A Sisterhood of Solace and Compassion: Community Building In and Out of the Classroom

By S. TERRI GOMEZ, SANDRA MIZUMOTO POSEY,
ESTELA GODINEZ BALLON and CHRISTINA CHAVEZ

meta4smWe left a meeting with a University administrator discouraged. Now standing in the elevator, the doors opened a few floors down and two women on the janitorial crew walked in. Two Latinas, tousled hair pulled up and away from their faces, stood at the front of the elevator, wearing aprons, with mops and trash bags in hand. We stood there behind them with briefcases, laptops, and blazers. In the short ride to the ground floor, we contemplated the social space that existed between us. In that moment, the illusion was that our degrees and professorships put us leagues apart from these working-class immigrant women; in reality, we were the same, still struggling against a system that wasn’t designed with us in mind.

In the years toward tenure, we had battled issues from salary inequity to work overload and unclear expectations. When the four of us arrived on campus, we were provided “mentors” that randomly matched us with disciplines and perspectives that had no relationship to our own—a folklorist (Posey), for example, was paired with a kinesiologist. There was a disciplinary disconnect in these pairings, but in some cases there were also political, generational and cultural disconnects in the way of developing a sense of shared community on campus. In the end, we looked across the hall to each other, to the fellow women of color from working class backgrounds who seemed, like ourselves, to be wondering how it was we ended up here anyway. For some of us, there had been no expectation in our family that we would attend college let alone teach it. read entire article

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