Paul L. Caron

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Stop Ignoring Microaggressions Against Your Staff

Chronicle of Higher Education, Stop Ignoring Microaggressions Against Your Staff:

Three ways that professors and administrators, intentionally or not, put staff ‘in their place.’

“You don’t behave enough like staff,” I was told derisively by the tenured professor who was then my supervisor. Despite my Ph.D., my years of experience at various levels of higher education, and my long list of successes as a faculty developer, this supervisor insisted on pointing out my place within the academic hierarchy. I sat there, in silence, swallowing my anger and shame. ...

Nowadays there’s a name for such slights — they’re called microaggressions. I’ve been dealing with them for my entire academic career — first as a graduate student and an instructor and then when I shifted from a faculty role to an academic-staff member. ...

But so far, little attention has been paid to the daily microaggressions directed at those of us who fall into the highly diverse yet nebulous category of staff members — that is, anyone who is not in the “prestige” ranks of faculty member or administrator. Outside of David M. Perry’s 2020 essay on “Title Policing and Other Ways Professors Bully the Academic Staff,” I’ve seen little commentary on the treatment of staff members. And there is an appetite for that discussion. When I asked on Twitter what one of my next topics should be in this series of essays on campus staff, the most common answer was microaggressions. ...

My aim in what follows is to describe three of the most common types of microaggressions directed at staff members, based on my own and other staff members’ experiences.

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