Some of you may or may not know that the Theater department and the Women’s studies program had published a call for applicants earlier this year. The two departments were looking to hire someone qualified to teach in both areas of discipline. It is my understanding that the search came down to two finalists, one being an internal candidate, Dr. Liz Ruchti, and the other being an external candidate. However, because the search committee could not come to an agreement, the search was determined to be “failed.” Excuse me? A failed search? I am baffled by this decision. After reading the job description that was posted online, I am very confused as to how Ruchti was not hired for this position. It is my opinion and the opinion of many others that Dr. Ruchti is not only more than qualified, but has the passion and drive to do great work. She is an advocate for transgender and LGBTQA issues, and calling the search a failure for a faculty member was a slap in her face and mine. I would like to know why the search failed, why Liz Ruchti was not hired and who made this decision?
There is no doubt in my mind that there is absolutely no reason she shouldn’t have been hired. For the past three years Liz has been teaching the classes they were looking for a faculty member to teach. In essence, Dr. Liz Ruchti was told, by not hiring her, that she is incapable of teaching the classes she already teaches. How is this possible?
Due to this outrageous decision I urge anyone enrolled in the classes Dr. Ruchti would have been teaching to drop. These classes include “Introduction to Theater” (Theater 101-05) and “Race and Gender in American Theater” (Theater 205-01). Dr. Liz Ruchti is the best professor for these classes and I refuse to take them with anyone else since she is, in my opinion, the most qualified. We need to show the search committee, the Theater Department, the Women Studies program and the University that we are unsatisfied with their decision. We need to show Dr. Ruchti that we are here to support her and want to see her be a full time faculty member.
We may as well lose two faculty members here, because not only has the university missed an opportunity to hire a qualified applicant, but they’ve failed to support the other partner in her relationship, and that may mean the couple has to look for jobs somewhere else. However, if we can encourage the university to see what they have done to this community and family who many of us love dearly, maybe we can help them stay here, where they have built a family and a home.
For those of you as upset as I am, but not enrolled in either of these classes, I urge you to write to the people who can make a difference and change what has been done. If you are enrolled and choose to drop, I encourage you also to write a letter informing those as to why you dropped the class. These people include: Dean Vermeulen of CAS, Harvey Rovine, Chair of Theater, Tim Blair, Dean of SVPA, Dr. Jen Bacon, Richeleen Dashield, Social Equity, Linda Lamwers, Provost, Greg Weisenstein, President.
Rebekah Balmer is a student at West Chester University majoring in Women and Gender studies. She can be reached at RB649636@wcupa.edu.