Academic Double Standards

The University of Tennessee has concluded that professor George White was not discriminated against in his denial of tenure:

The University of Tennessee released a report today finding no conclusive evidence of discrimination in the denial of tenure for faculty member George White.

White, a black assistant professor of history and Africana studies, sued UT this week after a battle over whether UT holds black and white faculty to the same standards and whether White was the victim of retaliation and discrimination.

I haven’t studied the situation, but I frankly doubt that race was a factor in the White case. I’d say some of his highly questionable activities (like having a military deserter speak to his class) and his controversial teaching style played a role.

While an undergrad at UT, I had a wonderful professor in the political science department. She taught International Political Economy with passion and a strong understanding of the subject. But she too was denied tenure, due to lack of publishing I was told (though I also heard that her publishing requirements were increased arbitrarily; I don’t know if that’s true). Yet her denial of tenure didn’t make headlines or cause any great uproar. Why do you think that was? My guess is because she was white.

I’m not saying that white people are routinely oppressed or discriminated against. But I am saying that all this outrage over George White is due more to his race than his academic record. Denial of tenure happens all the time, and most of the time no one other than the person denied cares very much. White’s supporters are very selective in who they support.

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