Alt-Ac Realness: On Leaving

People keep asking what has happened to me since I posted my story. I am always unsure how to answer that question; the writer side of me says that I can’t respond yet because it’s too soon. There is no neat and tidy resolution to my story yet, which is frustrating in both a narrative and personal sense. But life, for better or worse, exceeds the confines of plot. So far, my alt-ac story does not read like a victory. I miss the sense of purpose I had when I was researching and teaching. I miss the false promise that academia sold to me for 7 years. It’s a strange thing-- to miss a fantasy. 

Read More
'No One's Interested in Backstories'

My former department is apparently uninterested in back stories (as in, my story), and is scolding current graduate students for posting support of my blog on their social media accounts. A faculty member from my former department allegedly responded to a grad student, who had expressed support of my blog, that no one is interested in backstories, and emphasized how much it had hurt Dr. Mao's feelings that current graduate students had publicly declared their support of me.

Read More
Panic at the Ivies: Graduate Student Unions (Part I)

This post introduces the question of why is it Ivies are so adamantly against Graduate Student Unions? The ferocity of their reaction to the unionization of graduate students suggests that there is something very powerful to be earned with collective bargaining, and might be part of the solution to the systemic failure of academia to provide basic rights to graduate students. 

Read More
Burn it Down: Emails of Adviser & Professor Abuse Expose Systemic Crisis in Academia

I received this email a few days ago: "Thank you for sharing your story. What happened to you happened verbatim to a friend of mine…. Ironically, I found your blog after a faculty member that I am friends with on Facebook shared your post in order to express his outrage over it. It took everything I had not to comment publicly on his page: “This happened in your own Department while you were the Graduate Advisor.”

 

Read More
Mob Mentality and Toxicity in Academia

This is a post about the toxic culture of academia, how it perpetuates systemic abuse, and how this ultimately thwarts both scholarship as well as education. Many deans have emailed me asking what types of policies can be implemented to prevent what happened to me from occurring again. I have no answers, all I have are hundreds of emails outlining systemic abuse, entitlement, and narcissism.

Read More
A Field in Which the Old Devours the Young is a Field that is Dying: A Post about Graduate Student Empowerment

When I was in graduate school during course work, a fellow grad student told me this anecdote: Just as their seminar had finished up, and the 10 or so students were mulling around and packing their things, the professor, who was nearing retirement, turned to them and said: you have no idea how much the faculty is afraid of you graduate students. This has never been truer than it is now—facing increasing pressure from the administration to produce, to address a more global and racially diverse student body, and to educate them, the old guard is overwhelmed.

Read More
Why I Left Academia: Part III, The Aftermath

I knew why my defense committee had been so rough--they were terrified of what I might do with the information of what I suspect Dr. Mao had done to me. But I also knew it was more personal. When I first saw that email alert from academia.edu, what seemed like eons ago in that Mac Store, something in me gave way. It was as if I had been swept up in a deluge and, in its wake, a deeply held belief had finally been brutally exposed. I think on one level I knew I was finished in academia that moment in the Mac store, Dr. Mao did not support me, and worse, all evidence looked like they were actively sabotaging my career.

Read More
Why I left Academia: Part II

 The two weeks leading up to emailing my dissertation to the entire committee plus my outside reader (a professor from a different university who also need to approve your dissertation, a requirement for most humanities Ph.D.s) are a blur. Every waking moment was spent writing, editing, and emailing drafts that never received comments, or even acknowledgement that they had been read. This was followed by proof-reading and re-writing my dissertation entirely on my own. This was nothing new.  I had to email my dissertation mostly un-read by my advisor to my entire committee (a scandal in and of itself), because, as my advisor wrote in a terse email to me, they did not have time to read it.

Read More
Why I left Academia: Part I

This is my personal story of why I decided to leave Academia. While sad, I know I'm not the only one to have experienced this. This is why I am sharing the story of my Ph.D, my dissertation, my dissertation committee members, my experience with the dean, how my defense went, and why. 

Read More
Thoughts on What the F to do with a Ph.D. beyond Academia

Since I made the decision to leave academia, like any good researcher, I have obsessively looked into what my options are, what I can do about with a Ph.D., or more generally, what I could do for a living that I would get some satisfaction and a decent paycheck from. Here are some interesting jobs that I've come across in my search and networking adventures.

Read More
The Facts about Adjuncting (and the Academic Job Market)

According to the American Association of University Professors, today more than 50% of all faculty appointments are part-time. Adjuncts constitute 76.4% of U.S. faculty. Let that sink in. For those of us used to grading: that's barely a passing grade. That means that tenured faculty comprise only 23.6% of the instructional labor force. My question is: as Ph.D.s, we are trained to question everything, to research, to write with conviction, and to work incredibly hard. Aren't we too smart to fall for this?

Read More
On Leaving the Academic Pyramid Scheme

If you are reading this post, chances are, you are a graduate student, or recent graduate. You have probably been surfing the web, as I did, obsessively with search words like “post-ac” and “alt-ac” and reading your fill of the ills of higher education.

It’s a difficult decision to leave, even if it might not have been a decision at all, but rather a necessity. It’s scary to leave something around which you have based your entire sense of self and identity for so long.

Read More