Dr. Andrea Smith, an Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan with a joint appointment in Michigan’s American Culture and Women’s Studies Departments, has been denied tenure. Smith is a highly respected radical woman of color feminist and the author of Conquest: Sexual Violence and the American Indian Genocide and other books.
The Chronicle of Higher Education has published an article about the situation, and the comments are insightful and helpful so far as understanding tenure and what some of the possible issues might be.
What I am wondering is whether anybody has actually asked Dr. Smith what her thoughts might be so far as media and blogger attention and activism around her tenure situation? Depending on what the facts are here — and there is no way to know, because those who made the decision are not talking and so far as I can see, Smith hasn’t issued any statement — media pressure could potentially make the situation worse. I have a hunch those charged with tenure decisions in the nation’s universities would not want to be viewed as unduly influenced by pressures brought to bear on them by media and bloggers, and for that matter, persons up for tenure might not want to have it said (or thought) that they received tenure because decision-makers were pressured by media, bloggers, and activists into deciding in their favor.
It seems like there might be some value in exercising caution and waiting, at the very least, until someone hears from Dr. Smith that this is the kind of media attention she believes might be helpful to her.