“Me estás jodiendo” (“You’re kidding me”) was the first thing that Lorgia García Peña, a professor of Latinx studies at Harvard, said when she found out the Ivy League university had denied her tenure after teaching there for six years.
According to The New Yorker, faculty who are denied tenure must relinquish their position as a professor at the school.
Peña, who is Dominican, was on the tenure track and had created the Latinx studies field herself. She is a published author and a beloved professor. Two separate tenure committees recommended her promotion.
After the university denied her tenure, more than 5,000 students and scholars sent letters to Harvard president Lawrence Bacow to reverse its decision on Peña. Students have also held protests in support of the professor.
“Given Professor García-Peña’s academic profile, teaching record, and professional service, we are dismayed and do not understand why she was denied tenure,” the letter reads. “Denying tenure to a faculty member of color who is actively serving on the committee for new hires in Ethnic Studies undermines Harvard’s commitment and betrays efforts to advance diversity and inclusion at this institution.”
Mariano Siskind, the chair of Peña’s department, Romance Languages and Literatures, was the one who had to reveal the bad news. He disagrees with Harvard’s decision. “I had no doubts she was going to get promoted and get tenure,” he said. “She certainly deserved it.”
In 2019, Peña discovered a note on her office door: “Go back to your country you f—ing b—h. You will never get tenure here. You belong in the factory, you wetback, c—.”