Debating higher education in the L.A. Times

Last week, the Los Angeles Times ran a five-day series of debates between the Skeptic‘s Michael Shermer and Foundation for Individual Rights in Education‘s Greg Lukianoff regarding academic freedom.

I found the debate about tenure to be informative.

I’m not a big fan of tenure, I’ve been taught poorly by a few tenured professors. My bias is that of an undergraduate student and tenure does not necessary serve us lowly undergrads well.

However, Lukianoff’s paragraph sums the argument in favour of tenure up well: "Without tenure, one can imagine the intellectual purges that would have taken place during American academic history as one fashionable idea gave way to another."

When put that way, I’m a fan of tenure. We, in the Great White North, like to think of ourselves immune to American ways. One only needs to look back to our bout of Red Fever back in the 50s and 60s to see that we are not. I could see intellectual purges occurring here without tenure, and it is for this reason that I reluctantly find myself supporting tenure.

All five debates can be read from the index page here.