The Academic Inquisition

Friday, March 25, 2011

The witch hunt is on. Last night, my colleague William Cronon -- a highly respected, tenured professor of history -- revealed that the Wisconsin Republican Party made an open records request for his university email following the publication of his first-ever blog post. What was in that post? A thoughtful set of questions about the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

The investigation of Bill Cronon scares the crap out of me, quite frankly. And obviously, that's the intent.

We are told as university faculty that we are state employees and our writing is subject to these requests, but many of us operate (have operated) under the impression we are living in a rational, civil society that understands the importance of academic freedom. No longer.

I'm betting that a request is coming my way soon. I lack Cronon's long track record in academia, I lack his tenured status, I lack his measured way of saying things, I lack his status as a white male, I lack his apparent consummate ability to separate professional vs. personal life.

And, unfortunately, I lack the ability to say I've never blogged on ALEC. Well, actually, I didn't, but my husband did. On our blog-- which we, in the public impression, write together.

So, what can I say? I sit and wait.

This is horrible, terrible, awful time to be an untenured professor in public higher education. Am I a witch?