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A tenured post is an indefinite academic appointment that can only be terminated under extraordinary circumstances, such as financial exigency or program discontinuation. Many academics spend a significant portion of their career trying to obtain tenure and it usually takes many years and a lot of unpaid hours for a professor to achieve this. It was first introduced as a means to protect teachers with unorthodox viewpoints from being fired, giving them the benefit of academic freedom.

Anti-tenure proponents claim that it is a strain on the U.S. economy because it limits scholarly institutions from being able to control expenses and redeploy resources due to funds being tied up in the tenure reserve. However, it would be just as easy to cut funding elsewhere or, better yet, find a more efficient way to distribute expenses in order to continue paying professors tenure. This is less an effect of tenure, and more a failure on the part of universities to effectively allocate funds.

Another argument is that it prevents incompetent teachers from being terminated. The granting of tenure requires teachers and professors to demonstrate excellent skills, not only in the functions of teaching, but also in other highly valued skill sets, including scholarly activities and professional service. Therefore one could argue that the requirements to qualify for tenure alone make an effort to prevent incompetent teachers from ever being granted it. 

Articles that target tenure policies are often written by Republicans who have a problem with Diversity, Equity and Inclusion statements and missions. By eliminating tenure, it is believed that they can remove DEI supporting instructors from campuses or silence them by taking away their job security. The driving force behind all of this becomes far more evident when considering the fact that Texas legislators recently passed the final versions of S.B. 17, which would prevent diversity offices from having a presence on school campuses starting as soon as 2024, and S.B. 18 which would change tenure policies by directing university governing boards to establish policies to revoke tenure, especially if a teacher supports certain DEI statements. 

Diversity offices are essential to the development and student success of underrepresented groups such as members of the LGBTQ+ community and students of color. Legislatures in Texas are not yet ready to accept these marginalized groups. They do not wish to count them as they are, but instead, want these underrepresented groups to fit themselves into compartments to keep society comfortable and stagnant. This legislation is essentially making changes to tenure in order to hold leverage over educators and deter them from supporting DEI policies. 

Students and faculty at Texas colleges are outraged, but they stood together in Austin on May 28th this year to protest the bill that would ban DEI programs, affecting teaching and tenure. Revoking tenure makes it possible to terminate teachers that try to teach or promote DEI in their classrooms and severely limits academic freedom in general, as well as the integrity of instructors.

This isn’t okay in Texas, or anywhere else for that matter because it harms students and denies them the education to which they are entitled. Removing DEI offices and revoking tenure is a disservice to everyone. If educators are restricted in their teaching, then students are restricted in their learning. With removing diversity offices from universities as the motive for this attack on tenure, it needs to be a protected benefit for educators before students are further disadvantaged by state-sponsored attacks on information.