My Voice, My Rights: Behind the Scenes of Higher Education

by Fran Rojari about a year ago in college

A Letter on Politics in Graduate School

My Voice, My Rights: Behind the Scenes of Higher Education

To the Communication department of the College of Arts & Letters,

The following is a declaration of what I have titled: My Voice, My Rights.

My Voice, My Rights: A short-letter highlighting the politics behind the communication departments faculty members and its effect on graduate student(s) as being part of a co-existing environment.

These are my realities and my concerns, and although I can speak for myself and only myself, I will be raising concerns that I and many of my classmates have had as well. I am choosing to remain anonymous to protect my character, status and identity from being judged and antagonized. I urge you to take everything you read in this letter very seriously and with the utmost respect, to at least consider the statements provided and keep an open-mind.

My Voice, My Rights

As a graduate student, there are many standards to which we are held by the department, professors and generally the school itself. While I am happy to be a part of a cohort and school where education is valued, and opinions are listened to, it has come to my attention that many problematic situations are happening in which we, the students, are being negatively affected, mostly our education and experience at the university.

Many professors do NOT get along in the communication department. Now, I understand this is simply human nature, we all cannot agree on every single topic/politics. However, as a graduate student, my concern is that when I go to speak to a professor at their office, they talk about other faculty members in a discreet way which discourages my perspectives on those other professors being critiqued. If for whatever reason I want to speak to another professor, now I have to consider who gets along with them and if I am being judged based on whose office I come out of. It is nearly impossible to stay afloat with everyone’s good side when you are being judged and critiqued by another faculty member around you. Many times, professors choose to close their doors and whisper so others in the offices do not hear the conversation. This has truly gotten out-of-hand and it is draining for some of us (students). We have projects, research, papers, and jobs to worry about and all of that is being hindered due to politics in the department.

I am now in fear of even speaking to YOU, the chair of the department or anyone else really about these issues because trust is something that has gone out the window. As graduate students, we talk, and we gossip about politics going on. Many of us, (most of us), are aware of things that faculty say, whether in their offices or classes, and we pass it along to each other. How am I to focus on my work when I fear I am being looked at differently by professors I thought I could trust? How can I raise my voice and my concerns when I fear of being stripped from opportunities due to opinions I state? How can I do anything without risking being framed by a professor who has more power than a graduate student?

There is a difference of power here between professors and students that causes fear in the way we behave and what we say.

As a student, I have the right to learn. I am paying $2000 for what? To grow fear from my professors? To do minimal work? This is a call-to-action for YOU. In the end, this hostile environment will IMPEDE me and many of my colleagues from graduating ON TIME which is unfortunate.

I have the right to learn and graduate, and experience what I put so much effort and dedication into. It is unfair to have things/opportunities stripped away from me due to me raising concerns. I pay for school. I pay with dedicating my time, my physical presence, and my knowledge into everything I do here at the university. Now, how is it that I can’t even talk to 2 professors because I know for a fact that they do NOT get along and therefore my status as a student is being damaged by them both, either one does not want me with the other, or they discreetly avoid working with me.

This phenomenon is incredibly unprofessional and downgrading. We are a school that prides itself on diversity, freedom and education. Where is all of that? Not in the communication department.

I get a long with most faculty. I get a long with ALL of my graduate classmates. I do NOT spread gossip or rumors, I simply want to enjoy my experience at this university and be able to partner up or conduct research, freely, with people who I can learn from and gain meaningful experiences with. I want to grow as a student and individual, however I feel like that is being put at a STOP because of politics.

This is MY voice and MY rights, but I can guarantee you that more than half the of the graduate students think the same.

We are TIRED and DONE with the gossip.

Have professors keep their comments to THEMSELVES.

We’re TIRED of hearing about RACISM.

We’re tired of hearing about STEREOTYPES.

We’re tired of professors DISCOURAGING us about other professors.

We’re tired of professors talking about OTHER professors.

Be mindful, respectful and professional of all the students; but also, as people, be professional for your own good. I hope you have read everything in this letter.

Thank you,

Sincerely, a concerned student(s).

Read next: The Unconventional College Life
Fran Rojari

I am a graduate student in Southern California

See all posts by Fran Rojari