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Fight for Black, Chicano Studies continues at CSULA

By David Cid |
February 2, 2014
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Growing fight for Black, Chicano Studies at CSULA
Growing fight for Black, Chicano Studies at CSULA (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Los Angeles, CA - Over 100 students, community activists, faculty, staff and others jammed the Cal State University of Los Angeles (CSULA) faculty Academic Senate, Jan. 28, to demonstrate support for Ethnic Studies - Chicana/o Studies, Pan-African Studies and Asian American Studies - becoming part of the General Education program.

General Education (GE) courses contribute to a student’s bachelors graduation requirement. These courses are intended to introduce undergraduates to a broad knowledge base from a wide range of disciplines in the natural sciences, humanities and social sciences. General Education courses are important, for they help students develop basic problem-solving and critical thinking skills.

As it currently stands now at CSULA, Chicana/o Studies, Pan-African Studies and Asian American Studies are not fully supported within the GE course structure. They are primarily electives.

Dr. Melina Abdullah, professor and Chair of Pan-African Studies, proposed a remedy to the lack of institutional support of ‘Ethnic Studies’ by including language that essentially institutionalizes Chicana/o Studies, Pan-African Studies and Asian American Studies into the General Education structure. This means that all students planning to graduate from CSULA would have as part of their education an Ethnic Studies course requirement.

Dr. Abdullah's motion states: "At least one of the two diversity courses must be taken in one of the four Ethnic Studies/Area Studies Departments/Programs: Asian/Asian American Studies, Chicana/o Studies, Latin American Studies, or Pan African Studies."

Yet, as the Academic Senate debated, it was evident that there was strong opposition among CSULA faculty to explicitly require Ethnic Studies be part of the new General Education structure for Fall 2016.

In a most undemocratic manner, it was also made clear to all of us in attendance, that this was not a public forum, and that it would be up to the Academic Senate to vote on whether to allow public comment or not.

To add insult to injury, for the first-time ever the Academic Senate voted with clickers, ensuring that there'd be no accountability or transparency on this matter.

When Dr. Abdullah continued to press for faculty accountability and transparency by calling for a roll call vote, the Academic Senate refused and voted it down with their clickers.

As of now, we do not know which professors voted for or against Dr. Abdullah's proposal. Chicano Studies professors remained silent during the debate. However, the final tally to include the language that would make Chicana/o Studies, Pan-African Studies and Asian American Studies part of the GE was voted down 29 to 20.

Ethnic Studies evolved out of the militancy and radicalism of the 1960s and 1970s and since then have been under assault by right-wing elements of this country. The fight for Ethic Studies is part of the struggle of Blacks and Chicanos for equality and self-determination. The oldest Chicana/o Studies Department was founded at Cal State University L.A. in 1968 as a result of the Chicano power movement.

In recent years, Chicana/o Studies has been banned, Chicana/o books censored and educators fired in the Tucson Unified School District in Arizona.

The opportunity to strengthen Ethnic Studies at CSULA by incorporating it into the General Education course structure was an opportunity lost. Yet, it is clear that the very presence of hundreds of students and community activists at the meeting demonstrated that this battle is just beginning and the community is once again ready to mobilize to stop the attacks against Chicana/o Studies, Pan-African Studies and Asian American Studies at CSULA. This event created a new spirit of unity and action among the students, faculty and community to continue to fight to expand Ethnic Studies.

On Jan. 30 scores of students marched to the office of CSULA president to demand that Ethnic Studies be included in the General Education requirements. This issue is receiving more support from students in other colleges.

“We have an opportunity to bridge divides and stand as a model if we move in the right direction. The Senate meets every Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. in Golden Eagle Ballroom 3. There is always an opportunity to right the course,” stated Dr. Abdullah.

The students, faculty, staff and surrounding community of CSULA request your support to demand that CSULA require Ethnic Studies as part of the General Education (GE) course structure by calling or writing letters to the following offices:

CSULA Academic Senate Staff

Jean Lazo-Uy, Administrative Support Coordinator

5151 State University Dr.

Los Angeles, CA 90032

Office: Administration 317

Tel: (323) 343-3750

FAX: (323) 343-6495


Chicana/o Studies Department

C/O Dr. Bianca Guzman, Chair

5151 State University Dr.

Los Angeles, CA 90032email: [email protected]

Tel: (323) 343-2190


Department of Pan-African Studies

C/O Dr. Melina Abdullah, Chair

5151 State University Dr. Los Angeles

King Hall C3095

Phone (323) 343-2290

Fax (323) 343-5485


Asian and Asian American Studies Program

C/O Ping Yao, Program Director

5151 State University Dr.

Los Angeles, CA 90032

Email: [email protected]

Phone: (323) 343-5775


David Cid is a Los Angeles-based Chicano activist and educator. Cid is active in the anti-war and immigrant rights movements. He recently received his Masters in Chicano Studies at CSULA.