Many African American Studies majors have voiced their opinions here, so I wanted to add my English-major-voice to this forum, although I did write a short introduction to Melody Oliphant’s ‘13 article on Wesleying. The two classes I had (one of which I am taking now) with Professor Mahurin were the better English classes I’ve taken at Wesleyan. The Wesleyan English Department is stacked—we have a plethora of phenomenal professors and I have been lucky to take classes with many of them—but Professor Mahurin has stood out to me.
As a professor she never hesitates to hide or shy away from the complexity of a text, but she makes those complicated ideas about literature, life, and humanity accessible to every student in the classroom. It’s no mean feat and she does it with panache. She inspires her students and isn’t afraid to call them out when they shirk their responsibilities. This past week I spent an hour and a half in her class discussing the second half of The Sound and the Fury. It’s a challenging section and she helped her students dissect it, make sense of it, and apply it to larger structures and systems of time, economics, race, and love. I left the class with my brain whirring—in a really good way. Professor Mahurin has changed Wesleyan. She has connected to the student body in a profound and positive way. It may seem absurd to some to demand that the University hire her husband in order to keep her on campus. Those individuals should read Christian Hosam ’15 and Elsa Hardy’s ’14 moving WeSpeaks (among others, like Deja Knight’s ’17), because they demonstrate just how integral Professor Mahurin is to campus life. If the University’s administration is serious about a commitment to diversity and social justice, they should show it by fighting to keep Professor Mahurin, who has done so much for our SOC community. Beyond providing necessary AfAm courses and advising half of the major, Professor Mahurin advises Mellon Mays fellows, facilitates workshops, and isn’t afraid to call out her white students for a lack of cultural competency or commitment to issues of anti-racism on campus. She understands what it means to be an ally and how to help others become allies as well. Prior to taking her class, I didn’t understand half of what was wrong with diversity at Wesleyan. Professor Mahurin’s class opened my eyes to oppressive structures at play in my community and the importance of allyship. Professor Mahurin means so much to so many students on campus; this is why she deserves us to fight on her behalf. In her short time here, she has made Wesleyan better and the University would be absolutely irresponsible to let her go.
Gibbel is a member of the class of 2015.