HomeCampusEthnic Studies remains a battleground 50 years after Third World Strike

Ethnic Studies remains a battleground 50 years after Third World Strike

SF State 1968 Student Strike

In 1969, a strike waged by students at San Francisco State College lead to the establishment of the nation’s first Ethnic Studies program. The same year students at UC Berkeley had similar success after protests there.

It’s clear the battle for Ethnic Studies and an inclusive education is not over.

This month, SF State University announced the establishment of a Pacific Islander minor while in the state legislature, a bill to make ethnic studies a requirement for graduation will be heard this week in the Assembly appropriation committee.

Across the country 13 Yale professors who had threatened to resign over the university’s lack of commitment to ethnic studies have withdrawn their threat following a change of heart from the administration.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports Yale has granted its ethnicity, race and migration program “new institutional status and permanence,” according to the program’s chair, Alicia Schmidt Camacho.

“I take great joy in imagining the future of the Ethnicity, Race, and Migration Program at Yale and our new capacity to partner with institutions and colleagues beyond this University,” wrote Schmidt Camacho in a statement. “I am grateful that our faculty remains committed to teaching and mentoring students interested in what has become one of our university’s most dynamic and fastest growing undergraduate majors.”

The Yale Daily News reports the university recently granted 5 new faculty positions to the program. The 13 professors who had threatened to resign in March have now formally withdrawn their protest.

Ethnic Studies Hunger Strike SF State 2016
Ethnic Studies Hunger Strike at SF State in 2016. Photo by Melissa Minton via Wikimedia Creative Commons

Meanwhile, at San Francisco State, demands inspired by a 10 day hunger strike by students in 2016 have lead to the establishment of a Critical Pacific Islands and Oceania Studies minor. The program which will be part of the College of Ethnic Studies will begin in the fall.

“This is a historic program that I am so proud to share that I have been able to contribute to,” says Levalasi Loi-On , now a student coordinator with the university’s Asian American and Pacific Islander Student Services. “This program means that Pacific Islander students, who continue to be marginalized and underrepresented and have so many hurdles to graduation, have a space in the College of Ethnic Studies at SFSU.”

This week a bill that would strengthen ethnic studies programs at 23 California State University campuses will be heard before the Assembly Appropriations Committee. The bill would make taking a 3 unit ethnic studies course a requirement to graduate. The California Faculty Association is supporting the legislation, according to The Pioneer.

“I think that what we provide is a way to think about the intersections of race, class, gender, and sexuality in a deep and nuanced way, both historically and in the present time and then that discussion leads to considerations of how we go about constructing a society that is not built on the oppression of people of color,” said Luz Calvo, chair of the Ethnic Studies Department at California State University, East Bay in an interview with The Pioneer.

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