Four years ago, Boston University hired me to serve as the head of the Russian language program. Despite being a lecturer, or a full-time contingent faculty member, I was entrusted with this responsibility, and tasked with revamping the program’s curriculum.
My salary paid for one item: rent on a tiny two-bedroom apartment, with no windows in my son’s room.
BU lecturers are now negotiating for a raise (“Lecturers at BU in battle over pay,” Metro, Sept. 4). This is about more than money. It is about no longer being seen as a kind of Gastarbeiter — a guest worker with no citizenship.
At a welcome reception for full-time faculty, I mentioned to an administrator that my department — then known as the department of modern languages and comparative literature — seemed to be fairly large. She laughed and said that when you look at the department’s website, it lists a lot of lecturers, and when you consider who’s actually there, there aren’t that many professors.
Lecturers are mere teachers in a profession where research lends prestige. Language program directors in my department — almost all of them lecturers — were called “language heads” by tenured faculty.
A BU alumna who had loved my alma mater, I left my BU job.
BU’s administrators must take account of the blind spots in the university’s liberalism and inclusion. Until they do, the university will dishearten numerous faculty members.
The author is a writer and editor. She graduated summa cum laude, with distinction, from BU and holds a doctorate in Slavic languages and literature.