PTL Spotlight: Matt Midgett

Image of a young white man wearing a baseball cap and smiling at the camera.

The PTL Spotlight is a new segment of our website and newsletter that highlights the members who make our union strong. We will feature a different member each month. Photographs courtesy of Nat Clymer.

How long have you been at Rutgers? What do you teach? What brought you to Rutgers?

I’ve been teaching at Rutgers for two years now. I teach Writing 101 and 102 in the Camden English department. Two years ago I was accepted into Rutgers-Camden’s English and Media Studies Master’s program and thankfully, I was offered a PTL position. Had I not been, I don’t think I would have been able to attend the program as it’s too expensive for me to pay out of pocket.

What do you do when you’re not teaching?

Attend union committee meetings! But when I’m not doing that either I love to read, watch movies, cook, and bake. Once the semester ends I hope to get more involved in my local community fridge organization, making deliveries and cleaning the fridges when needed.

What is the best part of your job?

Definitely hearing from those one or two students each semester that really appreciated our class. It’s easy as a PTL to adopt a defeatist outlook with regards to how much a student could possibly get out of a class you have limited time to devote to planning. It’s nice when inevitably a few students let you know you got some things right (and when they give you things to improve on).

Why did you get involved with the union?

I wanted to join the union more than I wanted to be an adjunct. It just so happened I had to do one to do the other. During my undergrad career I had a few adjuncts for classes I really enjoyed who took the time to express how important it is to them that the school had an adjunct union. For all the frustrations they clearly had with the university they showed a lot of love for the union. I knew pretty immediately that if I was going to pursue a career in higher ed my priority would be helping to strengthen the union that existed wherever I went.

If you sat down and had dinner with President Holloway, what would you want to tell him that you would like to change about Rutgers?

I think we’d probably have to have breakfast, lunch, and dinner together for me to fit in all the things I’d like to change. But if I only had the one meal I’d probably focus on encouraging him to devote more resources to fighting food insecurity amongst students. So many students consistently can’t eat three meals a day. I don’t know how we expect them to perform well or learn on an empty stomach. Student pantries— not athletics— should hold a priority in the school budget. These students are paying thousands of dollars to attend. The least we can do is feed them.