Tenured professors are vital to student education at CSULB

From meeting fellow peers who are passionate about their studies and social lives to gaining lifelong skills in extracurricular activities like the Model United Nations, students’ experiences throughout their years in college often shape them into new people.

However, the most influential part of any student’s university career is the professors.

When I took contemporary politics during my freshman year at California State University, Fullerton, professor Jodi Balma who noticed my passion for the subject and encouraged me to become a political science major.

The percentage of tenured and tenure-track positions is now smaller than the amount of faculty who work as part time lecturers, according to Lillian Taiz, a history professor at California State University, Los Angeles and president of the California Faculty Association, in the Sacramento Bee on Feb. 18.

I am sure that every student on campus has had at least one influential professor in his or her academic career, and this is why we must now stand up for our mentors.

In the 2013-2014 academic year, about 51 percent of faculty in the CSU system were part-time, according to a news article in the Sacramento Bee last month.

Unlike tenured and tenure-track professors, part-time professors are hired on a semester-by-semester basis and have little job security. According to Taiz, this has led to a 50 percent turnover rate of part-time lecturers at any given university within a 5-year span.

In other words, a substantial portion of the professors that students meet and learn from during their first year at university will most likely have left by the time the students graduate.

Also, amenities like office space and hours are reduced immensely for part-time lecturers, which means that students have less opportunity to contact and receive the necessary help from their instructors, according to the Sacramento Bee last month.

The reason for the decline of tenure-track positions and the rise of a faculty stuck in adjunct purgatory has a lot to do with the state’s budget cuts to the CSU system over the past decade.

In the 2001-2002 school year, the state of California allocated $2.61 billion to the CSU system, while in 2013-2014 it was only $2.33 billion. To make matters worse, the full-time student population in that time period increased from 316,396 to 341,280 students, according to the CSU website.

This lack of funds gave the CSU system an incentive to limit the amount of tenure-track positions that were available.

This is a shame since the tenure-track has been vital to encouraging the job commitment necessary to hone the professor’s teaching skills.

Even more importantly, tenure has long been an indispensable tool that protects real learning.

“ . . . The system of tenure mirrors this idea by seeking to protect academic freedom from the ‘opinion’ of the college or university administration, faculty, and students alike,” said Michael Cameron, former admissions evaluator at New York University’s College of Arts and Science in the Journal of Student Affairs at New York University in 2010.

This means that tenured professors cannot be fired for teaching something controversial.

Academia’s position in a democratic society is to research and present information and topics regardless of how many feathers it may ruffle.

By taking away the prospects of job security from future professors, it gives them less incentive to produce and disperse knowledge that could be cutting edge and lead to much debate.

Tenure is an incentive for bright professors to stay here at CSULB. As tenure is reduced as an option, so is CSULB’s ability to retain the best instructors.

The threat of termination from one’s university position in the Soviet Union was common when the government banned any research or material that went against the country’s political doctrine.

The CSU system should reconsider its hiring practices and open up more tenure-track positions.

CSU has asked the state for $269 million more for the 2015-16 general fund, including $11 million for hiring tenure-track faculty, according to a recent Sacramento Bee article

Faculty should not be treated as disposable employees when they are actually essential to a free and democratic society where they not only provide knowledge but also help open students’ minds up to the infinite amount of perspectives and ideas in this world.

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