End the Tenure of the Unworthy
Some students may call me unlucky. Despite the fact that some professors in the university seem to like me, none has ever given me an easy A or allowed me to get away with only doing half the work. The same can’t be said for some other classes I have been in – where the professors’ favorite students have been able to get away with, well, practically anything.
There are murmurs amongst students about certain professors who truly do not care. These professors will barely teach you, but your reward – providing you are a good enough suck-up – will be a nice A. I always thought these to be legends; no professor within our university could truly be that unprofessional.
Then I took a class with one.
From day one the favorites were already established. They had taken this professor numerous times and they knew the drill. One of the students came to less than half of the classes in total, and another student didn’t write a single paper out of the four required for the class; throughout the entire semester, students would do as they pleased – while the professor wittered on about anything other than the course topic.
The final grades of the class were interesting: the favorites - regardless of their attendance or work, received A’s. The rest of the class – myself included – were entered into what must have been a lottery; I can think of no other way to explain how I received my grade.
I’m not crying about the fact that I didn’t get an A when I worked so hard for it; I had caught on pretty quickly that nothing was being taught and therefore, there was nothing really to do. But I went to class, and I did the papers. I just forgot to suck-up to the professor, to make the professor feel like he was the center of my universe, the fountain of wisdom from which all other wisdom derives.
So I didn’t get an A like the guy who didn’t show up, or the guy who didn’t do the work. This bothered me; not because I needed an A – my GPA was beyond the help of just one good grade – but because the professor had no academic integrity, no ethics to speak of.
There is currently no way for me, or any other student, to protest the unprofessionalism of a teacher. Tenure, created as a way to protect professors from their institutions, is able to shelter them from the duty they have to teach honourably and ethically.
I believe that professors should have to worry, really worry, if they lack the academic integrity they are supposed to encourage in front of their students. Currently, a professor can issue the grades they wish, for the reasons they desire. It seems almost impossible to hold a professor accountable for an ethical failure, even if students suffer as a consequence. If a system were in place that would not allow unprincipled professors to continue, our university would benefit.
Yeshiva University is currently reimagining itself; it has changed its curriculum and consolidated its departments. All of which, I like to think, are for the good of the institution. There is another step that still needs to be done. As the university continues to try and bring in the best students and professors, it needs to purge the unethical professors, those who give it a poor reputation and a bad name.
If a student who is found to be unethical just once faces such consequences, how much more so the professors of the institutions, those who are supposed to uphold the academic integrity of a university?