These policies affect international students, parents, and those without class privilege disproportionately, exacerbating the inequity already in effect. The unpredictability and obscurity regarding eligibility for funding options deters our ability to plan for our futures, both professionally and otherwise. In IPTD, the sixth year has historically been structured (and, despite these funding changes, remains structured) to as time for vital professional development in preparation for students to enter the job market, directly correlating to the previous robust job placement that contributed to making IPTD a well-respected program that drew exceptional students. As a humanities department, IPTD is affected by the widespread imbalance in funding allocation for programs outside of STEM or business. IPTD, and the humanities more broadly, deserves to have a voice in matters of representation, student welfare, and funding resources.
The sudden changes in funding allocation affect students who are parents and international students in ways highlighting the inequity already entrenched in academe. As both students and caregivers, parents already work two full-time jobs; forcing them to scramble for the money they need to stay in the program takes away from the little time they have to do their scholarship and take care of their families. International students from countries with volatile politics are forced to make difficult choices about when and if to travel back to their home countries, detracting from valuable time they could be using to complete their dissertation and prepare for the job market, and requiring superfluous travel expenses.
Not having guaranteed sixth year funding severely limits our ability to complete dissertations that are both rigorous and meaningful. Many of us visit archives that are spread across the globe, or we spend many months generating data through fieldwork. The sixth year of funding would enable us to strengthen the translation of our research into dissertations for which we can be proud and confident.
While not having this funding ensures that we must sprint all the way through our fifth years, it also detracts from our abilities to be dynamic candidates on the job market. Not only does the sixth year funding allow for more time to finish a dissertation project, but it also affords graduate students vital time to prepare materials that will ultimately decide our fates on the academic and alt-ac job markets. Many of the most important career development steps are taken in the 6th year as students prepare syllabi, write job talks, and pursue publication with the goal of competing the best they can when they enter the job market. Sixth year funding is desperately needed in IPTD. In short, in order for us maintain our status as a leading Ph.D program in theatre studies, sixth year funding is required.
Thus we, the graduate students in the Interdisciplinary Ph.D in Theatre and Drama, join with Northwestern University Graduate Workers in calling on Northwestern University to guarantee 6th year funding opportunities for all current and future PhD students.