I’m yet to run into anyone on this campus who supports Yale’s History Department’s decision to deny junior professor Mary Habeck tenure. Several people have pet theories about why it happened and what it demonstrates – that Yale discriminates against women, that Yale discriminates against conservatives, and so forth. What this demonstrates most compellingly, though, is that Yale’s ongoing casualization of its academic labor force is contrary to the best interests of faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates alike. I’ve never met or studied with Habeck, but I’ve heard only good things about her from students, all of whom are poorly served by a system which transfers more and more work from ladder faculty to transient professors and graduate teaching assistants. As “Blackboard Blues” demonstrated, a real concern with undergraduate teaching should translate into institutional support for transient and graduate teachers who do 70% of the teaching here, and into an expansion of the ranks of ladder faculty. Mary Habeck, it seems, is the latest casualty of Yale’s failure to follow that advice.

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