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Statement from the Critical Gender Studies Program at UCSD

February 27, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Dear CGS Friends,

As concerned faculty affiliated with an academic program dedicated to the study of gender and sexuality at the intersections of class, race, ethnicity, religion, and other important organizing constructs of modern societies, we write to express our unequivocal support of the letter issued by the University of California, San Diego faculty of African descent, and ask that the University act immediately to respond to the demands by the Black Student Union.

We believe the racist and misogynist event last week is not an aberration but symptomatic of a larger systemic problem on our campus that the university has historically failed to redress. UCSD has not been forthcoming in fostering an intellectual and pedagogical environment hospitable to those who consider campus diversity foundational to teaching, critical thinking, research and public service. In the past this reticence has profoundly hampered our program’s growth.

Over the past two decades, many faculty affiliated with the Critical Gender Studies Program (formerly Women’s Studies Program) have dedicated their time and energy to increasing diversity on campus. In the absence of the University’s commitment to supporting and sustaining historically underrepresented groups in general, and women of color in particular, an alarming number of African American and other CGS faculty of color have left the campus in bitter disappointment. An African American CGS faculty who recently left UCSD would lament that in her “Black Feminist Theory” class, she was the only “black feminist” in the room. Another African American CGS faculty, who published an award-winning book in timely fashion, was not tenured due to institutional oversight. She left UCSD to teach at a prestigious university with tenure. Earlier when a large number of CGS faculty were involved in the Coalition Against Segregation in Education (CASE) that rallied against the California’s Proposition 209 under the banner, “No University without Diversity,” the University neglected to publicly issue its commitment to diversity in education. After the offensive campus incident last week and the continuing acts of antagonism, we are now being asked to reach out to the prospective students from historically underrepresented communities to assure them that the recent display of hostility is not representative of UCSD. But some of us have been struggling against these conditions long enough to know that this is hardly unusual. At the same time, as faculty affiliated with a program that has managed to grow despite these serious setbacks, we are also aware that much can be accomplished with the concerted efforts and commitment of our students, staff and faculty mobilized for the consistent administrative leadership.

As faculty teaching in CGS, we are keenly aware of the intersecting oppressions many UCSD students face on a daily basis and we know how important it is to have programs like ours, giving all students the theoretical tools to analyze and challenge these structures. There are too few spaces on this campus that offer safety and support in an often alienating climate and we want to emphasize the amazing work done by the Cross Cultural, LGBTR and Women’s Centers. These centers were created due to student pressure and the recent events show how important they and their commitment to intersectional politics still are. We are proud, though not surprised, that again students are taking the lead in pushing for a livable campus climate for all and we fully support their demands.

Symbolic gestures disavowing racism and misogyny will not usher in the changes necessary to achieve our highest aspirations in public education. The CGS Program faculty invites the entire campus community to support the University in its effort to implement the demands of our students and colleagues and immediately commit concrete institutional resources towards bringing forth substantial structural changes to UCSD.

Lisa Yoneyama, Director

Steering Committee:

Patrick Anderson, Communication

Fatima El-Tayeb, Literature

Sara Clarke Kaplan, Ethnic Studies/CGS

Nayan Shah, History

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