Friday, May 25, 2007

NEWS FLASH: Lumumba-Zapata Coalition Gets First Major Victory!

(but there is still a lot more to be done...)

On May 11, Thurgood Marshall College Provost Allan Havis announced that he has formed a curriculum committee to review the Dimensions of Culture Program.Forming such a committee has been the central demand of the LZC from the beginning of its campaign, so we are delighted that the Provost has made this important decision, which is also a major victory for the us. This shows that students, TAs, and faculty working together to improve the D.O.C. program can have an effect and we thank those that have collaborated with us and supported the LZC!

The members of the new TMC Curriculum Committee include:

Robert Cancel (Literature & Third World Studies)
Yen Espiritu (Ethnic Studies)
David Guttierez (History)
Christine Hunefeldt (CILAS/ History)
Robert Horwitz (Communications)
Sara Johnson (Literature)
Cecil Lytle (Music and former TMC Provost)

We encourage you to contact these professors so that they understand the need to revise the DOC program and curriculum in order to ensure it once again stresses critical thinking, multicultural education, marginalized viewpoints, the study of structural inequality and social justice. They need to know that this is an important issue for all those concerned about diversity and campus equity at UCSD.

It is imperative that we remind our blog readers that this is not an issue about giving a particular political twist to the curriculum. We are not in favor of turning D.O.C. into a program of 'indoctrination,' as one faculty member recently claimed in an Op-Ed piece in the Guardian.

We seek a curriculum that meets and exceeds the standards that it's supposed to follow. In the case of D.O.C., this means the standards of what many call a 'multicultural education.' We want there to be the best, most critical multicultural education curriculum possible at UCSD. We want the syllabi to have the most up to date, insightful readings in the field. We also want the lectures to inspire students to think critically and revise their own unproblematized assumptions about the world. We are not interested in a program that just respects everybody’s opinions. Racism is not an opinion. Gender discrimination is not an opinion. Institutionalized poverty is not an opinion. Homophobia is not an opinion. As uncomfortable as these topics may be for some, these are facts that need to be engaged critically, and what better place to do so that in a program like D.O.C. that by its own mission statement should be specifically designed to do that.

While we are excited about this committee, we are disappointed about the following:

that the Provost has said nothing about our demand that the university immediately rehire the two ousted TAs, Benjamin Balthaser and Scott Boehm. Ironically, by forming this committee, the provost took the very same step that Boehm and Balthaser were asking the administration to take and got fired for
• that the Provost did not consult the LZC about forming the committee
• that the Provost did not acknowledge that his decision had anything to do with our demands
• that the Provost still has not agreed to meet with the LZC publicly, despite our repeated attempts to arrange such a meeting
• we are also dismayed that there are no undergraduate students or DOC TAs on the committee. The provost claims this is technically impossible. We reject that claim. There are many other committees in the university that have student participation. Thankfully, some of the members in this newly formed committee have stated that they too want there to be students in the committee. We will continue to push for student participation in this and all other committees in the university. We would like this committee to appoint as members two TMC undergraduate students who are also members of the Student Affirmative Action Committee, as well as two experienced DOC TAs whose academic work intersects with the fields of ethnic studies, American Studies, critical race theory, critical gender studies, multicultural education and/or social justice.

We will continue to encourage the administration to follow our other demands. Our goal is to get them to do the right thing: improving the D.O.C. program and making sure that in UCSD and any other university TAs do not get fired for exercising their academic freedom and free speech rights.

Check out the other blog articles, particularly the one titled “DOC as Robust as Ever?” for a description of what we mean when we say that the D.O.C. program has been ‘watered down.’

To echo the voices of those who attended our teach-in #1 in front of the TMC Provost’s office on May 3, 2007:

“Keep DOC real! Keep DOC real! Keep DOC real! Keep DOC real”