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Editorial: New tenure policy may ruin freedom of education

On Oct. 13, the Board of Regents for the University System of Georgia approved a change to tenure that will allow administrations of universities to seek termination of professors if they do not meet improvement plans set by deans and department chairs.

We believe this change in tenure, allowing this leeway in termination, is a clear danger to the educational freedom and academic liberty of Georgia.

Tenure, until now, has been the indefinite appointment of a professor that can only be terminated in extraordinary circumstances, allowing the professor a certain freedom in the knowledge that they cannot be stripped of their position easily without internal review.

This internal review, one conducted by a managing entity outside of the administration’s influence, is integral to keeping the quality of investigations done clean of bias from political or ideological viewpoints.

With this change, whether there is intent to do so or not, Georgia has become an armed gun that will scare off quality professors who are searching for job security and the ability to teach as they want.

Those who have supported the change have pointed to continued quality control over tenured professors, keeping them on their toes in terms of academic quality.

And yet, their actions taken in order to do so has left a wide hole for abuse that will do nothing but damage the trust and faith that tenured professors have had in the university system.

Professors will no longer be safe to explore and encourage students to learn coursework that does not fit cleanly in the box of what the administration allows.

Georgia universities are now on the path — no matter how thick the good intentions it is paved with are — to a future where freedom in education is snuffed out.

The dust on this issue cannot be allowed to settle.

Politically charged or not, we believe that this alteration made by the Board of Regents is not a healthy one and the professors that have spoken out against it have ample claim to concern.

For students, this is a stranglehold on our future. This change will trickle down around our shoulders and burden us with the terrible misfortune of someone restricting what can and cannot be taught.

If a professor teaches a controversial topic, includes a contentious goal on their syllabus for our benefit, then they are now at risk of an administration taking advantage of this newfound power to silence ideas.

Will VSU be so inclined to do this? We have no idea.

But now it’s hunting season and the slug is in the chamber. We have to keep an extra eye out for any abuse of power.

This isn’t an issue that stops and ends at VSU and, in our belief, Georgia. This is the first domino to drop, and voices need to be raised before our trust in education topples.

This editorial reflects the general opinion of The Spectator staff.

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