To The Faculty at Purdue Northwest
I was pleased with the response from the community surrounding the piece, disappointed (but not surprised) that I never heard from the university regarding the matter, and have moved forward sharing with others how Purdue Northwest treats its students with disabilities. I did, however, receive an extremely heartfelt message from a member of the board of directors at main campus extending an apology and reaching out to talk about being on chemotherapy.
The letter I wrote received over a thousand views and a similar review on Google is listed as the most popular review on the university and also marked "the most helpful" review. This is indicative of how widespread the problem is.
I have since moved forward at a new university and, while nervous to be in academia again, I learned that the problems I faced in undergrad appear to be unique to Purdue Northwest.
To The Faculty
First and foremost, I want to stress that the issues I had with the university were primarily with the administration and poor decisions made by the disability services office. There was one professor that was difficult to deal with, but in speaking with others, I've learned that I wasn't the problem and have made peace with the situation as best as I could.
I adored my professors. When you take courses with the same five or six professors over the span of an undergraduate degree, you learn their struggles: lesson planning, meetings, students with questions, meetings, students who are cheating, meetings, drama within the department, meetings, the merger, grading work, meetings, and meetings.
I learned so much about the subject matter I was studying, I was able to analyze my own learning (I tended to be a very "meta" student, I learned what professors pour into their work, I did research. I loved my research.
I sopped up as much information as I could and was surrounded by many professors who really engaged the classroom in learning. I had a few professors who were so phenomenal that I felt like they belonged somewhere better. I even asked a professor, "why do you still work here when they treat you like this?" The professor is no longer with the university.
To The Contented
If you're happy at Purdue Northwest, I'm happy for you. There are some professors that either weren't hit hard over the merger, came out ahead, or just made it through.
I want you to keep going. Stay with Purdue Northwest as it moved forward in its new chapter. You're an asset to the university.
Quick poll (anonymous)
How was your experience at Purdue Northwest?
To The Downtrodden
If you're a faculty member at Purdue Northwest and you had a rough time with the merger, feel like you didn't get what you bargained for, don't agree with how the university treats students, or just feel like it's not "you" anymore... it's okay to leave.
You don't owe it to students and you don't owe it to other faculty members to stay. Did you choose to stay because it's comfortable? It is? Is it really? Will you ever be happy? With the recent talks of shuttering the English literature program and talks of liberal arts courses on the chopping block, are you worried? Can you put your best work out there with the stress you're under?
The merger came with the promise of milk and honey... we just had to get the deal set up. Did you struggle with the other campus on a compromise and turn out with a rotten deal? Were you lied to? Were your students lied to? Were you gaslighted like students were?
Whatever you choose to do, know that you deserve to be happy. You are better than how you've been treated. The students know it and the community knows it.
Many of you are world class professors and know that other universities are not only aware of the situation at Purdue Northwest, but they are sympathetic about it. Their hearts go out to the students and faculty who have been affected by the bleeding out of Westville campus, the lying, the bait-and-switch.
The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just.— Abraham Lincoln
When the merger began, a professor I was close to was put on a team to improve Schwarz (it didn't happen.) She asked me what I would like to see improved. As a chemistry major, I had never seen laboratories at other universities, so I didn't know what I was missing. I told her more walking space in the lab and some jacks would be nice. She was surprised I had asked so little. I didn't know what I was missing.
I want to thank the professors who worked to teach us when they were pressured to minimize the usage of gloves and napkins to save money. I want to thank the professors who worked to make the labs safe even when there were glaring issues. Thank you for describing in detail what a machine output would look like if our lab equipment worked, to have us close our eyes and click our heels together and imagine we were away from Oz.
Thank you for empowering students in research and going beyond what is offered in the classroom.
I didn't realize the struggle that professors had with the "bare bones" until I experienced another university. You work hard and you really do a phenomenal job. Know your worth, have faith in yourself, and work toward what you believe is right.
© 2019 Melanie Shebel