We, members of the Critical Ethnic Studies Association Working Group, write in support of faculty and students at San Francisco State University who have organized to resist the proposed budget cuts against Ethnic Studies. On May 9th 2016, the Chairs Council of the College of Ethnic Studies organized a community-wide press conference to support students who began an indefinite hunger strike last week. In support of their actions, we urge President Wong and Provost Rosser to meet the demands made by faculty and students this past year.
Many members of CESA’s Working Group teach in Ethnic Studies, were once students in Ethnic Studies programs, or engage in local Ethnic Studies organizing projects. Thus, like so many others, we carry a commitment to the histories of indigenous peoples and communities of color who built Ethnic Studies at SFSU in the late 1960s and those who are now resisting attacks against it.
Ethnic Studies has always been a site of struggle. It is a field whose beginnings were designed not by the corporate institution, but rather, derived from organizing and social movement efforts to address the community needs of people struggling against legacies of slavery, war, colonization,and imperial expansion. Rather than punishing and managing learning, Ethnic Studies embraces and reimagines it. Because of this, programs across the nation often give the most to the lived experiences of students yet are the first to fall at the hands of budgetary cuts. The history of SFSU’s Ethnic Studies program extends to many and thus we share in the commitment towards its sustainability and growth.
Four students, known as TWLF2016 (Third World Liberation Front 2016), began an indefinite hunger strike on Monday, May 2, 2016. Their action should not be viewed as a stand-alone tactic, but rather understood as part of ongoing, unpaid efforts of a necessarily politicized educational community, whose responsibilities exceed the conventionally funded operations of university academic program. These efforts include the challenges of building support and solidarity, the hours of student time spent in meetings and conducting outreach, and the faculty and staff hours spent to compensate for an already underfunded program. The TWLF2016 hunger strike is a testament to the thousands of people who are advancing an education that ties the life of a person to the knowledge practices of their communities in relationship to others around the globe.
We join others in the belief that funding Ethnic Studies will benefit the entire SFSU campus as well as its surrounding community. We urge President Wong and Provost Rosser to provide timely and acceptable resources that meet the demands laid out by faculty and students.
- Critical Ethnic Studies Association
2016 Working Group