JCU students fight for tenure


Ann Walsh

JCU students graffiti “SAVE TENURE” on the lion.

Ann Walsh, Staff Reporter

On March 1, the Board of Directors at John Carroll University voted to have the ability to fire tenured faculty members if the University were to go into “budgetary hardship.” This decision was met with outcry from not only the JCU faculty but the students as well. 

Junior Aiden Keenan decided he wanted to take action to inform the Board that virtually eliminating tenure would harm the faculty and students. After  Brent Brossmann, chair of the faculty council, spoke about his concerns regarding the decision during one of his classes, Keenan said he realized how many students did not know what was happening and how the implications of this decision could affect them. 

After consulting with two of his close friends, Keenan said he decided to create a GroupMe to send out important information to students that wanted to know more about how they could help. He expected the GroupMe to garner some support, but he was shocked when so many students started to join. The GroupMe now has 300 students involved, which for a small school like John Carroll, is about 10% of the student population.

Keenan communicated the importance that professors have had in his life, not only inside the classroom but outside as well. 

“I would not have known how to start this fight if it wasn’t taught in my classes how to stand up for myself and how to stand up for others,” he said. 

Sophomore Katy Zoller, also a student of Brossmann’s, expressed the importance of this decision. 

“Without professors who can challenge us during class without fear of being singled out and fired, we are losing out on the full value of the John Carroll education,” she said. “If John Carroll doesn’t have our professors, we don’t have anything.” 

While many students do not want the Board’s decision on tenure to go through, there are some students who feel that it would be a good idea. These students have expressed the view that if the University is in a “budgetary hardship,” then it should have the right to fire tenured faculty. Another opinion is that tenured faculty can get away with too much and that having the ability to fire them could be good in the long run. 

“Hate to break it to the faculty, but the University has not had a positive income since like 2012,” said one anonymous commenter. “Just like any other job you can be laid off by your employer in order to preserve the University. Just because you have tenure does not mean you can never lose a job. It only means you have academic freedom without fear of repercussions.”

Those The Carroll News contacted who agreed with the decision declined the request for questioning.

On Wednesday this week, the Board was expected to finalize  its March 1 decision to approve essentially eliminating tenure. The Board was sent alternative Handbook amendments that were approved in a vote of the faculty, which were to be introduced March 10. To urge the Board to reconsider their March 1 decision, the student group led by Keenan and Zoller organized  an email campaign to express student disapproval of the decision. 

There was still no word at deadline time on what the Board decided on March 10. 

Many resources have been created by the JCU community. The faculty created savejcu.org while students created a GroupMe at https://groupme.com/join_group/66810603/8StKAOXc and a Slack group at http://bit.ly/SaveJCUSlack


Editor’s note: Read what JCU Faculty thinks about tenure at the University.