Contingent Justice


LARB’s Marginalia Review of Books recently published a series of essays on the future of tenure. While addressing the academic labor crisis, the series digs deeply into our wider national labor crisis and the effects of abandoning permanent employment for contingent/on-demand labor. In “Tenure and (In)justice,” Kelly J. Baker centers on tenure (and permanent employment) as an economic protection that, in recent years, has only been allotted to the most privileged.

Tenure, and all of its securities, can be expanded to contingent laborers. Those who teach most of the classes need security and support. They need both academic freedom and economic security. This does not require a reimagining of what tenure is and who it should protect, but rather a return to the AAUP’s original conception of tenure for all of those who teach in Higher Ed. Can we please make tenure a right of many, not a privilege of the few? This is the only way tenure and justice can rest easily beside one another.

Michelle Vider is a writer based in Philadelphia. Her work has appeared/is forthcoming in The Toast, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Atlas and Alice, Baldhip Magazine, and others. Find her at or @meanchelled. More from this author →