Amy Bishop shot and killed three faculty members of the department that denied her tenure. In the wake of this horrible act of violence, I am weary of hearing comments like this, which imply that the tenure process itself might be to blame for her actions:
Rather than dismiss the killings as just another act of insanity or treating it as fodder for escalating the debate over concealed weapons on campuses or for justifying tighter security measures, let it serve as a vehicle for evaluating the antiquated tenure process of modern-day academe.Or maybe not? When faced with a shortage of booster seats at an International House of Pancakes, Bishop demanded another mother give up her child's, swore at the woman, punched her in the head. She yelled "I am Doctor Amy Bishop" during the assault. As Margaret Soltan so well put it, the problem is that Bishop was untethered, not untenured. Just as the IHOP rage episode does not indict current booster seat allocation processes at fast food franchises, it is hard for me to see the murders in Alabama as an invitation to rethink the tenure process. They are a sad instance of workplace murder by a person who may have been mentally ill.
Don't get me wrong, the tenure system is something that should always be open to discussion ... but not because these deaths were somehow compelled by tenure being "antiquated" -- whatever that means: as opposed to the streamlined and flexible corporate world, where workplace murders are unknown in the wake of firings and layoffs?