• Mama PhD

    Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.


Disposable Lives

An adjunct's tragic death.

September 22, 2013

Caroline Grant alerted me to this article about Margaret Mary Vojtko, a popular adjunct professor who had taught for 25 years at Duquesne University and died in extreme poverty shortly after losing her job.

I read this the day this article, about New Yorkers who work one and sometimes two demanding  jobs yet can't afford to leave the shelter system, appeared in the NY Times.

Now the House Republicans have passed a bill that would slash food stamps by $40 million, and are threatening to dismantle the Affordable Health Care Act.

Professor Vojtko's most intense economic struggles followed a cancer diagnosis. As an adjunct, she was uninsured, and her attempt to pay for treatment rendered her unable to pay her electric bill. Her house became uninhabitable in the winter, and she slept in her office until the university evicted her.

I have no sophisticated sociopolitical analysis to offer. I don't actually think the situation calls for one.  I do think it is critical to ask some questions, though: Who are we, as a people? Whose lives do we value, and who is disposable? What is a living wage? What ideals separate us from those countries we consider ourselves superior to? And when we invade those countries, what exactly are we fighting for?


Be the first to know.
Get our free daily newsletter.


Back to Top