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Pre-Tenure Fear

It has come to my attention that my writing for this blog has upset some of my colleagues. While it bothers me a little that I found this out thirdhand, what really irks me is the responses I get when I share this newfound information with others. People keep telling me to be careful until I get tenure.

If you’ve read even just a couple of my blog posts or other written pieces, you know that I try to write my opinion honestly (and it is just my opinion). This has been both good and bad for me. I’ve been particularly outspoken when it comes to contingent faculty members and the culture of fear that surrounds them. I think I got this tenure-track job at Richard Bland College precisely because I don’t tend to shy away from issues when I’m writing (and because I’m a decent instructor). Now there’s another culture of fear: one surrounding the prospect of tenure.

I’ve never understood why people hold back until they get tenure, or really why academics hold back at all. It seems to me that holding back would be a reason one wouldn’t get tenure. I like to think that higher education wants to encourage innovation instead of perpetuate homogeneity; judging from the recent advice, that is not the case. If I do get tenure one day, I wonder what culture of fear will arise next.

[Creative Commons-licensed photo by Flickr user Kradlum.]

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