“We have this mythical belief that everyone will come out of it at the other end OK,” she said. “You don’t end up as a faculty member unless you did survive it. That doesn’t mean that there weren’t people in my generation who got so stressed out that they left. They did leave. We just never talked about them.”
So what is this terrible, stressful problem that not all faculty survive? Summer vacation. No really.
For nine months a year at research universities, instructors and students build communities from a transient group of academics unified by one thing: classes. Professors invest time in students, committees, and teaching; students invest time in their assignments.
…That changes in the summer. The fixed schedule disappears, the community disperses, and the work that has been building up over the school year can loom dangerously close to deadline.
…It’s in that solitude that professors and students say they experience what some call a “summer slump,” a period of isolation that can heighten symptoms of depression or anxiety for those susceptible to such disorders.
To cope with that slump, Ms. Hagen read personal testimonies and learned that the separation she feels is widespread, even normal. But her university never addressed it. “As wonderful as my adviser is, that’s not a conversation that was ever shared,” Ms. Hagen said. “We never talked about what’s important to your mental health.”
I think the conservative critique of higher education is overblown. But with articles like this in the Chronicle of Higher Education it’s no wonder that much of America is angry and dismissive of a coddled intellectual class that is utterly divorced from their own, normal life experiences. (I too am a coddled member of that class but I know how fortunate and privileged I am to have a job in academia.)
The correction only widens the gap:
Corrections (6/16/2017, 10:43 a.m.): A previous version of this article mistakenly referred to Dafina-Lazarus Stewart as “she.” Mx. Stewart uses the pronouns ze, zim, and zir.