Marietta College in Marietta, Ohio, fired tenure-track professor Bo Winegard last week without explanation. Now, Winegard is making the case that the college fired him for his conservative views.
In a column published by Quillette this week, Bo Winegard detailed the events that lead up to his termination from Marietta College. Last week, months after Winegard had earned the ire of leftist academics around the country, Marietta College refused to renew Winegard’s tenure-track contract.
Winegard claims that his tumultuous relationship with the college began when he was invited to lecture at the University of Alabama. Winegard announced that he would discuss human population variation during his lecture. The event quickly received criticism from leftist academics around the country. The event proceeded as scheduled but hostile student protesters called Winegard a “racist” during the Q&A session following the lecture. At that point, Winegard knew that his future at Marietta College could be in jeopardy.
In the column, Winegard urges Americans to consider the impact of his firing. Tenure was designed as a form of job protection that would encourage academics to challenge popular theories of the day. With Winegard’s firing, are conservative academics offered the same level of protection as their leftist colleagues?
My situation might strike you as trivial and insignificant. And, indeed, I am insignificant. But my firing is not. I did not enjoy the protection of tenure (I was, however, tenure-track), but we should not rely upon tenure to uphold free inquiry. Academic health is not served by a message that tenure can only be secured by those prepared to embrace political orthodoxies. After all, if tenure is intended to protect people who challenge dogmas and orthodoxies, why would we support a system that punishes non-conformists and that sieves them out before they are capable of safely challenging prevailing views?
Many people disagree with my views about human population variation, about conservativism, about immigration, about economics, indeed about almost everything. That is just part of living in a liberal democracy. Disagreement is what powers intellectual progress, and without it neither the political process nor the scientific method can function. But unless we can agree on the foundational value of academic freedom, all scholars will become vulnerable to ideologically motivated punishment. Science, the great intellectual achievement of civilization, will become the servant of politics.
Breitbart News reported in November that colleges may be trying to entirely eliminate conservative thought on campus. Professor Richard Vatz of Towson University argued that there is an “increasing and unremitting effort to eliminate conservatives” at colleges and universities around the country.
Stay tuned to Breitbart News for more updates on this story.