Margaret Soltan at University Diaries has published a great post about tenure and the power (or lack thereof) of tenured faculty. Make sure you read the post (and subscribe to the blog because it rocks) but, in the meanwhile, I wanted to call your attention to the story of Dr. Alexander McPherson who resisted the attempts of the University of California Irvine to take the mandatory sexual harassment training:
“I have consistently refused to take such training on the grounds that the adoption of the requirement was a naked political act by the state that offended my sensibilities, violated my rights as a tenured professor, impugned my character and cast a shadow of suspicion on my reputation and career,” McPherson said.
“I consider my refusal an act of civil disobedience. I even offered to go to jail if the university persisted in persecuting me for my refusal. We Scots are very stubborn in matters of this sort.”
It’s so good to hear that such things still take place. Normally, at every campus I have visited or heard of, the most beaten down, brown-nosing, terrified folks who are ready to kiss ass of every minor administrator are not the tenure-track faculty, the adjuncts, the instructors, the grad students, or the secretarial staff. It’s the tenured profs. It’s as if the moment you got tenure, you somehow immediately learned to tremble in the presence of any minuscule administrative pseudo-authority. I have no idea why that is but I have gotten used to the fact that any resistance even to the greatest act of stupidity on campus will not come from tenured people.
Kudos to Dr. McPherson who resisted the silly and humiliating “training” the university wanted to inflict on him. And shame on all those tenured colleagues of his who did not join his protest.
Every year, I am forced to take the so-called “ethics training” that teaches me in the most condescending way you can imagine not to accept bribes, not to divert university funding to my relatives, and not to steal office supplies. So I know where McPherson’s outrage is coming from.