I am not an Associate Professor.

You asked, “I see you are an Associate Professor, were you promoted with tenure?” The answer is yes, of course. But I am not an Associate Professor.

What are the important parts of this story? That some of my students waited after class to walk me to my car to make sure I’d be safe from some other students? That one of my faculty stormed into my office, threw things across my desk, towered over me, yelling and swearing? And when I told my in-department mentor he said, “that’s not threatening”? That when I inadvertently passed someone with an ASSA badge I ran home and stayed there for the next week?

With unanimous support from my department, I was promoted to Associate with tenure in 2008. (Fun fact: I was the first woman they had tenured in many years.) I spent my sabbatical at Cornell and upon my return became Interim Chair. Much went smoothly, but I experienced a series of abusive and harassing events from a handful of administrators, faculty, and students. In all cases, administrative responses were feeble. A university lawyer told me he believed I was the victim of sex discrimination, but nothing came of that finding. A dean advised me not to file a grievance because he would “take care of it.” A departmental committee pledged to write a letter of reprimand, but later “changed their minds.” The workplace became unsafe for me. But I was the breadwinner and my identity was my career—I was a labor economist, after all. The situation was untenable.

Two colleagues working in the office

I was diagnosed with acute stress disorder, then post-traumatic stress disorder with severe suicidal depression. I began getting my affairs in order. My husband lived in another state (two-body problem), but when he realized that I was preparing to kill myself, he begged me to leave the university. He encouraged me to look into a formal leave of absence, and the diversity office directed me to a medical leave. The university lawyer told me that if my doctors dictated I was unable to return, I would be eligible for disability benefits.

I went on medical leave and applied for disability. Despite the unanimous diagnoses of four doctors and documentation of inpatient treatment, I was denied. The ruling admonished me for not addressing personnel problems through formal university HR procedures. They determined that I simply left my position so I could live with my husband, and that I wasn’t really suicidal because I had “no documented attempts.”

I have since been in consistent treatment for PTSD and severe depression. Five years after leaving the university I am not yet cleared to return to academic work. I was [in-]“voluntarily resigned” in 2016.