The Courage That Comes With Tenure

This morning’s Chronicle story about the firing and suicide of Professor Antonio Calvo at Princeton was a valiant attempt to get to the bottom of this story. Ultimately, though, it seems that Princeton has actually convinced its administrators and faculty to keep this matter an internal one. Even professors who signed the open letter to the administration complaining that the administration had mistreated Calvo refused to speak to The Chronicle about the issue. That universities are not exactly the bastions of transparency shouldn’t be news.

But the most revealing quote in the piece was this:

“To have this intrusion of a corporate-style firing come into the halls of Princeton was shocking in its brutality,” says one tenured professor of languages at Princeton who, concerned about the reaction the remarks might draw from administrators and colleagues, asked not to be named.

Oh come on. If tenure doesn’t even allow you to make this remark openly, then what is its purpose? You’re so worried your colleagues might disagree with you that you’ll only provide this thought anonymously? Where is the courage? Where is the dissent? Where are the protections of academic freedom?

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