My department has several non-tenured/non-tenure-track faculty in teaching-only positions. My department is also hiring at the tenure-track level this year and these non-tenured faculty are taking an active role in the search, even voting with the tenured and tenure-track faculty on who should be hired. Is this appropriate? Is there a precedent?
While on the job market this last year, I talked with top departments that gave all their full time non-visiting members of the faculty a vote in tenure-track faculty hires. So there is definitely precedent.
Personally, I'm not thrilled by the shift at many universities to having a larger proportion of the active faculty be non-TT. But when this means that the responsibilities of non-TT jobs are similar, it is only reasonable that the rights should be similar too.
Benefits of doing so include all things that come from a work environment that is perceived as more democratic and where all faculty get a vote in determining the future directions of the department. The drawbacks are much less clear to me.
Actually, there's a wide variety of latitude given to hiring processes.
At both of the universities I attended as a student, undergraduate and graduate students were involved in the selection processes for new university presidents.
Similarly, at the school where I currently work, undergraduate students regularly sit on the hiring committees for faculty hires, and can actively sink a nomination if they have concerns about his teaching credentials. (Normally, however, this implies that the other committee members have a bone to pick with the candidate as well.)
So it seems to me that there would be nothing wrong with a policy that lets non-tenured faculty vote on such a hire. After all, they are going to be colleagues, and it makes sense that there's a consensus.