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Letter to the Editor: On “Trailing Spouses”

Johanna Stoberock, Senior Adjunct Assistant Professor, Composition and General Studies

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This letter is in response to a quote from the article “Enrollment Shortfall Pressures Budget,” published in The Wire Sep. 28.

Thank you for your recent article about the pressures enrollment shortfall has placed on Whitman’s budget. It seems clear that hard decisions lie ahead. I hope that as those decisions are made, they be made without denying the respect that each member of our community deserves. I take issue particularly with the quoted term ‘trailing spouse.’ While it is true that some Non Tenure Track faculty have spouses or partners who also teach on campus, and while it is true that some NTT faculty were hired at the same time as their tenure track spouses or partners, it is also true that none of us were hired without having the requisite qualifications for our positions, and that our hiring varies year by year according to the college’s need, not according to our own desires or, for those who have partners on campus, the desires of our partners. To blame budget pressures on Non Tenure Track faculty, and to imply that our hiring is only done as a favor to a member of the Tenure Track faculty, undercuts the important and necessary work we do. In referring to us as “trailing spouses,” blame is not only placed on powerless members of the Whitman community, but insult is added to the injury that seems likely to come in the form of job losses and job reductions for many.

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Whitman news since 1896
Letter to the Editor: On “Trailing Spouses”