GWSS students request tenured professor

Kyle+Lindsey+19%2C+Hannah+Boggess+18%2C+Julia+Marquez+18%2C+Gabrielle+Matthews+17%2C+Jackie+Abing+17+and+Armando+Perez+17+comprise+GWSS+SEPC.+Photo+contributed.

Kyle Lindsey ’19, Hannah Boggess ’18, Julia Marquez ’18, Gabrielle Matthews ’17, Jackie Abing ’17 and Armando Perez ’17 comprise GWSS SEPC. Photo contributed.

By Michael Cummings
cummings@grinnell.edu

Students hoping to major in Gender, Women’s and Sexuality studies (GWSS) at Grinnell have dealt with a number of complications over the past couple of years, as the College is currently facing a shortage of tenure-track positions in the GWSS department. To address this deficiency, GWSS SEPC (Student Educational Policy Committee) published a letter to Dean of Students Mike Latham on change.org on Nov. 15, urging the College to hire a new tenure-track GWSS professor.

“We have two tenured faculty but neither of them are teaching right now,” said Julia Marquez ’17, a member of the GWSS SEPC. “So we have Lakesia [Johnson], who’s amazing, but she’s working in an administrative position right now. And then we have Astrid [Henry], who’s also amazing, but she can’t work right now, she had a stroke.”

Currently, the GWSS department is getting by through the combined efforts of a few visiting professors, as well as help from professors in other departments whose research and classes have a GWSS focus.

Unfortunately, according to Marquez, while these professors are able to cover the minimum number of required classes for students to complete the major, it’s difficult for students interested in GWSS to find a reliable advisor.

Kyle Lindsey '19, Hannah Boggess '18, Julia Marquez '18, Gabrielle Matthews '17, Jackie Abing '17 and Armando Perez '17 comprise GWSS SEPC. Photo contributed.
Kyle Lindsey ’19, Hannah Boggess ’18, Julia Marquez ’18, Gabrielle Matthews ’17, Jackie Abing ’17 and Armando Perez ’17 comprise GWSS SEPC. Photo contributed.

“The biggest [issue] for majors is we need to declare with a faculty member. There have been people who declared with [Professor] Sara Sanders [History], she is also a senior lecturer in GWSS … and Lakesia still will be your advisor, but it’s just a lot more reassuring to have an advisor who’s actively in the department and teaching classes.”

The letter to Latham, which garnered significant support from students, alumni and even former visiting professors in GWSS, prompted Latham to reach out to the SEPC and offer assistance.

“Dean Latham saw it and actually reached out to us,” Marquez wrote in a follow-up email to The S&B. “Though (as he pointed out) he is not the person who actually makes faculty hiring decisions — that task lies with the Executive Council, which decides on faculty positions in the spring — we’re meeting with him this Friday to talk over the issue with him.”

Marquez stressed her gratitude at Latham’s response to their letter.

“We’re not trying to pick a fight with anybody in the administration, especially Dean Latham,” Marquez wrote. “We’re grateful for his support and his willingness to meet with us.”

Overall, Marquez and the rest of the SEPC are excited to work towards hopefully bringing a tenure-track GWSS professor to campus next year.

“We’re doing this because we really need another GWSS professor and this is our effort to make it happen,” Marquez wrote.