We, the undersigned students, alumni, faculty, staff of the University of California, Los Angeles and other concerned community members, petition UCLA Graduate Division to respectfully request approval of Jennifer Moorman’s petition to teach beyond the 18-Quarter Limit for Academic Apprentice Positions.
Jennifer is in her sixth year of the PhD program in Cinema and Media Studies at UCLA. In her time as a doctoral student, she has taught in several different departments to support herself and gain valuable experience, garnering consistently high student evaluations along the way. In March of 2011, at age 31, she was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, and subsequently underwent a year and a half of treatment. Several surgeries and months of chemotherapy prevented her from completing as much of her dissertation as she had intended. Her goal had been to apply for a Dissertation Year Fellowship in February of 2012, to support herself in her final year of writing. The setbacks created by the trauma of her cancer diagnosis and treatment, however, prevented her from meeting her department’s eligibility requirements for applying for a DYF (namely, the completion of three chapters prior to applying).
This year, she petitioned for an exception to the 18-Quarter rule that limits the number of times that graduate students can teach in the UC System. She was denied permission to teach beyond 18 quarters. If that decision is not reversed, she will be unable to teach in spring quarter, and will thus face the prospect of either losing her health insurance and being unable to pay her rent and other living expenses, or finding a full-time job outside of the university.
The 18-Quarter Rule is designed to prevent students from taking too long to finish their dissertations and complete their degrees, but finding full-time employment would certainly delay rather than facilitate Jennifer’s degree progress. There is already a rule in place that limits the number of dissertation-writing years, and Jennifer is well within the normal range of years-to-degree. Furthermore, the 18-Quarter Rule simply does not make sense when it is applied broadly and arbitrarily across all departments in the UC System.
Jennifer has been an asset to the departments that she has worked for, helping students to improve their writing and develop their critical thinking skills in Gender Studies, LGBT Studies, Cinema and Media Studies, English Literature, and Writing Programs. Her teaching evaluations consistently suggest that she generates engaging discussions about course material, cares deeply about her students’ learning, and works closely with students as a mentor outside as well as inside of the classroom.
Jennifer plans to apply for a Dissertation Year Fellowship in February, which will hopefully fund her for the 2013-2014 school year. In the interim, she simply wants the opportunity to support herself for the rest of this academic year. Undergraduates will benefit from her teaching skills, she will continue to gain valuable teaching experience, and she will be able to cover her living expenses, so that she can focus on writing and working toward finishing her PhD. We maintain that, after a year and half of cancer treatment, Jennifer should not have to face a decision between losing her income and health insurance, finding full-time work that will ultimately delay her degree progress further, or taking on unreasonable debt through additional student loans. Poverty does not help anyone to finish their degree! We demand that Jennifer Moorman’s exception request be granted, allowing her to teach in Spring of 2013.