[T]enure is a tough sell to a general public for whom job security is more and more a fading memory. The case is even more complicated in the academic public sphere, where, for the contingent majority of permatemps, the privileges that accompany tenure are little more than a mirage in the desert. . . .
The primary reason for the existence of tenure . . . is to guarantee the right to academic freedom, not the right to lifetime employment. In principle, either tenure or academic freedom could subsist on its own, though in practice, job security is usually a precondition of the right to speak one’s mind freely. . . .
The upshot of Ross's essay? Those who value tenure would be well advised to use it to vindicate the welfare of two groups:
- Those without it in a profession that, more and more, is treating tenure as the domain of a sinecured, privileged few.
- Even more compellingly, workers in trades and professions that know neither job security nor expressive freedom.