Chronicle of Higher Education:
Academics who champion causes may be gambling with their careers. But for some dedicated activists, the choice is clear.
Mr. Hansford, an assistant professor of law at Saint Louis University, [...] When he joined the law faculty at the university, in 2011, it never occurred to him to cast his causes aside: "I was an activist before I was a scholar, you could say."Yes, I'm sure it's soooooo hard to get tenure after making a name for yourself in the Black Lives Matter movement. The school is probably breaking open the champagne and getting ready to give him a big fat tenure package. This is exactly the kind of professor schools are looking for.
In the months since the unrest in Ferguson, Mr. Hansford has become a well-known face in the Black Lives Matter movement. He has served as a legal observer during protests, was once arrested and jailed overnight, and was a key organizer of #FergusonToGeneva, a delegation that frames police violence in the United States as a human-rights issue worthy of global attention. [...]
"There’s a tradition of black scholar-activists who fought for justice," says Mr. Hansford, who studies human rights, legal ethics, legal history, and critical race theory. "This particular activism is almost like a calling for me." But he knows it could hinder his academic career.
With issues of social justice dominating the national conversation, some academics identify as scholar-activists, a term typically used by those deeply involved in progressive causes. They take to the streets as part of protest movements, work alongside community organizers, and push for policy changes, applying their research to underserved communities. Yet balancing activism and scholarship can be risky, especially while on the tenure track.
"I was an activist before I was a scholar, you could say."
Or, how about this one:
Rajani Bhatia saw a Ph.D. as a way to enhance her work in the reproductive-rights movement, including a job at an advocacy group. But once in a women’s-studies program [...], she found that staying on top of her courses, teaching undergraduates, and pursuing a research agenda stripped her of spare time.In other words, when she gets tenure, she can finally ditch those pesky little things like doing work, teaching classes, publishing, etc. and get back to her activism! And people wonder why the cost of college is skyrocketing. Pre-professors do all the work, knowing once they get tenure, they can go off and do the things they really want to do and leave all the work to the next round of indentured servants, that is to say, graduate students.
"I realized the very first year that I was going have to give up certain aspects of my life," says Ms. Bhatia, who is now an assistant professor of women’s studies at the University at Albany. "For me, it was my activism."
With her tenure clock ticking, Ms. Bhatia still keeps her activist work at a minimum. She maintains connections to groups she used to collaborate with and tries to attend some academic conferences that draw scholar-activists, but that’s about all she can manage, she says. "My clear priority is getting tenure."
Now, how about the activist who dedicates their time to working for conservative causes? How would a Tea Partier, the gun rights advocate, the anti-abortion campaigner, the campaign worker for Jeb, be able to juggle their graduate school commitments or their pre-tenure professorship with their activism? The question, of course, is moot, since they would never have received the offer for a place at the school in the first place.