Dear Scholars in Rhetoric, Composition, Literacy, and Technical and Professional Communication:
The members of nextGEN—an advocacy community for graduate students and those who actively support graduate students—would like to draw attention to discriminatory hiring processes against international graduate scholars on the job market.
U.S. higher education institutions state their support for diversity, equity, and inclusion. At the same time, some of these universities are bound or seem to be bound by hiring restrictions that hamper their ability to align job market practices with these commitments. Because the fields of rhetoric, composition, literacy, and technical and professional communication express commitment to social justice, we hope to raise the attention of hiring committees to the constraining nature of posting jobs with requirements such as “US citizens only” or “legal residents only.” Since citizenship requirements restrict international scholars from being potential candidates for job openings, such requirements cause economic difficulty and harm for international applicants, while also contributing to a cultural climate that is hostile to immigrants.
Some institutions also exclude international scholars through the online application requirement to indicate whether applicants would need work visa sponsorship. We understand that institutions often collect such data for statistical purposes, some of which are to ensure principled job market practices that extend from a university’s and search committee’s commitment to inclusive hiring (practices as expressed in CCCC Best Practices for Hiring International Candidates). However, the experiences of some international graduate scholars—experiences in which universities have an inflexible, unstated policy to not sponsor work visas and have consequently withdrawn job offers—gives us reason to question claimed inclusive hiring practices.
Of course, there are HR rules and regulations that may be beyond the understanding and/or control of search committees. We recognize these frustrating constraints—constraints that can seriously hamper the ability to align job market practices with our commitments to equity and justice. At the same time, we must do whatever we can to uphold our principles against injustice.
In a field that prides itself on its commitments to social and racial justice, we find these institutionalized barriers to international scholar employment alarming, and we hope members of hiring/search committees will feel the same. It is for this reason that we seek support from all concerned scholars to understand that such barriers not only exist in hiring, but also present us with the challenge to live up to our expressed commitments and principles by identifying, resisting, and dismantling these structures of injustice. After all, with these hiring barriers against international scholars, institutions systematically sustain intersectional oppression against already marginalized scholars.
We, the members of nextGEN, therefore call for all scholars (who serve as search committee chairs, members, and beyond) to advocate for international scholars and against discriminatory policies impacting them.
We understand that many faculty and search committees might not be fully aware of the extent to which international graduate scholars already experience emotional, psychological, and intellectual burdens. Neither do they aim to take part in a discriminatory hiring process based on nationality and citizenship status. We also hold firm to the belief and hope that a coalitional network of scholars at various stages in their careers can and will rise to the challenge of injustice and raise awareness of this serious problem to members in their local institutions, departments, programs, and search committees. To help build this coalition and its power, we offer some resources for understanding the financial context in employing international scholars as well as other resources for inclusive hiring. We hope the following resources could be useful as guidelines, reminders, and advocacy documents for faculty, administrators, and hiring committees to take up, circulate, and implement within their home institutions:
With all this in mind, we call for coalitional action initiated by the rhetoric and composition, writing studies, and technical/professional communication community. We call for faculty, scholars, organizations, and other various collectives to find and implement mechanisms of pressure on and advocate at departmental and institutional levels. We call for advocacy in pursuit of the rightful diversity and inclusion that is necessary in academia.
In the end, we believe that individuals, organizations, and institutions committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion will reject border walls in all forms.
In Hope & Solidarity,
Endorsements of Coalitional Action