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In defense of tenure:

February 7, 2010

Tenure necessary for independent thought,” Linda Lequin, Telegraph-Journal (Feb. 6/10, A12):

The public sometimes seems immune to the issues facing our higher education institutions. We have heard of (and still regret) the soaring costs of a university degree for the students, the insufficient funds to maintain much needed programs and the lack of research money for professors.

One subject seems to come back and “bite us on the foot” regularly: the fact university teachers have job security known as tenure.

Tenure is the guarantee that full-time professors can teach and do their research without fear of reprisal in areas and ideas that might be unpopular with the various forms of institutional power that define our intellectual sphere.

If a researcher in one of our universities wants to work on a project that isn’t in the best interest of the administrators or reigning political party, he/she has the necessary job security to complete and publish the study. Imagine if professors were forced to do research that only shows the world in which everything is marvellous and reflects the same philosophy as that of our administrators!

Tenured teachers and librarians are in a position to benefit society by advancing views that might annoy politicians, dismay university administrators and even outrage media pundits. Is it not in the public interest that one group have the ability to stand up to the powerful without job retaliation?

Shouldn’t more groups have that possibility?

Suppose the province decided to abolish tenure. The quality of higher education in our province would slide downwards without a chance of recovering.

LINDA LEQUIN
President, Federation of New Brunswick Faculty Associations

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