Sunday, April 01, 2007

Finkelstein to be Denied Tenure by DePaul?

I've heard reports that DePaul assistant professor Norman Finkelstein has been recommended for denial of tenure by the dean of liberal arts and sciences. The Political Science department voted 9 to 3 in favor of granting tenure, with three members making a minority report. The five-person College Personnel Committee was unanimous in favour of granting tenure. It appears that the primary reason given for Finkelstein's denial of tenure was his meanness to his critics in the tone of his scholarship, which is a particularly disturbing attack on academic freedom. But the real reason for denying Finkelstein tenure is likely to be the campaign by conservatives, led by Alan Dershowitz. I have previously written about the Finkelstein/Dershowitz dispute.

It will be interesting to compare this case with that of Thomas Klocek, the adjunct professor at DePaul who was suspended after getting in an argument with Palestinian students. Will the conservatives who rightly defended Klocek make a similar argument against denying Finkelstein tenure for the crime of being rude? Of course, as a tenure-track professor, Finkelstein has far greater protections, so perhaps he will prevail against the conservative forces who want to get rid of him. But the principle that politeness should not be imposed on campuses is at stake here.

No comments: