Bringing Tenure to a Gun Fight

If you haven’t heard, the faculty and students of the University of Maine have been fighting to have a bunch of idiotic cuts restored. As you might imagine, there have been non-violent protests and heated faculty meetings. And then there’s the university’s gunsels, who are packing heat (boldface mine):

At the last three faculty meetings I attended at the University of Southern Maine, armed guards hovered outside the door or circulated through the rooms, hands moving to their hip holsters whenever faculty members raised their voices. Never before in my 25 years at USM had I witnessed such shows of state force against the faculty, even when the campus mobilized in 1995 to demand the ousting of then-Chancellor Michael J. Orenduff, a protest that eventually lead to his departure for an institution in the southwest.

After Friday’s faculty meeting (March 28, 2014) of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, which was devoted, in part, to a controversial plan designed to reduce the number of departments in the college, an observing student asked me why so many faculty either remained silent or debated details of the plan without ever attending to its consequences for students, for shared governance, or for tenured faculty whose retrenchments will be played out in courts over the coming year. What drives this behavior, he asked—self-delusion or self-interest?

While both are likely candidates, I suspect the real answer is fear.

It’s worth repeating this blog’s opinion of those cowards with guns who attempt to intimidate political opponents:

A hallmark of civilization is that we settle our differences without resorting to intimidation. Though I suppose if you know you don’t have an argument, you can always just bring a gun.

Shameful on the part of the University of Maine administration. Any educator who needs to make his or her point with a gun shouldn’t be in education in the first place.

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