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Temperance: 00:00 Okay. Let's start. First question, what name were you
using when you first got involved with the department?

Cayleff: 00:16 Yeah. Um, I've always been Susan E Cayleff. Um, in the last
10 years or so I've started just going by Cayleff um, maybe more than 10
years cause it's more gender neutral and also cause my spouse also named
Susan. Um, so, yeah.

Temperance: 00:41 Awesome. What are your intersectional identities? Race,
ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, place of
origin, ability status, single, widowed, divorced, married and so on.

Cayleff: 00:56 Okay. Really important question.

Temperance: 00:56 Yeah.

Cayleff: 00:56 This is the lens that I bring to scholarship and teaching
and interactions with people. So I identify as a working class, Jewish,
queer, lesbian, um, first generation college student. Um, very much a new
Englander. I've come to really appreciate how regional differences are huge
impacts, even though we tend not to talk about that a lot in America. Um,
and I think, um, my working class identity is important too because I've
noticed that people from the middle and upper middle classes maybe move
much more comfortably through some of the academic worlds than those of us
who come from a working class background do.

Temperance: 01:52 Yeah. Alright. Um, did you have an official title while
at San Diego state university? And well for you do you, do you already have
official title while you're here?

Cayleff: 02:01 Yeah, I came here in 1987 after having taught four years at
the university of Texas medical branch in Galveston. I was an assistant
professor there in Texas. I was brought in at the associate level without
tenure and I went up for tenure in 1990 so I came in as associate
professor. I got tenure and was promoted to professor in 1990 which
would've made me, okay, let me do the math. I'm 35 years old, um, which
they think is kind of on the young side. I became chair 19, I want to say
1997 I was chair for nine years before I was chair, I was the first
director of the masters program that began in 95. So I directed the masters
program 95 to 99, 99, excuse me, 95 to 97, 97 to like 2005 or six. I was
department chair. And um, after that I just have, I've been faculty but
been focusing primarily on, in addition to teaching and scholarship, the
young woman's studies club and safe zone. So I've had a number of different
titles and instrumental roles.

Temperance: 03:45 Oh, I love that. Um, so actually the next question was
during what years were you actually involved with the department? And I
feel like we covered that.

Cayleff: 03:55 Yeah, through all of the years when I came here I was
faculty and became grad advisor, co-created with everyone else, the
wonderful master's program. Um, took on the young woman's studies club. um,
with that I call myself, you know, mentor slash director and with safe
zones, which we began in 2007. I called myself co founder, um, co-chair. So
that's been 12 years now, I guess.

Temperance: 04:33 And what year did the young woman's studies club start?

Cayleff: 04:36 I, you know, that's an interesting question. I'm not real
sure. We had a colleague here, a woman named Janet Kohen, Kohen, Kohen with
a K. And she had done a one or two time collaboration with a former woman's
studies student who got a teaching position at Hoover and for variety of
reasons that didn't continue and way back in the day. I said, well, I'll,
I'll go once or twice and see what, I think that was in the early nineties.
So, um, I'm going to say 92, 93. I took that on. Um, and I'm within a year
correctly [both laugh] I'll put us, I think we're in the 27th, year now.

Temperance: 05:25 Right. Yeah. Wow. That is so amazing. Um, were you
involved with any activist organizations before you came to the department
and after, well, for you, after you leave the department, do you want to
continue participating with any movements or activist organizations?

Cayleff: 05:43 Yeah. Yes, yes. And my parents were, um, leftist in their
thinking. Even as a young girl in Hebrew school, I remember, um, giving a,
I don't know what you'd call it, a thought piece or something in the temple
about why girls should be rabbis.  White girls should be allowed to read
from the Torah. Um, I was involved with the United farm workers when I was
in high school. Um, when I got to my undergraduate school, UMass Amherst, I
was there 73 to 76, continued to be involved with the United farm workers,
a group that Angela Davis had founded called the national Alliance against
racist and political repression. I chaired the Western Massachusetts
chapter of that and there really was, it's interesting, there really was no
gay lesbian slash queer stuff on campus. But, um, we, I, I did public
speaking in psychology classes and back in the day before the APA reversed
the mental illness thing, I spoke in deviant psych classes. Um, so yeah,
always involved in race, worker's issues, queer stuff, Jewish stuff. And to
me it was never a matter of feeling pulled in conflicting directions. It
was always about doing work that was complimentary and overlapped.

Temperance: 07:41 Right. Uh, love that. So tell me the story of your
involvement in the founding or continuance of the department of women's

Cayleff: 07:50 I never in my wildest dreams thought I would end up in

Temperance: 07:55 **laughs**

Cayleff: 07:57 Um, when I interviewed here, it was pre-internet so I could
only go by a course catalog. And I was struck by the fact that this was the
first department of women's studies in the nation. I had created an
independent major in women's studies at Umass Amherst. I did my masters at
Sarah Lawrence in women's history. And after having been in a medical
center for four years, which was not feminist, um, I clearly wanted to be
back in a women's studies environment. I interviewed here and was really
kind of stunned by the diversity of the faculty in terms of their areas of
expertise. Their feminist work connections with the community. I know it
sounds funny, but it was equally stunned by the flora and fauna. I couldn't
believe that birds of paradise were growing up wild.

Temperance: 09:05 My mom says that every time she comes here **laughs**

Cayleff: 09:08 I couldn't believe Palm trees. I mean it was like I had
never seen things like this. This was postcard stuff to me. Well, I'd been
to Florida, but its, everything was different. Um, I remember being struck
with a couple of the faculty in particular when I interviewed here and
thinking these are women I would really love to work with. Um, I had
another job offer in the East coast and always presumed that I would choose
to relocate on the East coast after Texas. But after visiting here, just
thought, um, this is a place I'm meant to be, this is where the best work
is being done. And it was also very, very evident to me that there was
impressive, um, positive work relationships amongst the women here. It was
not a friction ridden, um, place. It's in like a healthy environment to
make a career. So much to my great surprise, I ended up in California.

Temperance: 10:23 **chuckles** I actually did not know you had a job offer
on the East coast and,

Cayleff: 10:28 Yeah I did, and uh, um, I thought
long and hard about taking it because it would've put me back near extended
family and friends and you will appreciate this, but the red

Temperance: 10:44 **laughs** Yes.

Cayleff: 10:44 and the red Sox
would have played in that city many times a year. Um, but, um, it wasn't
the work placement there did not have the same, um, draw the same, I
actually felt sort of magic when I was here. The energy of the faculty,
their excitement about the work I did. Um, they seem to like all parts of
me. They liked the fact that I researched women in sports, women in health,
history of medicine, um, that I, you know, had had finished, I was working
on a biography and in other-words there was no part of me that was needing
justification and that seemed incredibly welcoming and

Temperance: 11:40 Magic... I love that. That was so beautiful.
Um, okay, so how do you remember the campus and cultural climate during
your early years of involvement? And I'm going to add on, have you seen it
change up until now?

Cayleff: 11:53 So when I first got here in the late
eighties, you know, the, the CSU budget has always been subject to state
financial woes. And I've been through one, two, three. I'm on my fourth
university president. The first president was not a friend of faculty. We
actually ended up with a vote of no confidence against Thomas Day. He
actually was one panel, eliminated a number of departments. So it was a
very contentious campus atmosphere as a faculty person. I remember
interviewing here, taking the job and at the first meeting with the
president, with the new faculty, somebody said to him, what do you think
San Diego state is most known for? And he said Marshall Faulk, who was a
NFL quality running back that was on our football team. And I remember
thinking, well, that's cool. I love football, but that's a very strange
answer to give a bunch of new professors. And it was sort of indicative of
his lack of valuing of the work that we did. Um, the students here have
always been involved from the Chicanx students to black students. There was
an LGBT student group, um, within a few years of being here, a group of
lesbian students started this second chapter called Gamma Rho Lambda, which
was a lesbian sorority in the Greek system. So there was tons of activism.
And of course the women's study student association back then was much more
active than it is now. There was no MA program, but I felt like I was
coming home. And I remember saying that at my interview. I feel like I'm
coming home in that the valuing of activism was co-equal with the valuing
of scholarship and teaching. Um, which is not something I had experienced
in the medical center, in the medical center, you know, there was, there
was a rarefied atmosphere and people were very comfortable if you didn't
think of the outside community a whole lot. So this really did feel like a,
a sort of holistic environment. Not sure how far I strayed from the
question, but

Temperance: 14:30 um, I would, I want to know, um, so during
kind of like from when you got here to now, um, I your um, view on, you
know, the resource centers popping up like the pride center and safe zones.
Um, a little more,

Cayleff: 14:47 you know, we, we were frustrated here
for a long time. Um, student groups, uh, were given small office allotments
in the old, uh, Aztec, um, downstairs area. And over the years we saw, I
saw at the pride center and be split up and forced the share the space with
different student groups, which was fair to no one. The the women's
resource, it was originally called, I don't know if it was called the
women's resource center. The name has changed over the years, but given
that it was 52% of the student population, it was about an eight by ten
room. And women's studies always was in the lead trying to get a free
standing women's center. And then those of us that have identified as gay
and lesbian and queer have worked with students for literally 25 years
before we were able to get a free standing pride center in both of those
are only within the last five years. So I would say SDSU was late, late on
that. Um, and uh, but the students kept doing good work, which was so
impressive. Um, you know, various presidents would tell students and
faculty, you need to raise money. And I remember always pushing back and
saying, that's an unreasonable response. You're telling us to raise
hundreds of thousands of dollars when it's an issue of space and resources
that universities need to make a priority. So over the years, you know,
these came to be through a lot of hard work through a lot of people across
a lot of generations. And, um, one of the things I hope that my historical
memory can do here is help people keep in mind the work that went into
getting these spaces and to not take them for granted and to continue to
agitate for what we need as as female identified people as LGBTQ people,
um, and peep and other identity groups. Um, institutions need pushing, um,
they don't, uh, graciously handover resources. So it's always a matter of
advocating making the case. And I'm not willing to be silenced and, uh,
told you know what, you have is enough. So, um, same thing with the LGBT
studies here. You know, we offered late gay and lesbian courses, women's
studies did going back into the 80s. And so while LGBT is less than 10
years old, it's actually 30 plus years old. Thanks to the efforts of
people. Like Bonnie Zimmerman, Edie Bencov um, you know, I was, you know, I
came along after that and Linda Hauler and Mary Kelly, you know, whole
generations of people who work to make that happen. Um, I just think it's
really important people remember, um, how we created change and in that
sense how the founding of American Indian studies, Chicano studies, um,
Africana studies here, how we all fed off each other and serve to empower
one another.

Temperance:18:37 I love that.

Cayleff: 18:39 Institutionally empowered

Temperance: 18:41 Institutionally that is very true. You can't forget
about the institution. Um, okay, so you kind of started touching on this,
but who were the key people you collaborated with and remember most

Cayleff: 18:54 you know, thinking about doing this interview with you
today, I was thinking, boy, I hope we have a question in there about who we
collaborated with.

Temperance: 19:01 **laughs**

Cayleff: 19:02 because when I, when I look back on, you know, my 33 years
here, it's the people I've worked with that have made possible what we've
been able to do. So the key people I collaborated with, I can actually say
that one of the main reasons I took the job here was Bonnie Zimmerman.
Because she was an out lesbian, she was department chair. No, she wasn't
department chair. I think Kathy Jones was chair when I came here. Um, but
Bonnie's commitment to making lesbian issues visible in our scholarship and
in the classroom. Um, the savvy of the women who went into administration
from women's studies, Kathy Jones, Pat Huckle, both of whom became
associate deans. Um, and when I was chair I was able to both Huma Ghosh and
Doreen Mattingly, their main appointments. Huma was in Asian studies, Asian
American studies, and Doreen was in geography and I worked with the Dean of
the college to get them into women's studies full time.

Temperance: 20:20
I did not know that!

Cayleff: 20:22 Yeah. And I consider it one of my, um, better longterm
contributions was to get those two incredible women into women's studies.
First of all, I think it gave them each a home where they could flourish.
And I can say that they did lack the support to flourish when they were
primarily appointed elsewhere. And so my working relationships with them
over the decades have been immensely important to me. Um, I trust the
judgment. I trust their... Integrity. Um, I trust that we're on the same
page and someone else that really figured in very powerfully is Oliva
Espin. We hired Oliva when I was department chair. She was the third woman
of color we had hired the department. Um, she brought us invaluable
insights and then in more recent years Esther Rothblum, I have highly,
highly valued collaborated with so many things. LGBT studies, we worked on
that together, worked on, um, the LGBT, I direct the LGBT internship
program and that's been able to flourish and Esther and I put together
Lavender Graduation at each, each of these women that I've named, um,
we've, I dunno how to say it, I'm just seeing a chain with different links
and we've been able to join together to do not only our own work better,
but the departments work better. Um, and we've celebrated and we've wept. I
mean, we've gone through some incredibly difficult things together at work
and we've gone through some wonderful things together in our personal lives
and in our professional lives, from relationships ending and beginning to
books being published, to nastiness at the university. And I often really,
I have to say that what made it doable was the, the relationships with them
so, I'm incredibly grateful. I consider them extended family. Um, and we
should have so much history that we can utter half a sentence and lock eyes
and know what follows, you know, we just have a lifetime of, of shared work
and success and extremely difficult times as well.

Temperance: 23:22 Um,
well speaking of difficult times, um, what are some of the obstacles that
you faced?

Cayleff: 23:31 You know, one of the blessed that things here is we've
never had to fight for those legitimacy of Women's studies and I'm grateful
for that. So that is not one of them and it's worthy of being said. It's
important. Um, we had difficult relations with the university presidents.
We have had, uh, college deans who were, uh, varying degrees of
supportiveness. Dean Wong was profoundly supportive of LGBT studies. And
safe zones and the young woman's studies club and had the vision to give
resources toward them. Paul Strand was always an ally. I will not
necessarily name people by name who were less than allies. It's not about
disparaging people. One of the things you learn when you're a faculty
person is that you all legally beholden not to discuss difficult personnel
issues. So there were situations that we faced as a department, um, that
were beyond, um, unpleasant situations I wouldn't wish on anyone. Um, we
weathered it, um, a great personal sacrifice, um, sometimes too much
personal sacrifice. (pause) Um, but, um, (long pause) yeah, and, and you
know, when you deal with thousands of people over 30 years, you run into
difficult issues with a number of people,

Temperance: 25:24 Of course,

Cayleff: 25:25 with, with, um, students and you try to figure that out and
always, for me, I've had one ethos in the ethos is what is best for the
department and that is what I've devoted my work life to. Um, even if it
wasn't my own sacrifice, um, and, um, I would do that again, but perhaps
take better care of myself while doing that.

Temperance: 25:58 Wow. That's really great self reflection. Yeah. Um, so
switching gears a little bit to something a little more positive, um, what
key accomplishments emerged from your efforts and the efforts of those who
you were working with and you did kind of touch on some,

Cayleff: 26:14 yeah, I mean. I would say the first thing that I, that I
really, that really comes to mind is the MA program.
Temperance: 26:20

Cayleff: 26:21 You know, the CSU is public university. There was no
financial reward for taking on the responsibility of a MA program from a
faculty point of view. Um, it was an increased workload, but we talked it
through and it was always been worth the stimulation of having the graduate
program and wonderful relationships that I've been able to forge with
fabulous students like you Temperance Russell (big smile)

Temperance: 26:51 Oh my God! (big smile)

Cayleff: 26:52 And here's some of the most valuable relationships of my
life. So the MA program, um, I would also say that the young women's
studies club is something that I value immensely cause it's multi-tiered,
so it's all of the students at Hoover, the 15 to 19 year olds, the teachers
that I've worked with at Hoover and the mentors that we've been able to
bring from SDSU, um, accomplishments, the founding of the safe zones
program. So, um, I needed new stimulation at that point in my career having
finished being chair. Uh

Temperance: 27:34 You're like I need something else to do now!

Cayleff: 27:36 Well, and I think that's real and I think that's real

Temperance: 27:38 Yeah! Totally. 

Cayleff: 27:38 that's something the department should help outgoing chairs
think about how do they become, how do you keep the stimulation alive for
the next 20 years of a career? Um, and so young women's studies club and
safe zones, um, became those things for me. Um, the LGBT studies program
near and dear to my heart, I feel a sense of accomplishment with that. And
I feel very proud of the internship program that we've been able to
establish. And I'm also now, you know, retiring in several months and
really, really happy to say that I have been able to identify the people
that will be taking on the young women's studies club taking on safe zones.
And I'm still pursuing someone that will hopefully take on the LGBT
internship program because it's not only about starting something, but it's
about identifying resources and people to continue the work. And I've, I've
worked hard on that for a couple of three years now, trying to get
colleagues with a genuine excitement and commitment to take this stuff on.
And I'm really, really happy to say that's working out.

Temperance: 28:59 Yeah, I just want to say that especially your
co-founding, co- chair with them safe zones is so invaluable because it's
spread across the country. Like my mom went through safe zones training as
a professor and has like knows all about safe zones and if it wasn't for
you then South Carolina, wouldn't be having that,

Cayleff: 29:18 That's really sweet. And the thing is that we benefited
from safe-zones programs that came before us. The first one was at Ball
State in Indiana in 1990. I also want to say something I'm really, really
proud of in this department is that we diversified the faculty. When I
first came here, the faculty was, um, Euro- American and Jewish. I consider
Jewish a separate identity and over the years, um, that is no longer the
case. And now we have a faculty that...is composed of a variety of racial,
ethnic, gender identities, religious, cultural identities, um, and that
needed to happen. And um, we are now an intersectional feminist women's
studies program and had that not happened we I think would have and should
have no credibility, but we made it happen collectively as a group and our
curriculum and our relationships and our social change community
connections are all the stronger for it and it was intentional.

Temperance: 30:48 Right. That's awesome. Um, alright...You might've
touched on this but I'm going to ask it anyways in case you want to add
anything on. Um, what key moment do you recall that best encapsulates your
efforts on behalf of the women's studies department at SDSU?

Cayleff: 31:08 Hmm...

Temperance: 31:11 I feel like there are so many moments.

Cayleff: 31:14 I remember something that makes my heart glow. It was in a
group setting and we were talking about things that we had done as a group,
as the department and Bonnie Zimmerman said out loud to a bunch of
people...One of the things she was gladest about and proudest about was
that she had hired me or that, I then, and then I'm convoluting it cause
I'm not sure who was chair, was it Kathy Jones or Bonnie. But Bonnie said
that and I remember thinking, well, I feel the same way about Bonnie and
about the other women here and this means that I made good and ethical
choices that we have been there for each other, um, that we have made some
incredibly difficult decisions for the betterment of the department. And we
were willing to bear the brunt of those decisions, um, and emerge stronger.
Um, I remember the excitement of the first master's students coming in. I
remember the meeting and everyone that was there when Carrie Sockeye and I
and other people and I call the first campus wide safe zones meeting. I
remember, um, Oh, one thing I want to say, I haven't mentioned it. The
first thing that I created here was the graduate women's scholars of
Southern California. And that was in the late eighties, early nineties.
There was no MA program till 1995 and I got to know a bunch of women in MA
and PhD programs at the CSU, at the UCS, at USD, at um, Point Loma all the,
all the schools, Cal Tech. And they were so hungry for feminist mentoring.
And I started a group that met at my house once a month and through a slip
of the tongue it became Scallops instead of scholars. And we called
ourselves scallops. I think we existed for 12 years. We met at my house
every month and we did skill building, you know, how do you create a
resume? How do you present at a conference? How do you critique a paper?
How do you break into publishing, how do you manage time? How do you keep
the passion of activism that you brought into your professional career
alive when it's all about research and writing. And um, as I've been going
through papers recently in preparation of moving in several months, I come
across things from Scallops and notes from women that were in that. And it
truly makes my heart sing because it mattered to them. And it mattered to
me. It came from a promise I had made to the cosmos when I was in a PhD
program at Brown, my dissertation director of who I loved and appreciated
one day on the street called after me after we each headed opposite
directions on the street. She said, you know, Susan, you really should
think about giving a talk at a conference now. And I said, okay, great,
thanks. And I waved goodbye. And as I walked away I thought, I have no idea
what that means. I don't know how to do that. I'm overwhelmed and I'm too
embarrassed to ask because I think I'm supposed to know. And I remember
saying at that moment in Providence, Rhode Island, I lived on Hope Street,
which I thought it was very meaningful. Um, I remember thinking, if I ever
get a position where I'm a professor, I'm going to demystify this stuff so
that other young women and female identified people don't have to try to
figure everything out by themselves. And so it was in that spirit that I
created Scallops. And then for several years, um, it was co-run with Sue
Gonda who then became my life partner. She was a grad student at UCLA. But
that commitment to show how to do this life so that, um, some, at least of
the emotional turmoil, turmoil and the pretender syndrome in the sense of
not knowing could be eradicated if you actually demonstrated this is how
you do it. So that's something I was very, very proud of and reminded
myself about fun we had. We also did very unacademic things. Like we would
have meetings where we would teach each other something. And I remember, I
remember this one, Catherine Caneve taught us how to do step dancing. And
another woman taught us how to change a bike tire. And another woman taught
us truly, um, how to eat fire. (both chuckle and laugh) And I just remember
thinking, you know, this is cool because this is what makes everybody
unique. And um, and then we created the MA program and we started to build
stuff into the MA program that did a lot of what Scallops had done. But
that was a,

Temperance: 37:13 that was very so important. Looking at it

Cayleff: 37:18 you know, it let me fulfill a promise.

Temperance: 37:20 Yeah!

Cayleff: 37:20 You know, and I feel like every student that I help
co-publish and that, you know, they started a group called, Let's Start,
Let's Finish. I think Sue Gonda started that and it was a some support
group for people writing an MA thesis or dissertation.

Temperance: 37:41 That is really, that's so smart!

Cayleff: 37:44 Some of that doesn't exist anymore.

Temperance: 37:47 Right.

Cayleff: 37:47 Really helpful. But I, it really really filled a gap in
those years when there was no graduate women's studies in the region
actually. And um, you know, um, yeah.
Temperance: 38:06 Wow. Wow. I really
appreciate that work that you have done. Um, so have you remained in
communication with students, faculty, staff, administrators since your time
at SDSU? Um, why or why not? And I guess speaking kind of like a past
faculty and students

Cayleff: 38:27 yes. In touch with a lot of people. Um, also, you know,
since I have this unusual moment in my life right now, I'm going through
things, deciding what to pack I'm coming across greeting cards and letters
from former students that are, so heart warming and satisfying because at
that moment in their lives, something between us helped them, resonated
with them, whether it was a letter of reference or a conversation or a
phone call I could make or just listening on, and I have stayed in touch
with people. Uh, a student came by recently, Roberta Schmitz and I think
she was in the very first masters class in 95 and she has two grown
children and have lived in Hawaii for years. And just to see how we both
changed and I don't know how many years that is. 30, 25, 30. I don't know.
Um, it was very cool and very humbling, very meaningful. Um, I wished I'd
had more time to stay in touch with more people, but the ones that they get
back in touch with me, I deeply appreciate. Um, some of my deepest
friendships have come from, um, faculty and um, you know, students are the
years and years and years ago who turned into friends and um, you know,
it's, it's a tremendous thing to be able to build on those bonds as the
years go by. So yeah, I've stayed in touch with a lot of people and, and
comforted that at various times. I've obviously got, I've got, I've got the
written evidenced did something that mattered to somebody and so that is

Temperance: 40:40 Yeah. Well you've changed so many lives. I know one
being me, so, yeah.

Temperance: 40:47 I so appreciate that. It's funny, you know, everybody
has their moments of thinking, have I done enough? Have I done well? Have
I, have I listened? Have I made a difference in, on those days when you
doubt yourself, it's, it's such a gift to have a note or...

Temperance: 41:10 have some written reminder...

Cayleff: 41:13 Yeah.

Temperance: 41:13 A card or anything.

Cayleff: 41:14 Yeah. One time I came out to the packing lot and there was
a looked up piece of notebook paper on my windshield and it said,
"Professor Cayleff thank you for everything you do for students." And I've
kept that and it's on the kitchen wall when...

Temperance: 41:30 anonymous?

Cayleff: 41:33 Yeah. I don't know who wrote it.

Temperance: 41:34 I love that. Wow..

Cayleff: 41:36 But it was huge, yeah...(long pause) (both sniffling and
emotional) Oh, I so appreciate you. You know... We've just come into each
other's lives and have been able to touch each other's lives and to be able
to work on this 50th anniversary thing with you and have you interview me
and it's a big deal. It's a gift. (both tearing up)

Temperance: 42:11 So, Oh, you're getting me emotional. Oh my gosh. Oh,
okay. Just a few more questions. Um, so what do you believe is the legacy
of your work?

Cayleff: 42:25 Well, this is what I hope it's on my gravestone and like
this, and I guess this is what I hope is the legacy that people who run me
as being kind devoted to the department. Yeah. Um, Oh, social justice
activist who lived live the life that I taught. Um, well, someone who is
funny, um,

Temperance: 43:08 someone who loved the red Sox (laughs).

Cayleff: 43:11 and someone who could sometimes lifts spirits, you know,
because it's, this is all good work to do and it's often not easy. And
there were very, very, very tough times that people face. And to be able to
bring in light and fun and bobble heads and the red Sox and robots. And I'm
looking around..

Temperance: 43:38 I was going to say, I feel like one part of your legacy
is just how there's not going to be an office as amazing as this. (both

Cayleff: 43:45 to create a space that is, that is just fun and represents
travel and animals and Boston teams and people near and dear to me. So, um,
I hope that's my legacy. That you know, she, she worked hard. She was a
good person. Real simple. Real simple.

Temperance: 44:14 Yeah. Wow. I can tell you that... that definitely is
your legacy. (both laugh) I know! I'm, I'm getting to, I'm getting to, I'm
emotional! Oh, okay. So next question. Do you think we should maintain our
identity as women's studies and not change it to the more commonly used
women gender and sexuality studies and why?

Cayleff: 44:35 I am adamant on this point that we must remain women's
studies. Adamant. I feel most strongly about this than almost anything.
Here's the reason why we have to honor history. We were first in the
nation. We are not post feminist. Someone said, I forget who... we'll be
post feminist when we're post patriarchy and I'm not holding my breath. I
am not convinced that gender...studies programs are feminist. I am not
convinced that they centered the experiences of female identified people. I
think that there are unique experiences and circumstances and oppressions
that come with being female identified. I am 1000% trans and queer
inclusive. And yet I think that trans, nonbinary, queer politics must have
feminism at the center. And I am not convinced that that is the case. Um,
in many places. And I think that whether one is born female or identifies
as female, uh, that there are bodily issues that impact female identify
people that need examination and remediation, and I'm talking about
reproductive justice and that includes trans nonbinary people. I'm talking
about sexual violence that includes trans non binary people. I'm talking
about. Umm. Umm. 1,000 ways that female identified people experienced the
world uniquely because they are female bodied and or identified and that
cannot be erased. It took an entire women's movement... With many waves,
um, and the birth of women's studies to get this acknowledgment put into
human consciousness that, that femaleness matters. And to me that can not
be overshadowed by gender or by, um, erasing the uniqueness of what that
means. It can be expanded men's experiences, whether you're talking about
binary or male identified should be taught, but always at the center should
be the experiences, of those living is females, whether it's non binary in
and out of femaleness and maleness. Um, if we forget that we are forgetting
something that we lay but so long and hard to acknowledge and honor into
me, it would be a tremendous step backwards and a dishonor to all the work
that we've done to get here.

Temperance: 48:37 That, that is so true. And I feel like you have
literally watched this department and fought for this department so much,
so I deeply understand, um, why we should keep it women's studies. Um,
let's see. Is there something in retrospect that you wish you had been
aware of.. I guess kind of at the beginning, um, of your time in the
department. Um, thinking back kind of now.

Cayleff: 49:09 Yeah. And it's interesting cause it's not, it's more
personal insight. And I wish that I, I wish they had been more
conversations decades ago about how to care for yourself because I think
what happens with a lot of female identified people in academia is we can
lose track of uh Hmm. Well simply put how to take care of ourselves and
what that means and what that looks like. And I think that students now
have that conversation on a regular basis. We have that conversation with
the Hoover high students, with the WRC has that conversation. Um, um,
graduate students have that conversation... Doesn't mean that everybody's
succeeding at it. It means that at least it's language that's out

Temperance: 50:14 Yes.

Cayleff: 50:14 Um, but it is late to the
discussion and I think as a faculty person, as the department chair, as the
grad advisor, I wish that had been more in the front part of my brain from
myself and from my colleagues because there are times that I, and we, um,
had a real rough go of it and did not necessarily have the, certainly not
the institutional support, but sometimes even the opportunity on a daily
basis to show vulnerability or ask for..(voice cracks) a hug. So I wish, I
wish that had been different and I, I hope that this new gen, you know,
we've got new faculty hires. I hope there's language for this new
generation of faculty that lets them, um, take good care of themselves and
that senior faculty can see the value of that and offer that and open that
door for communication.

Temperance: 51:37 Well you've definitely taught me
self care since the beginning, since I stepped foot in this school h. Yeah.
Which I appreciate which I appreciate more than ever

Cayleff: 51:44 Thank you. If I've done that then, then I've done something

Temperance: 51:52 Um, what do you think your legacy is to the department
of women's studies? And I feel like there's a long list!

Cayleff: 51:58 well, I think my legacy, and I say this intentionally as
sports metaphor, my legacy I think is, is I'm a team player. I've always
tried to think what's best for the department even if sometimes to my own
detriment. Um, and to... support people who needed support to advocate for
the department when we needed to, um, to advocate for the other departments
on our floor. And I've been...

Temperance: 52:36 Advocated for the
students a lot.

Cayleff: 52:38 advocate for students, advocate for American Indian studies
and Chicanex studies and advocate for MA students and, and undergrads and,
um, learned that I'm, I matter, but I'm not the, um, I'm not the front
bowling pin. I'm, I'm one of the pins and, um, you know, how to, how to be
an ally and how to understand like the experiences that aren't mine, um,
like motherhood and being undocumented and, um, various things

53:26 Right. Wow. Yeah, that, that definitely is a good and big legacy. Um,
so knowing that you are leaving, um, the department a few months, um, what
would you say, um, to current, you know, women's studies students and
faculty and administrators? Um, kind of like your last piece of

Cayleff: 53:52 It's a great question. It's interesting in, Oh, I'm
actually gonna do this thing called the last lecture in May, which is a
huge honor and I've been putting scraps of paper into a folder with
different things. And um, I think one of the things I would say is love the
day because you don't get to do it again. Um, take good care of yourself,
research what you love, the work we do matters. Remember to breathe. It's
okay to go to the bathroom before you teach. Um, and to... I think this is
the main thing, approach this life in this world and women's studies and
students in research and teaching with humility because the more you think
you know, the more books you write, the more articles you publish, the more
interviews you give for international television and newsprint, whatever. I
think it's the wise person who realizes actually the less they know. And
that's not overwhelming. It's actually I think, realistic that, um, there's
so much to know that you do the best you can listening and learning, but
it's okay not to know everything and it's important to keep learning and
don't ever delude yourself that you've got it all figured out because it's
when vanity and self promotion come in, I think we stopped working for the
common good.

Temperance: 55:52 That's, Oh, I love that. Okay. So we're basically at the
end. Um, has there been anything, um, not covered that you would like to

Cayleff: 56:13 (long pause) I feel lucky. I mean, I feel lucky that I
ended up here. I feel lucky that I was able to do what I've been able to do
here. I feel very fortunate that we have always been in position of
strength here. Um, I'm grateful, um, for so many things for students or
colleagues, um, for my spouse, for my dogs and cats. Um, and I think I'm
most grateful that I was able to for 30 plus years, lead a life where all
parts of me could be open and honest and valued because I had a taste of
living places where I did not feel valued or honored. Um, and it, it's like
I'm trying to punch your way through a wall every day. So the fact that
this environment lets people flourish, let me flourish. Um, I'm very, very
grateful for that.

Temperance: 57:38 Well, I'm grateful for you!

Cayleff: 57:40 and I'm grateful for you. I'm so honored that we got to do
this together.

Temperance: 57:46 I'm excited that I got to interview you. Oh my gosh.

Cayleff: 57:49 Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Temperance Russell.

Temperance: 57:53 Thank you! Thank you!

Cayleff: 57:57 Did we do okay?

Temperance: 57:57 We did.