April Writing Roundup
This Month in Review
I normally start these monthly reviews quite chipper, bringing you the latest and greatest media on academic writing that I’ve encountered over the last month. As I write today, however, I am vacillating between worry and anger.
The Texas State Legislature, which governs both the state in which I live and my university, is attacking academic freedom and some of the most vulnerable among us. The government is hearing bills this legislative session that would prohibit gender affirming care for trans children, ban trans kids from participating in sports, prohibit DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) centers or hiring initiatives at state institutions, prohibit teaching critical race theory at higher education institutions, and ban tenure from all state colleges and universities. These bills have cleared the first steps toward codification and will be decided quickly.
Just one of these proposed laws is overwhelming, but this onslaught has my mind racing in a million directions. After I've had some time to process everything, I'll write a more in-depth post about what's going on here—particularly on the issues that directly impact higher education.
I think the tenure system needs to be reformed and reimagined to be more equitable and just. However, the Texas Legislature is explicitly attempting this tenure ban to prevent faculty from teaching about racism, social justice, or other “poisonous woke policies,” as they describe them. The irony is that these bans could actually lead to a narrow and biased education for students, limiting their exposure to diverse perspectives and the critical thinking skills gained from diverse ideas. It also threatens academic freedom and the ability of educators to teach important issues that affect our society.
All of this is profoundly concerning for me personally and has huge implications for my work, for my colleagues, and for my students. My tenure file is due in a year, and that is currently in jeopardy if this tenure ban bill proceeds. I am not the most vulnerable in this parade of horrors, but I cannot help but be concerned about the implications for my career in general.
While I gather my thoughts to say something more meaningful, I simply ask you to keep your eyes open because bans and fear-mongering are popping up everywhere. Academia is already a precarious profession, and these sorts of incursions on basic democratic freedoms are downright frightening.
So when do we riot?
I have no way to make an effective transition from bans to light reading and listening, but here goes. Here’s some of my favorite media I’ve consumed over the past month on writing, productivity, and managing all-the-things. Some of this content is new, some of it is old, but all of it has kernels of wisdom for busy academic writers.