Week 6: The Unspoken University

Through Professor Rogers’s book, Putting the Humanities Ph.D. to Work, I was able to understand the current structural problems of US universities and graduate schools: Many doctoral students and faculty members of “color” have been discriminated against by university’s systemic problems implicitly and explicitly. Some faculty members’ academic achievements are not acknowledged enough in academia only because of their races, ethnicities, and genders. In addition, many women adjunct professors even decide not to pursue their tenure-track but move into the administration-officer-track due to the role of caregivers for their families. Since a caregiver’s role is critical in a family, of course, we can’t blame their family issues. Instead, we should figure out things that can improve women faculty members’ status. I found the statistic data shown in the book regarding the gap between male faculty’s median salary and female’s one is also very interesting and surprising figures that cannot avoid criticisms.

Moreover, I totally agree with the idea that we should have professors who have diverse backgrounds in terms of race, ethnicity, and gender. Like Rogers said, “the professional mentors who have had the most significant impact on me later in my trajectory have nearly all been women,” I think there are unthinkable advantages of being mentored by the same gender and ethnic scholars because academic mentors who have many commonalities with you understand your backgrounds — mostly hidden — better than faculty members who have not. Also, students will be able to learn various perspectives and disciplines for their academic areas other than what white male faculty members have.  

Writing about academic opportunities for multicultural professors made me think about “multicultural students.” I think American-born students, who are mostly monocultural, also should take some lessons or be given some opportunities or experiences to understand international students in the US. Many American-born students do not know much about other cultures and languages (Maybe some bilingual students who are second or third generations are a little different but not much). Even when they think they know Mexican culture or Chinese culture, etc., I saw many of them actually did not know them well. Given that most American-born students have not experienced living in other countries, this phenomenon is inevitable. They only know American cultures and see other foreigners in their limited perspectives. That’s why I argue they should take some lessons to understand their international colleagues from other countries, their difficulties, their needs when many Americans are now speaking up for inclusivity. In this regard, for example, when one of my close friends studied in the UK, all the new students in his college had to take a short lecture assigned only for understanding international students better, such as their lives, their language difficulties, etc. I have not seen any of this effort in the GC except that it’s running an international student office where I’ve never been able to visit due to COVID-19. What if US universities and graduate schools provide international students with supplemental English classes or academic advisors? Because international students are the potential faculty members of university, these efforts may help international students get more opportunities and advance to faculty positions in the US.

Advising and mentorship, whether formal or informal, is an essential factor in student success at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. I found out many doctoral students, especially international doctoral students who just start their academic trajectory, don’t know how to do publication effectively and use their works for the public good. Therefore, graduate schools should make efforts to provide those students with useful information and resources to improve their students’ information accessibility to their academic fields for their career’s successes.

Rethinking classroom evaluations, fostering greater transparency in the tenure and promotion process, offering improved family leave and childcare policies, and more are all essential elements of building a healthier and more inclusive discipline in universities and graduate schools. In this regard, for example, I know some of the universities in Korea have started preschools and elementary schools in their campuses for the female faculty members and administration officers to help them continue their careers. This kind of change should continue to be made in every society.

2 thoughts on “Week 6: The Unspoken University

  1. Matt Brim

    I love your idea for creating a mechanism for U.S.-born students to better understand their international student peers. You could create a final project that argues for the need for that education and that offers a formal proposal for it.

  2. Katina Rogers (she/her)

    I agree, David—this is such a wonderful idea, one that would move away from a ‘deficit mindset’ that puts implicitly or explicitly puts pressure on international students to conform. Instead, your proposed model could foster mutual learning and growth. What might it look like for this to be included as part of an intro to grad studies curriculum? What else might change in its wake?

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