the stigma of the spousal hire

As a grad student, I never gave a moment of thought to being a spousal hire. Like so many grad students in top 20 departments, especially pre-recession, I thought that I had somehow earned a tenure-track position somewhere with a 2-2 because I had been a good student, graduate assistant, and department citizen. I had done everything that I was told to, checking off just about every box on a grad student’s to do list: collaborate with faculty – check, teach – check, present in an ASA session – check, publish a sole-authored, peer-reviewed piece – check, win a teaching and/or paper award – check and check, forge network connections – check. I realized at the time that I wasn’t going to be a superstar but, whether it stemmed from naivete or optimism, I was certain that I would get a job – and a good one – on my own merit.

Sure enough, I got a job – and a good one – but I’ll never know if it was on my own merit and I’m not sure it really matters. Regardless of how things really went down, I am still married to one of those superstars and, as long as we are in the same department, there are people who perceive me as a spousal hire, including me.

Continue reading “the stigma of the spousal hire”

dodging bullies

Not that I post often, but I haven’t been posting at all lately. Not that I need to offer an account, but I am about to do just that: I’m being bullied.

I thought that there was something wrong with me if I could be bullied by colleagues and students, but it turns out that I’m not alone. In fact, 424 comments and counting later, it is increasingly obvious that there’s an issue here and while there are a few academics on those 424, I’m looking for more who will share their stories.

I’ll start. Continue reading “dodging bullies”

the blind leading the blind

Tonight I participated in one of our residence hall’s “dinner in a dorm” events. This is actually my second time, but it was different because I was invited by one of my lovely students. Previously, when I — along with other new faculty — attended a similar event, I was paired with a hall official. Such arrangements are referred to as “blind dates” by the students.

The premise behind the event is that faculty get to see the students “other side” by touring their dorm, learning about the traditions, and talking outside of the classroom. Inevitably, I learn a lot more than just this. Most of all I learn just how little students know about the “other side” of faculty’s lives. Until occasions like this, they often don’t realize that we have children and partners or that we actually live in this city year-round ( believe it or not!) and (gasp!) work during school breaks. Those little TCE’s (and yeah, that’s what the year-end course evaluations that look a little like standardized tests are called) should not incite maniacal laughter as students think about how they used one to really “stick it to that jerk.” In fact, they aren’t at all funny to us and, at least as the local lore suggest, actually matter. The students don’t know what tenure is, why we want it, or what we have to do to get it. They are adamantly opposed, though, to any policy that doesn’t allow people to get fired (‘cuz that just isn’t right!). They also know very little about the city, other than where the airport, Target, Chipotle, and the bars are.

Although most “real” blind dates are more comfortable than these awkward affairs, I’ll keep going to them if I’m invited. It’s important to me that, at the end of the night, they’ve learned as much about us as we have about them. Of course… that assumes that they’re the kind of blind dates who aren’t too wrapped up in themselves to listen (sigh).