professors told her in an unguarded moment that one did not dare let drop that you didn't drink during the elaborate job interview/go out to dinner/etc. process that the department used. If this came out, you would not be hired.
2.13.2009 4:22pm
Javert:

The combination of tenure and overbroad conceptions of academic freedom really do sometimes enable academics to behave irresponsibly with little or no sanction.
You've just described how 88 Duke faculty got away with perpetuating the lacrosse rape hoax. Worse is that some of them have been given more resources and have been promoted to deans.
2.13.2009 4:23pm
A Law Dawg:
one did not dare let drop that you didn't drink during the elaborate job interview/go out to dinner/etc. process


I think this is almost always true. Nobody wants to hire a buzzkill, and I say this as a buzzkill myself.
2.13.2009 4:24pm
A Law Dawg:
behavior that normal people find utterly reprehensible is tolerated in academia unless it reaches this point

I don't understand what this means -- tolerated until it is no longer tolerated?


No. It means "engaging in Jackass Behaviors X Y and Z will get you fired, but engaging in only two of them is permitted in academia far more than in normal workplaces, as any of the three would get you fired in such a place."
2.13.2009 4:26pm
Anderson (mail):
Ari at EOTAW skewers Fish:

So gosh, yes, Fish must be right: if academic freedom protects a miscreant like Rancourt, it must be a terrible thing. But wait! Administrators at the University of Ottawa are now "recommend[ing] to the Board of Governors the dismissal with cause of Professor Denis Rancourt from his faculty position." Which is to say, he may be fired. So Fish's claim that someone like Rancourt, so long as he's working in the halls of academe, will be "celebrated as a brave nonconformist, a tilter against orthodoxies, a pedagogical visionary and an exemplar of academic freedom" is drivel. In his conclusion Fish admits as much, allowing that Rancourt isn't resting comfortably under the parasol of academic freedom. So the first several hundred words of the column were just a misunderstanding, then? And academic freedom functions properly after all, Professor Fish? "But only till next time," he answers. That sound you hear, readers, is the clutching of pearls.

Luckily for Fish, he's a regular contributor to the New York Times, which means that he'll keep his bully pulpit even though he's clearly incompetent.
2.13.2009 4:32pm
LN (mail):
Again, I don't see what's not "normal" about this workplace. Even in "normal" workplaces, people who are rude and insubordinate are not necessarily fired; if they are senior enough and wield enough power, there needs to be a bigger case against them.

Face it, the only thing unusual here is that the result of such bad behavior is: "You'd be celebrated as a brave nonconformist, a tilter against orthodoxies, a pedagogical visionary and an exemplar of academic freedom." How WEIRD! Of course the only people who try to celebrate Rancourt are Stanley Fish and Rancourt himself. This is one of the most blatant strawman arguments I have ever seen.
2.13.2009 4:38pm
David Warner:
commontheme,

"Does anyone take Stanley Fish seriously anymore?"

Academic freedom and its abuse is too important to take seriously.
2.13.2009 4:41pm
A Law Dawg:
How WEIRD! Of course the only people who try to celebrate Rancourt are Stanley Fish and Rancourt himself. This is one of the most blatant strawman arguments I have ever seen.


I'm not defending Fish. I'm defending Ilya.
2.13.2009 4:50pm
Archon (mail):
Remember when Stanley Fish almost killed off Duke's English department?

Better yet, do you remember the last time anyone really cared what Stanley Fish had to say about something?
2.13.2009 4:53pm
LN (mail):
Regarding Ilya's update: if we want to have a discussion about uncorrected abuses of academic freedom, shouldn't we ground the discussion with at least one example of an actual uncorrected abuse of academic freedom? Otherwise this still seems like an exercise in "bash the strawman": man, those people who defend academic freedom like it's sacred, they make my blood boil! The fact that I don't have any examples just proves how bad the problem really is!
2.13.2009 5:10pm
Steve:
By the way, my comment about rainmakers was not entirely flip. It's actually quite silly to think that no one could get away with abusive behavior like this in any context other than academia.
2.13.2009 5:22pm
corneille1640 (mail):
Ilya's update was probably unnecessary, because Fish himself acknowledge that the Rancourt case partially contradicts his (Fish's) own point:

My assessment of the way in which some academics contrive to turn serial irresponsibility into a form of heroism under the banner of academic freedom has now been at once confirmed and challenged by events at the University of Ottawa,
2.13.2009 6:15pm
Jiffy:
A Zarkov:

Could you provide a citation for your story about the Haas School professor?
2.13.2009 6:15pm
josil (mail):
Like one of the other commenters, it seems reasonable for faculties (at all levels) to have the same employment guarantees as day laborers. I see nothing inherent in teaching or research that requires tenure-like protections--unless everyone else benefits from similar protections.
2.13.2009 6:26pm
pintler:

I see nothing inherent in teaching or research that requires tenure-like protections


I always thought the idea was that, having identified an Einstein, Feynman, or Darwin, you gave them tenure so they could follow their curiosity wherever it led them w/o worrying about providing results this year. The cost/benefit calculation is that, sure, Prof. Smith will get tenure and go on an extended 'in cubicle sabbatical', but that Prof. Jones will discover the transistor or cure cancer, and on the balance society benefits.

There is middle ground between lifetime tenure and employment at will, like multi year contracts. Perhaps that would stop the worst abuses while still allowing the brilliant to follow their hunches.
2.13.2009 6:53pm
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):
I've known Stan Fish since he was department chair at Duke, and while there's a lot to disagree with him about, and plenty of room to satirize him, only a fool dismisses him out of hand.

Tenure has some good reasons behind it, and some counter-arguments against it, but the whole argument would be a little easier to pursue if it were more often about defending the right to teach evolution or profess Christian beliefs, and less often about calling murdered people "little Eichmanns".
2.13.2009 6:57pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Jiffy:

Ok when I first commented I couldn't find the story. Now I have it. The professor was Wallace Smith. See this story in the WSJ and this longer version in the SF Examiner.
In several letters to campus officials in the mid-1990's, Smith Charged that William Hasler, dean of the Haas School of Business, had violated UC-Berkeley policies by making improper payments to business faculty.

The allegations were confirmed in an internal university audit dated May 1996, according to a Wall Street Journal story last year. The audit found that Hasler had funneled $648,000 to 35 business professors from1993 to 1995.


Smith was actually not officially fired, but forced to resign.
2.13.2009 6:58pm
Steve:
Is there some reason to believe that tenure came into existence, and continues to exist, by virtue of something other than a free-market process?
2.13.2009 7:01pm
PlugInMonster:
Charlie - I think we can all agree that let's get rid of the "little Eichmann" profs first. You know - low hanging fruit. Then we can go after the less egregious abusers. The fact that the worst abusers are basically free to be petty tyrants is a shameful blot on America.
2.13.2009 7:03pm
11B40 (mail):
Greetings:

I had a teacher back in high school who used to say that education is the only consumer transaction where the buyer likes to be shorted.
2.13.2009 7:16pm
freakster:
Both tenure and academic freedom, particularly in the public university sphere, need to be re-thought. Both concepts deprive the employer (the state) of the ability to manage its workforce. There is no right to a job, and certainly no right to teach. The state should have the right to fire professors that advocate positions that are contrary to the employer's interest. No private employer would tolerate such disloyalty. Only at the university level is such insubordination an exalted virtue.
2.13.2009 8:06pm
Jerome Cole (mail) (www):
@freakster You impersonation of Sarcastro is really bad.
2.13.2009 8:22pm
Jerome Cole (mail) (www):
@freakster You impersonation of Sarcastro is really bad.
2.13.2009 8:22pm
ChrisTS (mail):
Oh, Athena! Even here, on a law blog, I must encounter Stanley. Is there no end to this man's pernicious influence?

First, Stan spearheaded the POMO movement which has nearly killed 'English' as a discipline and threatens all others.

Now, Stan has decided there is such a thing as objective truth and - typically for this crowd - is sure he's got it. Interestingly, as an exorbitantly remunerated academic, he has decided to take aim at other academics.

Look, I have no idea what goes on at R1 universities; perhaps they do keep slackers and abusers on until something combusts. If so, they are not unlike the many businesses and government institutions which do the same. (As we all seem to like anecdotes, I will simply note the many horror stories my non-academic spouse has told me about what goes on in the world of 'business.')

I think what the non-academic community - and academics in those 'elite' situations - do not recognize is that the majority of tenured and tenure-track professors are working hard for their students and their institutions. Period. I know that at my college, no one who did anything like this professor in Ottawa would have been kept around for any length of time. Certainly, anyone who dares to offend students will not get a raise. And, it's a lot easier to get rid of a tenrued academic than many realize; the administration just has to be rough enough and offer a reasonable 'buy out' plan. The threat of public humiliation is an effective tool, as is forcing someone to teach all intro course at 7:30 in the morning.

Finally, yes, the promise of tenure is both a protection for 'unpopular' research and teaching and a job incentive. Who in his/her right mind would spend another 5-10 years after undergraduate training - making nothing or little in the meantime - to go into a career which requires one to live where one happens to find a job and does not pay anywhere near as well as the other alternatives [e.g., law, business, medicine, etc.]?

In fine: Speak not whereof ye know not. And that goes for Stanley Fish, as well.
2.13.2009 8:32pm
josil (mail):
What does a public university do with tenured faculty in subject matter areas that have become obsolete in terms of student enrollment. This is not criticism--I'm asking for information.
2.13.2009 8:33pm
Jerome Cole (mail) (www):
@Josil
Soylent Green is faculty from departments with declining enrollments!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
2.13.2009 9:23pm
Profane (mail) (www):

What does a public university do with tenured faculty in subject matter areas that have become obsolete in terms of student enrollment.


It doubles their salary and turns them into administrators.
2.13.2009 9:40pm
Jiffy:
A Zarkov:

First, you're citing allegations Smith made in a lawsuit as if they were true. The University of California denied pretty much all of Smith's claims, as a more balanced article from the San Francisco Chronicle at the time shows.

Second, Smith was "fired" not forced to resign. It took a year long process and a vote by the University of California Board of Regents.

Third, as the article notes, Smith was only the third tenured faculty member in the history of the University of California to be fired--so if your point was that tenure doesn't mean much, Smith's case doesn't really prove it.

Finally, Smith lost the lawsuit.
2.13.2009 10:38pm
Simon P:
Given that even the AAUP Guidelines permit a tenured professor to be removed for a failure to live up to certain professional standards, I'm inclined not to believe the problem here is with "academic freedom". Rather, it may have more to do with the way non-performing tenured professors are removed. If tenured professors play an important role in considering whether to remove other tenured professors, it shouldn't be surprising to find that they may tend to cooperate so as to protect even obvious "dereliction of duty." That would be true whether they had the fig leaf of "academic freedom" or not.

I'm not sure how you get around that. Involving professors in the hiring and firing decisions makes a lot of sense, at least when it comes to assessing academic ability and credentials. I don't know how you can eliminate the incentive to shape the notion of tenure to permit a wide range of abuses without losing the best and probably only mechanism to ensure that university faculties consist of the best and brightest. But the problem, I think, is with the structure of the process, not the abstract notion of "academic freedom."
2.13.2009 10:59pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Jiffy:

The Examiner article says Smith resigned while the Chronicle said he was fired. Why is the Chronicle necessarily more accurate than the Examiner? Perhaps both occurred. In any case his charges were confirmed by an audit, so it certainly looks as if there was retaliation.

My point was tenure won't protect a professor if the University really wants to get rid of him. If the UC tried many times to fire professors but only succeeded three time then tenure is certainly protective, but we don't know how many time the UC has tried to fire a tenured professor.

The reason I believe there is something rotten at the Haas School of business comes from someone I know. He claims his wife was a graduate student there and her faculty adviser plagiarized from her thesis work. He published some of her research and represented it as his own. Someone complained on her behalf and she suffered severe retaliation. Unfortunately for the Haas administration, they put provably false statements in writing according to my source. They settled out of court, but she had to find another graduate school. As far as I know the professor went unpunished.
2.14.2009 12:44am
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):
ChrisTS, I suspect you're thinking of another Stan Fish; he's certainly interested in critical theory, but I don't think he'd be considered a "postmodernist." Certainly some of the folks he hired would be, but then some of them -- like Skip Gates and Eve Sedgewick -- then fled the department.
2.14.2009 1:09am
trad and anon (mail):
My point was tenure won't protect a professor if the University really wants to get rid of him. If the UC tried many times to fire professors but only succeeded three time then tenure is certainly protective, but we don't know how many time the UC has tried to fire a tenured professor.
We also don't know how many times the UC has wanted to fire a tenured professor, but tenure deterred them from even trying to do so. That's probably a pretty large effect in this case.
2.14.2009 1:57am
ChrisTS (mail):
Charlie (Colorado):

No, I'm thinking of the one and only Stan Fish. I do not know if you are an academic philosopher or not, and these terms and 'isms' are contentiously defined, but 'postmodernism' is often used in philosophy to include the neo-Marxist, feminist and descontructionist movements. So, 'critical theory' is included under this broader usage.
2.14.2009 6:18pm
Toby:
A Zarkhov

My experience is that is the norm rather than the exception. If you are in an academic town, you see a lot of resumes. One (of several) patterns is the "two masters awarded the same year". When I see it, the story is almost always one of an advisor misapropriating the student's doctoral work, and of a complaint filed, and of a quick, reflexive attack by the departmental hive (when one bee is threatened, all attack). There are other, similar patterns, but the double masters is almost always on queue.

Fact is, I know double masters from Harvard, Duke, North Carlina, Chicago, San Diego State,...It's funny how many of them are prevented from speaking out by some sort of combination Stockholm Syndrome / "If you ever want to work in Academia again...". What they eventually trealize is that they will already never work in Academia again...
2.15.2009 3:54pm
courtwatcher:
Fish's comment that "You'd be celebrated as a brave nonconformist, a tilter against orthodoxies, a pedagogical visionary and an exemplar of academic freedom" is absurd. Prof. Somin, would that be true where you teach? Where I teach, there are a set of professional norms, and everyone knows who follows them and those people are respected. Those who "skip meetings or came late, blow off assignments or alter them according to your whims, abuse . . . colleagues and are habitually rude" to anyone are generally ignored or disliked, or tolerated if they bring other positive qualities to the job. But not celebrated.

It is true that academics often have more ability to act badly with impunity (though ask anyone at a law firm or elsewhere in the business word and they will tell you that as long as the clients are happy, abusing colleagues, etc. are often tolerated). But if, instead of speculating on others' behavior, he actually approached this problem with any rigor or objectivity at all, I think he'd find that his answers are very informed by his own preconceptions and ideology.
2.16.2009 12:39am

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